February is American Heart Month and also National Snacking Month. How are these two related? Smack in the middle of the month on February 16 is National Almond Day, celebrating the crunchy heart-smart snack.
It's no wonder there's a whole month dedicated to the love of snacking: according to recent surveys, North Americans snack about twice a day on average, and more than 50% consumed snacks between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., when people hit that afternoon slump that can make anyone listless or irritable from hunger.
You will never go "hangry" again if you stash a handful of heart-healthy almonds in your purse or gym bag. What's more, the Almond Board of California is having a sale on reusable, take-with-you almond tins through the end of the month – just $1 each. The tins – much more stylish and durable than the traditional plastic baggie – hold a perfect one-ounce portion size for nutritious and crunchy snacking on the go.
The nutritional value of almonds has been studied and observed for many years. Two decades of published research to date has shown almonds' nutrient profile supports healthy heart functions, with more studies undertaken to support these findings every year. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Almonds come in many forms and flavors making the snacking options nearly endless. Here are some easy ways to incorporate almonds in your day:
* Mix an equal portion of whole natural almonds, raisins, and banana chips for a quick and easy trail mix at your desk or in the car.
* Sandwich almond butter between two apple halves for protein and a serving of fruit on the go.
* Try bringing almond snack mixes, like Rosemary Almonds, Almonds Mocha, or Basil Pesto Almonds, to your next party instead of wine – your host will enjoy the flavor variety, and guests will have a delicious snack to munch.