Almonds are world’s renowned nuts because of their versatile and nutritious qualities. They also have many culinary uses and health benefits. Although almonds are native to Middle East now America is the world’s largest producer of almonds owing to their popularity in the US. All thanks to their health benefits and versatility almonds are quite a favorite snack among dieters.
Is Almond Nut or Seed?
Almonds are seeds of Prunus dulcis also known as almond tree. The native of Mediterranean region almonds are seeds of the almond fruit, a drupe. Drupe is a fruit which have hull layers and outer shell layers that are non-edible. After extraction of edible almond seeds the hulls and shells are used for bedding and livestock feed.
According to USDA almonds have an impressive nutrient profile. A small handful of almonds contains 161 calories and 2.5 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates. A single serving of 28 grams (1-ounce) almonds contains:
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Fat: 14 grams (9 of these are monosaturated)
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
- Manganese: 32% of the RDI
- A decent amount of riboflavin, copper and phosphorus.
Almonds And Their Impact On Health:
Even though almonds are high in fat content but this fat is un-saturated fat, which does not cause any risk of low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol. According to American Heart Association the unsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol level. Additionally, almonds do not contain cholesterol. A study suggests that consuming almonds causes lower over-all cholesterol levels and increases vitamin E level in the red blood cells and plasma.
Almonds helps in protecting your heart through several ways. Almonds have been known as good source of maintaining or increasing HDL cholesterol (good, heart protecting lipids) while it lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Almonds helps in improving vascular function of heart and also reduces blood pressure. They help in reducing stiffness of arteries and helps blood vessels to relax. In a research it was concluded that all these healthy benefits of almonds are due to:
- Healthy fats, vitamin E, and fiber
- Anti-oxidant impact of flavonoids
Almonds are known to help in managing blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes have lower levels of magnesium. It was suggested by scientists that there might be link between insulin resistance and magnesium deficiency. In order to improve blood sugar levels magnesium supplements were suggested by experts, but almonds can provide a better dietary source instead. Moreover, due to low carbs and higher proteins, fiber and healthy fat content almonds becomes a perfect choice for people who have diabetes.
Insulin resistance was also observed in healthy people when they were supplemented with magnesium. This shows that foods that are high in magnesium such as almonds can help in preventing two major health problems, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
In a study a possible link between protective effect of almonds on cancer development was studied. Lower risk of developing breast cancer was identified in individuals who consumed almonds, peanuts and walnuts as compare to those individuals who did not consume any.
However, more studies are needed to confirm this as findings have been contradictory overall.
Want to learn more about link between cancer and diet? Click here to find out.
Almonds are rich with vitamin E and are power packed with anti-oxidants, this makes almonds an excellent source of anti-oxidants. There are 7.27 mg of vitamin E in 28.4 g (1 ounce) of almonds. Vitamin E along with other anti-oxidants helps body in preventing oxidative damage due to free radical accumulation. Cell damage is caused due to oxidative stress that is caused by high free radical’s levels. This in turn cause numerous health problems and diseases.
In a clinical trial daily intake of 3 ounces of almonds helps in reducing oxidative stress by 23-34% over a time span of four weeks.
Almonds and weight loss:
Due to the highly satiating properties eating almonds reduces hunger level and helps in lowering overall calorie intake. High calorie count makes almond a healthy snack and one can binge eat it without feeling guilty. High fiber and protein and low in carbs help in attaining feeling of fullness which in turn helps in reduced calorie intake.
10-15% of calories from nuts are not absorbed by our body. It was suggested that eating nuts can boost body metabolism. It was observed in a study that low calorie diet that contains almonds caused 62% increase in weight loss as compare to a diet that was enriched with complex carbohydrates.
Almonds in Skin-Care Products and Beauty Routine:
Almonds and almond oil have various properties that are immunity boosting, anti-inflammatory and anti-hepatotoxicity.
- Almond oil is a fragrant moisturizer. It is non-irritating and does not cause break out and also does not clog pores.
- It was suggested by research that massaging skin with almond oil helps in reducing stretch marks, reduce in itching and also prevents it from forming in future.
- It is found that almond oil also helps in protecting your skin from UV damage.
Health Risk or Side Effects of Almonds:
In case you allergic to nuts, you can possibly have Allergic reaction mainly anaphylaxis.
Certainly, eating almonds without keeping check of portion size might cause weight gain.
Almond Recipe Inspiration:
Almonds adds a delicious addition to regular salad dressings, smoothies, desserts and much more.
- Almonds can be eaten as such as a healthy munching snack.
- Add handful of almonds in your smoothies to make them more nutritious.
- Replace regular flour with almond flour for extra crispiness.
- Make a satisfying dessert with cherries, ricotta and toasted almonds.
Almonds are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E and magnesium. These amazing and healthy benefits of almonds make it a wonderful addition to your meal and snacks. Who knew that such little nuts have such huge impact on your body and health?