Almonds, or also known as the ‘King of Nuts,’ are a drupe that belongs to species of Prunus, a genus of trees and shrubs, which also includes apricots, cherries, plums, and peaches. The almond is thought to have originated in North Africa, West Asia and the Mediterranean. The Ancient Romans called it the “Greek nut” because it was first cultivated in Greece. In botanical terms, the almond fruit is actually not a nut, but a seed of a fruit, consisting of an outer skin that covered with a hard shell. Almonds are usually sold shelled or unshelled.
This super nut, either with or without skin, provides a number of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to stay healthy. Almonds are the most nutrient-rich nut among all other nuts. The extensive nutrients contained in almonds include vitamin B2, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, protein, phosphorus, calcium, and copper. Additionally, almonds are high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, which contribute to a healthy heart. The benefits of almonds are almost endless. Here are some proven health benefits of almonds.
1. Reduce the risk of heart disease
Eating almonds regularly may reduce the risk of heart disease. This is mostly due to the huge amounts of vitamin E found in these nuts, which is known to have cardio-protective effect. A study shows that those who consumed almonds five times a week had a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart disease.
2. Lower LDL cholesterol
Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which help to lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol, while maintaining HDL (good) cholesterol. A handful of almonds every day can lower your bad cholesterol level by as much as 10%.
3. Control blood pressure
Since almonds are low in sodium and high in potassium content, snacking on them may help control your blood pressure. Choose unsalted or unseasoned variety of almonds for greatest benefits.
4. Fight cancers
Being high in dietary fiber, the almond helps to improve the food movement through the colon, and thus reduce the risk of colon cancer. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin E, phytochemicals and flavonoids which suppress the growth of breast cancer cells.
5. Improve blood circulation
The high level of magnesium in almonds promotes artery health and improves the blood flow to the brain. It also contains iron, which helps carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
6. Strengthen bones and teeth
Almonds are good sources of micronutrients such as calcium and phosphorus, which prevent osteoporosis and strengthens the bones and teeth. It also provides other nutrients that help to increase the bone mineral density, which helps to strengthen the skeletal system.
7. Help to lose weight
The high fiber content of almonds helps control the amount of calories intake. They also contain protein which satisfies your appetite very soon therefore you are less likely to overeat. Studies have shown that those who ate a diet rich in almonds lost up to 62 percent more weight and 56 percent more body fat than those who rarely ate almonds.
8. Regulate blood sugar levels
Almonds are a low glycemic index (GI) food. Studies showed almonds have the ability to decrease the after-meal rises in blood sugar and hence they help in lowering blood sugar levels.
9. Prevent gallstones
Another health benefit of almonds is to help prevent gallstones by keeping your gallbladder healthy. Regular consumption of almonds have been shown to lower the risk of gallstone buildup by up to 25 percent. Although almonds may help prevent gallstones, but people who are already suffering from kidney or gallbladder problems, should avoid these nuts because of their oxalates properties.
10. Boost energy
Almonds are pack with all energy-booster minerals like manganese, copper and riboflavin, which speed up the production of cellular energy.
11. Good for brain health
Scientific study has found that Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that helps in the development of the brain function. Ayurveda recommends having five almonds soaked in the morning every day for maximum brain power.
12. Remedy for anemia
Almonds contain copper, iron and vitamins. The copper along with iron and vitamins, acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of hemoglobin. Therefore, it is a great remedy for anemia.
13. Treat constipation
Due to its high fiber content, almond is very beneficial for the digestive system and the treatment of constipation.
14. Skin care
Almond oil is an excellent moisturizer as it contains olein glyceride linoleic acid. It helps to prevent acne, blackheads as well as dry and itchy skin. It also contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals.
15. Treat hair problems
Almond oil is also very useful for treating all kinds of hair problems. This oil helps treat hair fall, dandruff and prevents thinning of hair.
When looked at the health benefits of almonds, it is no wonder if this drupe is regarded as ‘King of Nuts’. Almonds are nutritionally beneficial to the bones, heart, hair, skin, and immune health, and a tasteful addition to your meal.