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Almonds may help ease your headache

Q My dad used to eat almonds all the time. He said it helped with his headaches and joint pain. I inherited this condition ... and I'm not sure if they work or not but I eat them once a week. Is there any medicinal truth to the almond folklore? — C.P., Portland, Ore.

A The National Headache Foundation identifies 20 types of headaches, ranging from simple tension headaches to the dreaded migraine. What they have in common is that they all drive you nuts to one extent or another. But research suggests that nuts is good — or "are" good, in this case. Almonds contain salicin, which when consumed forms salicylic acid, the primary byproduct of aspirin metabolization.

Anecdotal evidence has some headache sufferers claiming that eating almonds daily has a cumulative effect. In other words, regular headaches might become less severe and/or disappear gradually with repeated consumption. In time, eating 10 to 15 almonds a day might give you relief from that jackhammer in your head.

I say "might" because some people are allergic to salicin. So if your throat itches, or your tongue and lips swell whenever you eat almonds, then this regal little gem might not be for you. Otherwise, eat up.

You can make or buy commercially prepared almond butter. Almond butter is a healthier alternative to peanut butter. It also seems to be lest allergenic than peanuts.

In my home, we make fresh almond milk, buying raw, organic almonds, soaking them overnight in water, then skinning and blending them (with a few other ingredients). My video on how to make this is posted on YouTube and I'll also email it to those of you who subscribe to my free health newsletter through SuzyCohen.com. Or you also can find the recipe on page 343 of my book, "Diabetes Without Drugs" (Rodale, 2010).

Besides the natural pain pacifier they already contain, almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to lessen nerve excitability and increase muscle relaxation. They provide even higher amounts of vitamin E, potassium, manganese and a little bit of copper, riboflavin, zinc and phosphorous. Even though a quarter cup of almonds contains 18 grams of fat, 11 of those are the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind.

What's more, emerging research suggests that eating almonds does not result in weight gain, and may even contribute to weight loss due to the nut's tendency to cause a feeling of fullness.

So next time you feel a headache coming on, go ahead and get a little nutty — with almonds.

This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.