Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are a blockbuster dried fruit that comes in a small size but packs an enormous nutritional punch. They contain a number of important vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats. Some of their many amazing health benefits may include lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and alleviating constipation, respiratory disorders and anemia. Almonds are also great for hair, skin (psoriasis), and dental care.
What are Almonds?
An almond, despite being classified as a nut by most, is actually the seed from the fruit of an almond tree. The scientific name of these dry fruits is Prunus dulcis and they are native to the Middle East, India, and North Africa. The almonds that we eat are actually the pits of these fruits. Once they are cracked open, the delicious meat of the nut can be eaten! This partially explains why there are so many nutrients found in these nuts; they are the core nutrients needed for a new plant to grow.
Almonds are now found in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Israel as well. The taste of almonds may range from sweet to bitter. Both are readily available in markets and can be purchased based upon your taste and cooking use! Sweet almonds are edible, while bitter ones are used for making oil, which is commonly used to add flavor to the food.
Can almonds be eaten raw?
Yes! You can absolutely eat raw almonds and will reap all the health benefits of this delicious nut (or seed, as mentioned above). Many people prefer to toast their almonds to bring out a nicer flavor and release some of the natural oils. This also makes the nuts slightly crunchier, giving them their signature color. That being said, there is no harm in eating them raw.
Many people also add almonds as ingredients in salads, casseroles, and other dishes. You can eat almonds right out of the bags, preferably on an empty stomach to increase. You can also soak them in water overnight and eat them the next morning.
How to eat almonds?
Almonds can be consumed in a number of ways, including the following:
- Drink almond milk is a delicious beverage that’s an alternative to cow’s milk
- Topping off your yogurt or oatmeal with these healthy nuts gives them a crunch!
- Grind them into delicious almond butter, add salt, and bake them to be a replacement for junk food
- Include them in your protein or vegetable shakes
- Top a salad with these nuts
- Crushed almonds are also a wonderful garnish for a number of dishes
- Sprinkle them on top of your pizza
Almonds are a highly nutritional nut. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, it is a rich source of energy, fiber, protein, and a number of essential vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Compared to all other nuts, almonds are one of the richest in nutrients and beneficial components.
- Calories: There are 529 calories in a cup of almonds–about 25% of your suggested calorie intake for the day–which is why we don’t necessarily suggest eating that many in one sitting! However, to put it in simpler terms, there are about 130 calories in one ounce of almonds, which equates to roughly 23 almonds. One serving can help increase your monounsaturated (healthy) fat levels, and they contain tons of great minerals too!
- Carbs: There are only 5 grams of carbohydrates in a cup of almonds, which represents only 2% of your suggested daily requirement for carbs. Many people see this as a good thing, as low-carb diets are very popular right now. They give people a chance to boost their mineral and fat intake without adding too many empty carbohydrates. This makes them an excellent food to eat on the go or between meals!
- Fats & Proteins: A single cup of almonds has approximately 30 grams of protein and 71 grams of fat. Almonds contain a high level of fat. However, more than 50% of those fats are in the form of monounsaturated fats, which are good for heart health and are essential for organ function. However, they also contain bad fats, so it is important not to overdo it. A handful or two at a time is a great choice, and will give you a nice boost!
Benefits of Almonds
Almonds have a number of important health benefits, possibly including the potential ability to protect heart health, thanks to the high concentration of beneficial monounsaturated fats. They increase circulation, strengthen the bones, protect the skin, aid in digestion, and help control blood sugar levels. They have also been connected to boosting cognitive performance and reducing oxidative stress in the body!
Possibly Rich in Antioxidants & Vitamin E
Your body has many components that add to overall health, including the alkalinity of the systems. Almonds are great sources of alkali materials, and it is thought by some that this strengthens the immune system, as well as possibly increases the ability to stave off diseases and various health conditions.
Along with almonds’ alkalinity, they also have a possibly high content of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E seeks out damaging free radicals in the body and helps to eliminate them. Free radicals promote chronic diseases and can be hazardous to the body’s organs, so vitamin E does the body a great service.
Antioxidants like vitamin E found in almonds affect all major diseases, including cancer and heart diseases. Research has shown that people who ingest high levels of vitamin E are actually 30-40% less likely to develop heart diseases.
Another research study conducted in 2010 at the Salisbury General Hospitalreported that “almonds and almond oil have many properties including anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects.”
May Control Blood Sugar Levels
According to research, almonds may also help to reduce the reactionary rise in glucose and insulin levels after meals. This modulation offers protection from the dangerous spikes in blood sugar, which diabetics often suffer from following a large meal, or a meal with an unexpectedly high level of sugar in it.
They can help regulate the absorption and processing of glucose, making the entire process much smoother, and subsequently safer.
Might Regulate Blood Pressure
Research published in the journal Circulation revealed that subjects with high cholesterol significantly reduced the risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, including blood pressure.
Research conducted by Houston M from the Hypertension Institute in, Nashville, reports that says the “protein source is an important factor in the BP effect; animal protein being less effective than non-animal or plant protein, especially almond.”
