Are you looking for a healthy snack to control your hunger pangs? Try a handful of almonds. Nobody could reason about several health benefits of almonds as they are widely accepted. This nutrient-dense super food is high in beneficial nutrients like magnesium, vitamin E and copper and is an excellent source of protein and fibre.
Though many people refer to almonds as nuts, they are seeds of the fruit of almond trees. These trees are native to Middle East, India and North Africa. Sweet almonds are eaten raw or while the bitter variety is used to extract almond oil.
Nutritional content in almonds
Almonds are rich in a variety of nutrients. A one-ounce serving of almonds contains 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates.
- Fibre: 3.5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 14 grams
- Vitamin E : 37 % RDA
- Manganese : 32% RDA
- Magnesium : 20 % RDA
Almonds also contain copper, vitamin B2, phosphorus and folate.
Health benefits of almonds
History of almonds dates back to the Old Testament of the Bible. Almonds were amongst the earliest cultivated foods. Numerous health benefits have been attributed to almonds for centuries.
Modern scientific research backs up many of these ancient claims. Let us look at some of the health benefits of almonds:
1. Protects against diabetes
Studies have shown that eating almonds helps people with type 2 diabetes to maintain their blood glucose levels. Almonds can help prevent diabetes as they are rich in magnesium. Two ounces of almonds can provide half the recommended dose of magnesium to the body.
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Magnesium is an essential mineral as it is responsible for many functions in the body, including diabetes control. Almost 38 percent of type 2 diabetics are deficient in magnesium.
When we correct this deficiency (1) their blood sugar levels come down, and the function of insulin improves.
2. Lowers blood pressure
Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce arterial inflammation, which helps lower the pressure inside arteries. The high magnesium content of almonds also helps to lower blood pressure.
A deficiency in magnesium can lead to high blood pressure (2). So, we must add almonds to our diet to make up for the lack of magnesium in our diets.
3. Good source of antioxidants
Almonds are an excellent source of antioxidants, but most of the oxidants are found in the brown skin of the almonds. So, blanched almonds are not the best option for intake of antioxidants.
According to a four-week clinical study (3) of 60 smokers, consuming 84 grams of almonds every day reduces oxidative stress biomarkers by 23 to 34 percent.
4. Can lower cholesterol levels
Almonds contain monounsaturated fats that decrease bad cholesterol and improve the good cholesterol. These fats also ensure that LDL cholesterol does not oxidise.
According to a 16-day study on 65 pre-diabetic people, a diet with 20 percent calories from almonds lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by 12.4 mg/dl (4).
5. Prevents cancer
Almonds can help prevent certain types of cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, patients with colon cancer who eat nuts like almonds are less likely to see their cancer returning as compared to those who didn’t eat nuts.
We can attribute this to the fibre present in the almonds. This fibre detoxifies the body and also helps the digestive system to work more efficiently. Vitamin E, flavonoids and phytochemicals present in the almonds also help control the growth of breast cancer cells.
6. Keeps brain healthy and active
Almonds have always been considered a superfood for improving brain function. Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, both of which are very useful in enhancing neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline.
Almonds also help in lowering the risk of inflammation that can cause brain disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. According to some studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, antioxidants like vitamin E in nuts may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
7. Help reduce signs of ageing
Almonds are a fabulous source of vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce the signs of ageing. These antioxidants protect the cells from oxidative damage. Just one ounce of almonds can provide almost 37 percent of your required daily intake.
Almonds contain high amounts of catechin, epicatechin and flavanol antioxidants like quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. These antioxidants also help fight skin cancer and help reverse the damage caused by pollution and exposure to UV light.
Almonds are rich in healthy fats and fibre. Having a handful of almonds as a snack helps you stay full for a longer time and prevents overeating. During to a four-week study, 137 people were given 43 grams of almonds with breakfast or lunch.
The study concluded that a healthy snack of almonds reduced hunger and desire to eat significantly (5). Almonds are high in protein and fibre content, and this makes them an ideal food for weight loss.
9. Helps maintain healthy teeth and bones
Almonds are rich in trace minerals like magnesium and phosphorous, both of which are essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. So, eating almonds help prevent tooth decay and cavities. They also help lower the risk of fractures and fight osteoporosis.
10. Good for pregnancy
Almonds are an excellent source of folate, which should be an essential part of a pregnant woman’s diet as it helps prevent congenital disabilities in babies. It also promotes cell growth and tissue formation.
Though doctors prescribe folic acid during pregnancy, make sure you also add almonds to your prenatal diet. Make sure you soak the almonds to derive the benefits of folate from them.
11. Boosts energy
Almonds contain riboflavin, manganese and copper, which help boost energy and metabolic rate. According to a recent study, having 14 grams of almonds will significantly help in raising energy levels.
12. Helps reduce inflammation
Almonds contain linoleic acid and linolenic acids, both of which help in reducing inflammation in the body. Almonds are also very rich in vitamin E which protects the body from the effects of harmful free radicals and help reduce inflammation.
There are numerous health benefits of almonds and also they are a tasty and nutritious snack. Include almonds in your daily diet, and you will be able to prevent many serious ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Almonds are also helpful in keeping us slim and boosting our energy levels.