What are Almonds?
Almonds are edible oval-shaped nut-like seeds that come from the almond tree. It’s believed that Almonds are native to North Africa, Middle-East, and Asia.
The almond nut is considered a delicacy with several health benefits. You can add the buttery-tasting nut into any dish, or eat it raw or roasted as a healthy snack. Almonds are also used to produce almond milk, oil, butter.
However, technically speaking, almonds are not nuts. The edible part referred to as a nut is, in fact, a seed. The almond itself is a drupe. Sometimes referred to as ‘stone fruits,’ drupes are typified by a tough shell encasing a seed.
Why Almonds are considered a Super-food
Almonds are some of the most nutritious nuts. They are higher in calcium, fiber, vitamin E, niacin, and riboflavin than any tree nut. Almonds are also packed with potassium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids in addition to being low-glycemic index foods.
This unique nutrient combination of monounsaturated fats, plant-based protein, fiber, and critical nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E makes almonds a super healthy snack that impacts your heart health, cholesterol levels, inflammation, weight-loss, skin and hair health, and more.
A 2017 Nutritional Journal study showed that Americans who swapped snack foods for almonds saw a massive increase in nutrient consumption. The researchers found that those who opted for almonds consumed fewer solid fats, sodium, sugars, carbohydrates, and saturated fats.
Conversely, the amount of magnesium, good fats, and oils, protein, and fiber the study’s participants consumed increased by a considerable margin.
How to Incorporate Almonds to your Diet
In ancient Egypt, almonds were a prized ingredient and were considered a luxury in terms of procurement and health benefits. In the Roman and Swedish customs, almonds were believed to bring good fortune.
Today, almonds are everywhere. They are used to add color and taste to desserts. They provide a healthy alternative to milk. They are part of beauty regimes. All in all, they’re all-encompassing caregivers.
You can use almonds to make your food crunchier, flavorful, delectable, and to give it a nutritional boost, so that helps you combat various ailments.
To incorporate them into your cooking, you can include them in simple dishes or exquisite bakes. Or, you can mix then into your salads, blend them into your shakes and smoothies, and dunk them into your cookies and brownies. Almonds are hassle-free and fuss-free.
Here are the benefits of almonds to your health, wellness, as well as beauty:
Almond Benefits for Skin
Regular consumption of almonds can do wonders for your skin. Here are some of the benefits;
- Organic moisturizer
You can smash soaked almonds and apply the pulp to your skin as a natural moisturizer. If you have a dry skin, mix whipped cream into your almond pulp and use that daily as a face mask.
Your skin will be hydrated and nourished sufficiently. You will thus have a smooth, supple, and soft skin.
- Improve skin tone
If you want to regain your glow and improve your skin tone, soaked almonds got you. The nutrients in almonds accelerate new cell formation and internally repair damaged skin tissue. Hence, they enhance the texture and tone of your skin.
- Anti-aging properties
Almonds help counter aging. The antioxidants like Vitamin E that are packed into almonds purge free radicals from your body.
You can also add lemon, honey, or milk to almond paste and use that concoction to exfoliate your face. This will give you a fresh and new look.
- Organic make-up remover
Almond milk and almond oil are excellent alternatives to chemical-made make-up removers that, with time, take a toll on your skin. This natural almond-based make-up remover also reduces inflammations like rashes, acne, burns.
- Great for your eyes
A regular almond oil massage on your eyelids is a fantastic solution for eye wrinkles, puffy eyes, and dark circles. Also, if you’re yearning for those thick and long eyelashes, it’s about time you start applying almond oil on them.
Almonds Benefits for your Hair
Almonds don’t just benefit your skin; they can also help you grow that long and smooth hair. Here is how you can benefit from this magical food for hair:
- Natural hair conditioner
Soak your almonds in water for a night; in the next morning, mash them and mix the paste with olive oil to prepare an organic hair mask. Apply this paste on your hair and scalp daily. It’s a phenomenal hair conditioner that will give you healthy and smooth hair.
- Promote hair growth
Adding almonds to your dishes increases your intake of nutrients like Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, and D, as well as mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for healthy hair growth.
Also, Applying almond oil to your scalp reduces flakiness by moisturizing your scalp, nourishes your hair strands, and diminishes the damage inflicted by styling products.
- Heart health
Almonds are great for your heart. This is probably the best-known quality of almonds and two decades of research back it up. Almond consumption is linked to a reduced likelihood of heart disease.
For each serving of almonds in a week, the risk of death from heart disease is reduced by 8.3 percent or 37 percent on average. This is according to research conducted by the Nurses’ Health Study in 1998, Iowa Women’s Health Study in 1996, and the Physicians’ Health Study in 2002.
The research concluded that opting for almonds instead of refined carbohydrates snacks is an excellent way of supporting heart health.
Another Nurses’ Health Study also revealed that eating almonds in place of an equivalent quantity of carbohydrates reduced the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. And substituting saturated fats – such as those found in dairy products and meat – with almonds led to a 45 percent reduced risk.
Interestingly, research also shows that almonds are safe even for those with hyperlipidemia (excess lipoproteins or lipids in the blood) condition. These patients are usually advised to avoid nuts, but a 2002 Circulation study found that hyperlipidemic patients who enjoyed an almond-rich diet had decreased risk of heart disease.
