Almonds, scientifically called Prunus dulcis, are among the world’s most popular tree nuts. Almond trees were cultivated as early as 3000 BC. Interestingly, there is a reference made about almonds in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. They are referred to as prized food given as a gift.
Currently, the US is the largest producer of almonds of which California generates and grows the highest amount of almonds.
They are a complete package of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Almonds also contain biotin and phytonutrients such as plant sterols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.
The commercially available almonds have their shell removed so that only the edible part can be consumed. They are sold either roasted or raw. There are many products available in the market in which almonds are used like, milk, oil, flour, butter.
Almonds being a versatile food, can be incorporated into various recipes. They can be used for topping in ice creams, hot and cold cereals, chocolates, smoothies, pastries, biscuits, and various other baked goods.
Almond butter can be spread on a whole-grain toast or sliced apples. A spoonful of almond butter can be mixed with oatmeal for getting a richer taste.
While preparing baked foods, try using almond flour instead of all-purpose flour.
Furthermore, blending almonds with milk and then drinking it daily can give your body the daily requirement of an electrolyte such as potassium. Drinking almond milk can provide the body with a heavy dose of electrolytes as well as energy. This improves blood flow to the brain and can make your memory sharper.
Almonds have been associated with lowering heart disease, and diabetes. Studies have also shown the potential effects of eating almonds with lowering high blood pressure and improvement of blood cholesterol levels.
Moreover, in some parts of India, people link eating almonds with the improvement of memory and concentration. So students are usually advised to eat almonds so that they can perform better in exams.
Crunching almonds before going to bed can help you to sleep faster and better. This is because it releases stress from the body making it easier for the body to rest and relax. It can also aid in fighting anxiety and depression because it contains selenium. So eat a handful of almonds and have a good night’s sleep.
What are the Health Benefits of eating almonds?
High dose of nutrients
Almonds are extremely popular because of their high nutrient profile. 28 gram or a 1-ounce serving of almonds contain:
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fibre: 3.5 grams
- Fat: 14 grams
- Manganese: 32% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
Of the 14 grams of fat available in almonds, 9 of which are monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats found in avocados, olive oil and certain nuts. They have numerous health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, aiding in weight loss, and helping in decreasing inflammation.
2. Help with blood sugar control
People having diabetes can consume almonds without any worries because they are low in carbs but high in protein, fibre and healthy fats.
Almonds contain a high amount of magnesium, which is involved in assisting in more than 300 functions of the body, one of which also includes controlling blood sugar.
People with type 2 diabetes are usually facing magnesium deficiency. Consuming almonds can help in the correction of this by significantly lowering blood sugar levels and improving the function of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are major health problems nowadays, both of which can be prevented by consuming foods rich in magnesium.
3. The best source of antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the cells from free radical damage which can induce ageing, inflammation and diseases like cancer. Due to environmental stress and natural processes occurring in the body, free radical accumulation may occur.
Our body can eliminate them, but taking antioxidants from the diet can also assist in removing them. When free radicals get assembled in the body in excess amounts then it can cause oxidative stress which then results in damage to cells.
Clinical research carried out over four weeks suggested that consuming almonds along with main meals reduced a few markers of oxidative damage. Oxidative stress results due to unevenness between the generation of free radicals in the body and it’s potential to respond to their destructive effects.
But it should be kept in mind that the brown layer of the skin in almonds is highly concentrated with powerful antioxidants. Therefore, almonds should be consumed along with the outer skin to get their complete health benefits.
4.High in Vitamin E
1 ounce of almonds provides 37% of the RDI of vitamin E. Therefore being the world’s best sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that has shown to assist in improving blood cholesterol level because it can help to stop the oxidation process that causes cholesterol to block the arteries.
Scientific research shows that the rate of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s tend to decrease with a higher intake of vitamin E.
5. Lowers cholesterol levels
Hyperlipidemia or accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood is known to be a risk factor for heart disease.
Few studies have found that consuming almonds regularly can lower cholesterol levels significantly. Almonds are high in unsaturated fat.
This type of fat does not heighten the risk of the accumulation of bad cholesterol. Therefore, almonds when consumed in moderation may improve a person’s blood cholesterol levels.
2018 review in a journal notes that the nutrients in almonds may aid in enhancing levels of high-density lipoprotein(HDL) or “good” cholesterol. People were advised to eat around 45 grams of almonds per day to protect heart health.
6. Reduces hunger
Almonds are high in protein and fibre and low in carbs. Both fibre and protein are known to increase the feeling of fullness. Thereby reducing the intake of calories.
Several studies support the hunger-fighting impact of eating nuts.
Eating tree nuts, including almonds, have shown to reduce body mass index or BMI. BMI is the measure of weight in comparison to height. Consuming almonds can be satiating and can aid you in maintaining body weight.
7. Good for eyes
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E thereby aiding in the protection of the eyes and the prevention of abnormal changes in the lens.
Consuming almonds in moderation can assist in the protection of your eyes.
8. Beneficial for skin health
There are many cosmetic products available in the market which claims to have almonds in them.
Almonds consist of flavonoid similar to the ones found in broccoli and green tea. Thereby nourishing skin and giving it an anti-ageing impact.
9. Prevents cancer
As almonds contain a high amount of fibre, they can help in detoxifying the body. It improves digestive health as well. This can reduce the risk of the development of colon cancer. Almonds are abundant in flavonoids and vitamin E thereby reducing the risk of developing breast cancer.
10. Boosts brain power
Almonds consist of riboflavin and L-carnitine, both of which support the development of brain cells. This can help in boosting the cognitive function of the brain. It is generally said that consuming 5 almonds every day in the morning can improve your brain health.
How many almonds should you consume daily?
As recommended by the dietary guidelines for Americans, 1 ounce of almonds or about 23 almonds should be the ideal daily portion.
What are the potential risks of consuming almonds?
Almonds, when consumed in moderation, give tremendous health benefits but when consumed in excess they can cause shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhoea, and problems in swallowing.
Allergy: People having an allergy to nuts should avoid eating almonds at all cost. Even after consuming it accidentally, if individuals experience symptoms such as swelling, hives, and difficulty in breathing then they should immediately seek medical support.
In extreme cases, conditions like anaphylaxis may occur which can be life-threatening. People having allergies should thoroughly read the packaging of foods available on the market and should make sure that dishes in the restaurant do not contain nuts.
Choking and aspiration
Some old age people and young children face difficulty in swallowing, so they should avoid intake of whole nuts because of the risk of choking.
People suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia may have a higher risk of aspiration. This can lead to food entering the lungs and can cause complications such as pneumonia.
But keep in mind that people having an allergy to nuts should avoid consuming almonds and products containing almonds at all cost.
If you want to buy high quality and affordable almonds then purchase from standard cold-pressed oil. Almonds are the healthiest snack and are the best source of protein and fibre for people following a plant-based diet. Whenever you crave chips and pretzels, try to avoid them and go for a more crunchy and nutritious snack such as almonds.