Other nutrients contained in almonds also keep the body balanced in terms of essential needs, which can prevent many deficiencies. Adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy lifestyle; if certain elements are neglected, the entire body is affected, resulting in anxiety, stress, and increased blood pressure.
May Regulate Cholesterol Level
Regular consumption of almonds may help to increase the high-density lipoproteins (also known as HDL cholesterol levels) and helps to reduce the low-density lipoproteins (referred to as LDL cholesterol levels).
According to research done by Pennsylvania State University, almonds were found to reduce non‐HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and central adiposity, which are all important risk factors for cardiometabolic dysfunction. They maintained HDL cholesterol concentrations, a balance that is vital to healthy cholesterol levels.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Unsweetened almond milk can be used if you are attempting to lose weight. It is low-calorie and the mono-unsaturated fat contained in almonds satisfies the appetite and prevents overeating. The dietary fiber in almonds also contributes to the sensation of feeling full, despite eating only a small amount.
Studies have revealed that an almond-rich, low-calorie diet is good for obese people to assist in shedding their excess weight.
Studies have also shown that people who regularly consume almonds (at least twice a week) are far more likely to remain at their ideal weight, rather than those who rarely or never consume almonds and suffer from weight fluctuations.
Finally, the fiber contributes to consistent bowel movements, which can help in weight loss and the general health of the body through the elimination of toxins.
May Have Anticancer Potential
Almonds may improve the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing build-up and possibly the subsequent colon cancer. The National Cancer Center has done extensive research on the link between high-fiber diets and a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Research from the University of Colima, Colima in Mexico reveals that there is a protective effect of many types of nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, and almonds – on the development of breast cancer”. Results from the study report that, “they significantly reduced the risk for breast cancer by 2-3 times’.
A systematic review from the Mayo Clinic suggests that nuts like almond have anti-cancer properties, and may help lower cancer risk. However, more scientific evidence and research are needed.
May Prevent Heart Diseases
The mono-unsaturated fats, protein, and potassium contained in almonds are instrumental in protecting heart health. Vitamin E is also an effective antioxidant, known for helping to reduce the risk of heart diseases. The presence of magnesium in almonds may help circumvent heart attacks.
They help reduce the presence and impact of C-reactive proteins (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation. They are also a great source of folic acid. Therefore, they help to reduce the level of homocysteine, which contributes to fatty plaque buildup in arteries.
Furthermore, the flavonoids found in the skins of almonds combine with vitamin E to form a powerful shield against artery wall damage. Some research done by Aston University suggests that a short-term almond-enriched diet may improve vascular function in asymptomatic healthy men aged between 20 and 70 years without any effect on markers of oxidative stress.
May Boost Brain Health
Almonds are a possibly rich source of many nutrients which help in the development and health of the human brain. They have long been considered an essential food item for growing children.
Studies have shown that almond, as well as almond oil, is nutritive to the overall health and functioning of the nervous system. These dry fruits contain two vital nutrients, riboflavin, and L-carnitine, which have been linked to increased brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. While initial animal studies show positive results, more human studies are needed to make any stronger connections.
Might Improve Bone Health
Almonds are a fantastic source of many vitamins and minerals, and phosphorus is definitely counted among them! Phosphorus can have a considerable impact on the strength and durability of bones and teeth, while also helping to prevent the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis.
According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, the consumption of almonds has been associated with increased bone mineral density.
May Aid in Skin Care
The benefits of almonds with regards to skin health are well-known as almond oil massages are often recommended for newborn babies. Almond milk is also added to some soaps, because of its well-established reputation for reducing wrinkles, thereby reversing the signs of aging.
Research also links almond oils to be beneficial in cases of hand dermatitis and other skin diseases.
Might Reduce Inflammation
Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that the incorporation of almonds to your diet can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Many people associate the word “fat” with something negative, but in fact, certain fatty acids are essential for growth, development, and overall health. The body can’t create its own fatty acids, which is why we need to get them from dietary sources.
The two very important fatty acids are linoleic and linolenic acids. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation all around the body, which is a general condition from which people may suffer. Fatty acids also help reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, and they promote healthy skin and hair! All in all, these nuts pack a powerful, healthy punch.
May Boost Energy Production
The presence of manganese, copper, and riboflavin in almonds may help in energy production and metabolic rate. A research study conducted at Purdue University revealed that including almonds with a midday meal helps reduce the after-lunch memory decline in overweight and obese study participants.
May Prevent Constipation
According to NIH, almonds are rich in fiber, and like most other fiber-rich foods, they help prevent constipation. However, it is also important to drink a significant amount of water when eating high fiber foods to speed up the digestive process and reap the beneficial effects of the nut.
You don’t even need to eat an excessive amount of almonds; the amount of fiber in 4 or 5 is likely enough to keep your digestion and bowel movements regular.
Word of Caution
Just like any other food, these nuts have their downside, too. They contain oxalates; excessive oxalates can cause crystallization, which can lead to a host of different issues.
- People having kidney or gallbladder problems may need to avoid eating almonds and should speak with a medical professional.
- Eating too many of these nutty fruits can increase “bad” fat levels.
- The high-calorie count is also something you should be wary of, particularly if you are watching your weight.
While raw almonds are very good for you, as with everything else, moderation is key.