Great healthy essences are held in … almonds
Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds, approximately 1 ounce, contains one-eighth of our daily protein needs.
Almonds may be eaten on their own, raw, or toasted; they are available sliced, flaked, slivered, as flour, oil, butter, or almond milk.
The health benefits of almonds have been documented for centuries, and modern research is backing up many of these claims – there any many goods reasons for people to include them in their diet.
What are almonds?
The almond is a species of tree native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East.
The almonds which we consume are, in fact, seeds; they are a “drupe” and are therefore not considered a true nut.
Almond trees are believed to have been one of the earliest trees to have been domesticated. Evidence of domesticated almond trees dating to 3,000-2,000 BC have been unearthed in Jordan.
The almond gets no less than ten mentions in the Bible, the first of which, in Genesis, describes it as being “among the best of fruits.”
Wild almonds (bitter almonds) contain glycoside amygdalin. Once an almond is crushed or chewed, this compound is converted into prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) – a deadly poison.
Eating a few dozen could be fatal. Domesticated almonds (sweet almonds), however, do not contain glycoside amygdalin and are, of course, safe to eat.
Health benefits of almonds
1. Almonds and heart disease
Almonds, along with nuts and seeds in general, are often associated with improved levels of blood lipids and being good for the heart.
There is evidence indicating that including almonds in your diet can help ward off heart disease.
One study, published in the journal Circulation, assessed almonds’ effect on coronary heart disease risk factors, the researchers concluded that “almonds used as snacks in the diets of hyperlipidemic subjects significantly reduce coronary heart disease risk factors, probably in part because of the nonfat (protein and fiber) and monounsaturated fatty acid components of the nut.”
In another study, published in 2014, scientists found that almonds significantly increased the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduced blood pressure and improved blood flow. Their findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.
2. They lower “bad” cholesterol.
Almonds added to the diet have a favorable effect on blood cholesterol levels, according to a clinical study by Dr. Gene Spiller, Director of the Health Research and Studies Center, Inc.
3. They protects artery walls from damage.
It was found that the flavonoids in almond skins work in synergy with the vitamin E, thus reducing the risk of heart disease (Research at Tufts University).
4. Almonds help build strong bones and teeth.
The phosphorus in almonds helps make this possible.
5. They provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss:
Although nuts are high in fat, frequent nut eaters are thinner on average than those who almost never consume nuts. (Data from the Nurses’ Health Study)
Those who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than were those who never or seldom ate them in a study involving 8,865 adults. (WHFood’s article on almonds)
6. Almonds lower the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals.
7. They help provide good brain function.
Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
8. They nourish the nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, almonds help increase high intellectual level and longevity.