How much do we know about the tiny superfood or the king of nuts, almonds?
As a child, I remember our mother would treat us with almonds soaked in water overnight and used to say, “Eat it, my child; you will never get sick.” I continued the trend with my sons.
I knew almonds were healthy, but I didn’t realize how healthy and wholesome they are until I started researching them.
What is An Almond?
First, an almond is not a nut; it is the seed of a tree and belongs to the same family as cherries, peaches, and mangoes.1<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus>
About 80% of the world’s almond production occurs in California, as almond trees grow best in warm, dry summers.
In 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration began allowing manufacturers to label packages with a statement saying that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.2<https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/10/6/1076/5523817?searchresult=1>
Almonds Nutrition Facts
Almonds also contain a decent amount of calcium, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorus. Almonds have heart-protective nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, copper, potassium, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Eating a few almonds may help prevent ailments like hyperlipidemia, inflammation, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and high insulin concentrations, and metabolic syndrome.3<https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/10/6/1076/5523817>
If I described all the health benefits of almonds, the article would turn into a journal, so let’s make this short and sweet.
Almonds Benefits For Health
Almonds Reduce Cholesterol.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has a lot of research on how almonds can improve cholesterol levels.4<https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/jaha.116.005162>
Almonds are Good for Heart Health.
According to the Harvard Public School of Health, we have scientific evidence to suggest that consumption of almonds 2 – 3 times a week reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% and coronary heart disease by 15%.5<https://www.onlinejacc.org/content/70/20/2519>
Almonds are rich in magnesium, and studies show that a diet deficient in magnesium can raise blood pressure.6<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10334795/>
The bottom line is people who eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease.7<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762129/>
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I could suggest a few almonds a day keeps the cardiologist away.8<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946253/>
Now let’s talk about how almonds affect cancer.
Eating Almonds May Reduce Cancer Risk
Medical News published an article about an encouraging study done in 2015 on women, which suggested that adding peanuts, walnuts, and almonds to the diet could reduce the risk of breast cancer 2 – 3 times.9<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26183374/>
Almonds Regulate Blood Sugar Levels.
One study suggested eating almonds had multiple beneficial effects on glycemic index and cardiovascular risk factors in Asian Indian patients with type-2 diabetes.
The results showed a significant decrease in average blood sugar levels. 10<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17116708/>
Almonds Help Maintain Weight.
Why would eating almonds help maintain weight, especially when they are high in fat? The answer is they are high in MUFA and PUFA (good fats) and fiber.
A study published in “The International Journal of Obesity” found that people who eat almonds lost more weight than those on a high-carb diet with the same number of calories.11<https://www.nature.com/articles/0802411#article-info>
Almonds are a Rich Source of Antioxidants.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which contains the antioxidant tocopherol, which protects our cells from oxidative damage, or oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a significant contributor to aging and disease. 12<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578028/>
Antioxidants boost the immune system.13<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30052782/>
Ongoing studies establish that a high intake of vitamin E can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.14<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5751107/>
Surprisingly, the outer brown skin is full of antioxidants, so please do not throw it away.15<https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf071780z>
Almonds Help Improve Bone Health.
Almonds are rich in nutrients like calcium. magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc, which are essential for keeping our bones healthy.16<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20947104/>
Almonds are Essential for Good Skin.
Vitamin E and vitamin B7 (biotin) in almonds make your hair and nails grow stronger and keep skin supple.17<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/>
The Multifaceted Almond
Ayurveda endorses almond and almond oil for memory loss, mood fluctuations, and skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis.
Almond oil softens and soothes the skin and muscles and readily penetrates the skin to reach deeper tissues.
In today’s world, with lactose intolerance and veganism prevalent, the demand for almond milk is growing by 14% every year. Almond milk has no cholesterol, is lactose-free, and has 0% saturated fat.
Almond butter has created a niche for itself as a healthier alternative to regular butter and even peanut butter. Almond butter is dense in minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Almond flour, also known as almond meal, is replacing regular flour, as it is protein-rich, and gluten-free. The fiber in almond flour keeps the stomach full and gut healthy.
Immature green almonds can be savored raw and are preserved or pickled in some parts of the world.
Almonds have tapped the healthy food market as an alternative to conventional snack foods. They are available in various flavors (sweet, salted, or savory) and with different coatings (honey, barbeque, or chili).
Almonds may be uncoated, roasted, or toasted and are available whole, sliced, or chopped.
Some cultures encourage soaking almonds overnight before eating them as they are much softer, less bitter, and more comfortable to digest after soaking.
It may be easier to absorb some of the nutrients in soaked almonds, but we need more research to confirm this.
If you eat raw almonds, note that there’s a small risk of toxicity if you consume too many bitter ones.18<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793392/>
Most almonds found in grocery stores are sweet almonds, not bitter almonds, so there is minimal risk. People with allergies to any nuts need to avoid almonds entirely.
With all the evidence we’ve discussed, it’s clear almonds have numerous health benefits and are quintessential food!
What do you think about Almonds? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comment below!
Sources & References