- Lowers cholesterol Levels
Almonds are excellent in lowering cholesterol levels. This, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study conducted in 1994. The study found that replacing saturated fats with almonds reduces the level of LDL (bad cholesterol).
In a Journal of Nutrition study published in 2017, researchers found that people who opt for almond-rich diets end up with better-distributed HDL cholesterol subtypes.
Almonds are also packed with potassium and magnesium, which are vital for heart health. Potassium lowers blood pressure by promoting vasodilatation, and some studies have found that it also reduces the risk of ischemic heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Weight gain prevention and weight loss
Almonds combine fiber, good fats, protein, and satisfying crunch, which makes them s healthy snack that keeps away hunger and satisfies cravings.
Also, a 2003 study showed that if you combine a high-monounsaturated fat and low-calorie diet with almond, you’ll attain more weight loss than if you opt for a low-calorie and complex carbohydrates diet.
Consuming almonds can also help you limit weight gain. In a five-year study, researchers at Loma Linda University found out that people who ate almonds regularly stopped gaining weight and had a 5 percent lower chance of becoming obese or overweight.
- Great for gluten-free dieters
Gluten-free diets are typically low in fiber, protein, B vitamins, and iron, and high in sugar and saturated fat. If you’re a gluten-free dieter, you must fill this gap if you want to optimize nutrition.
Almonds are nutrient-rich, versatile, and naturally gluten-free and thus are perfect for health-conscious gluten-free dieters. All variants of almonds, including milk, butter, and flour, are excellent additions to a gluten-free diet.
- Boosts energy
Almonds aren’t just tasty; they also get you moving. They are packed with energy-encouragers like copper, manganese, and riboflavin.
Riboflavin, which is also referred to as vitamin B2 bolsters the production of red blood cells and facilities the release of energy from carbohydrates.
The National Institutes of Health also asserts that copper and manganese are part of an enzyme that eliminates free radicals within the mitochondria, which is where cells produce energy. These trace minerals, therefore, help your body remain energetic.
- Prevent gallstones
The fiber and fat in almonds keep the liver and gallbladder running smoothly and, in effect, prevent gallstones. Frequent almond consumers are 25 percent less likely to suffer from gallstones and need cholecystectomy – which a gallbladder removal procedure that’s done to take care of gallstones.
- Fights cancer
Studies link nut consumption to diminished cancer occurrence in women, especially endometrial and colorectal cancers.
Another observational study conducted in 2011 found that colon cancer survivors who ate nuts, including almonds, were 57 percent less likely to die and 42 percent less likely to experience cancer recurrence.
This doesn’t mean cancer patients should replace chemotherapy with nuts, but it suggests that colon cancer patients should remain optimistic and maintain a healthy diet that includes nuts. This will decrease the chances of cancer coming back.
Also, vitamin E and antioxidants in almonds are known for their cancer-fighting qualities.
A study conducted by the Shanghai Women’s Health Study in 2008 and another one by the Nurses’ Health Study revealed an inverse relationship between diabetes and regular consumption of almonds.
There is also evidence that almonds help to regulate blood sugar. In a 2006 study, participants ate controlled meals based on bread, rice, potatoes, or almonds. Researchers found out that insulin dropped after the almond meal, but didn’t after the other meals. Also, antioxidants in the blood of shot up after an almond-based meal, but declined after all the other meals.
- Improves brain function
Studies have shown that eating 4 to 6 almonds a day can bolster the functionality of your central nervous system and serve as a brain tonic.
And because almonds are packed with essential fats, they can significantly improve the memory and cognition of growing kids.
- Improves Bone Health
Almonds are packed with calcium and proteins. Calcium and protein are essential building blocks for healthy bones, and so an almond-rich diet is excellent for your bone health.
- Treats constipation
Eating soaked almonds can benefit those who’re suffering from chronic constipation. Almonds are packed with insoluble fiber, which increases the roughage in your digestive system and thus helps you manage chronic constipation.
- Great for pregnant women
If your baby is on the way, it’s prudent to add almonds to your diet. They are great for you and your baby. How so?
Almonds are packed with energy-inducing nutrients, like copper and manganese, which will boost your energy levels and nutritious components like folic acid, which will help you deliver trouble-free and shield your baby from congenital disabilities.
What are the Risks of Eating Almonds?
Are there almond allergies? An almond allergy is usually bundled with other nut allergies (like Brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashew nuts), and it can be severe.
Nut allergies top the list of allergies that often lead to anaphylaxis. Symptoms of nut allergies include diarrhea, abdominal pain, running nose or nasal congestion, shortness of breath, itching, and nausea. The allergies can be triggered by both nut products, including butter and oils, and the whole nuts.
Besides, poorly preserved almonds contain aflatoxins, chemicals created by mold that can cause cancer. If almonds have mold, which appears as black or gray filaments, it’s probably unsafe to eat. But the almond industry has set up programs to minimize aflatoxins; this is based on the Almond board reports.
How to Buy Quality Almonds
When buying almonds, chop an almond in half and check if it has a consistent white texture throughout. If it has a honeycomb or yellow texture, you should discard it; that one is past its prime.
Almonds and Pets
Animals can eat almonds safely, but with some caveats. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports indicate that almonds are safe for animals. However, too much of them can lead to stomach upset.
Do you want to start living your best healthy-life today? Go ahead and munch on those almonds.