Last Updated August 5th, 2021
Almonds: A brief introduction
The scientific name for almond is Prunus dulcis. They are generally grown in India, North Africa, and the Middle East. They generally taste sweet, but bitter tasting almonds are also available. People generally consume them raw because of its sweet taste. Almonds are filled with nutrients and energy and are used since ancient times.
The bitter almonds are chosen to make almond oil whereas the sweet almonds are used in various industries. They contain fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, as well as are rich in fat. One of the well-known health benefits of almonds includes lowering cholesterol levels. They are also used for the treatment of heart problems, brain disorder, constipation, anemia, cough, respiratory disorder, as well as impotence.
They are used to nourish the hair, skin, as well as promote dental care. Almonds are known to enhance the taste of several food items ranging from salads, ice creams, cakes, etc. Almonds are also used to make almond milk, which seems to be a suitable alternative to the cow’s milk.
Different types of almonds
There are 25 varieties of almonds and are divided into 3 types.
- Nonpareil: These almonds have a thin outer shell and smooth skin. They are flat in shape.
- California: This variety includes Monterey, Sonora, Carmel almonds. The shells of these almonds are hard.
- Mission: These almonds have wrinkled skin and are widely used. These almonds also have a very hard shell.
Almond: A hub of nutrients
Almonds are rich in nutrients and have high amounts of calories. A handful of almonds may provide around 500 calories. On average, a cup of almonds provides:
- 1 mg sodium.
- 4.4 mg of zinc.
- 828 kcal energy.
- 5.1 mg niacin
- 30.2 g protein.
- 71.4 g fat.
- 30.8 g carbohydrates.
- 385 mg calcium.
- 17.9 g fiber.
- 6 g sugar.
- 385 mg calcium.
- 5.3 mg iron.
- 386 mg magnesium.
- 688 mg phosphorous.
- 1.4 g potassium.
- 1.6 milligrams riboflavin.
Fast facts on almonds
- More than 2 billion pounds of almonds are produced worldwide.
- Almond consumption dates back to 4000 BC.
- Wild almonds contain cyanide as well as taste bitter.
- Almond industry is estimated at 4.3 billion dollars.
- Almond is not a nut, but a seed.
Almonds: Health benefits galore
Reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is referred to as the abnormal functioning of the heart. Almonds are efficient in managing these heart problems and promoting a healthy heart. They are known to contain high amounts of antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids. Both are known to promote healthy heart function. The antioxidant flavonoids that are the compounds present in the plants combine with vitamin E and improve the health of arteries and help in the reduction of inflammation. This causes a lesser chance of plaque formation in the arteries and the blood flow is adequate.
Almonds promote brain function
An active brain is important for various functions in the body. The brain controls the functions of the body by transmitting signals to the necessary organ and activates the hormones that are essential for a certain function. Almonds are known for their dense nutrition content. Almonds have two important compounds namely riboflavin and L-carnitine. These two compounds are known to promote the neurological process in the brain. Old age may lead to deterioration of several neurological functions. Consuming almonds during old age helps to revive these neurological functions and provide the required nutrients to the brain which people may lack when they get older.
Use almonds to nourish the skin
A healthy and nourished skin portrays a better outlook. People use many cosmetic products to enhance the beauty of the skin so that they look good, but these cosmetics are chemical based and are known to cause various side effects. Almonds seem to be the answer to all these skin issues because of the rich source of nutrients present in it.
The antioxidant effect and the presence of vitamin E are known to enhance the beauty of the skin and reduce wrinkles. Almonds contain several compounds such as catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, kaempferol, as well as isorhamnetin that are known to fight skin infections and cancers. Because of the antioxidant effects, they are known to reduce the oxidative stress on the skin and protect the skin against harmful ultraviolet rays. The monounsaturated fats present in the almonds are known to improve the blood circulation as well as hydrate the skin appropriately.
Manage blood sugar levels
Abnormal levels of sugar present in the bloodstream are known to cause a medical condition called diabetes. Many factors are responsible for this condition and may vary from person to person. When a person is affected by diabetes, it slowly but surely affects the functioning of several other organs such as eyes, kidneys, liver, etc. Almonds are effective in managing blood sugar levels. The monounsaturated fatty acids present in the Almonds reduce the rate of sugars entering the bloodstream. Almonds also enhance the effectiveness of the insulin and in turn, manage the blood sugar levels.
Lose that extra weight
Almonds contain monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat. Almonds are also rich in fiber. Adding almonds during a diet plan helps in promoting adequate nutrition as well as cause the feeling of fullness. The satiety caused by the consumption of almonds reduces additional food intake. This, in turn, reduces calorie intake and helps in the process of weight loss during a diet plan. This makes almonds to be one of the better choices of food during a diet plan.
Increase nutrition absorption
Nutrition is important for the body. It provides the required energy required for the body and the brain to function properly. The monounsaturated fat present in almond is helpful in absorbing the fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin D. Almonds are also known to reduce the toxicity in the stomach, which in turn helps in absorption of important nutrients. Almonds are also known to regulate cholesterol synthesis as well as bile acid fluids. All these properties of almonds are known to promote the absorption of nutrients.
Digesting the food appropriately which we consume is necessary for the nutrients to be absorbed from the gut. Almond skins are rich in fiber and are wonderful prebiotics. The probiotics present in the intestine feed on the prebiotics and become active. This causes significant improvement in the digestion as well as detoxification.
Almonds are known for their antioxidant effects. A particular compound called gamma-tocopherol is a powerful antioxidant that is present in almonds. This antioxidant is known to reduce the free radicals present in the body and reduce oxidative stress. It promotes the normal functioning of the immune system and is helpful to reduce the multiplication of cancer cells and increase the number of healthy cells.
Get healthy bones
Bone health refers to the strength and normal functioning of the bones. Generally, the health of the bones deteriorates with age and people tend to experience soft and weak bones. Almonds contain a rich source of magnesium and phosphorous. These two minerals are known to help in the maintenance of healthy bones as well as provide strength to the bones. Almonds are also known to promote a healthy tooth by preventing tooth decay.
Almonds are generally healthy and safe to consume in the natural form. The only side effect associated with almonds is because of the allergic reactions caused by them. People who are allergic to almonds may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, loose stools, itching of the skin, as well as difficulty breathing. A skin prick or IgE antibody allergy test can determine if a person is allergic to almonds.
How to consume almonds?
Almonds are good for health when consumed raw and in moderate amounts. It is advised to snack upon almonds between meals but in small portions. This would provide the essential energy as well as keep the calories under control. Roasted almonds taste much better, but keep an eye on the salt intake associated with roasted almonds. Another advice would be to choose the almonds with the skin present. Most of the antioxidants and nutrients are present in the skin, so never miss a chance to consume them. They can be sliced and added to salads and other sweet dishes to enrich the taste as well as provide nutrition.
They can also be consumed in the form of almond butter, which may account to 190 calories for 2 tablespoons full of unsalted and no added sugar almond butter. High consumption of almonds is not advised since almonds contain a high concentration of calories. Almond milk can be a suitable alternative for cow milk.
It is necessary to undergo an allergy test before consuming almonds. The benefits definitely outweigh the risk associated with almond consumption and hence it can be assumed that almonds are essential in a daily diet.
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