Almonds contain the most nutrients in comparison to all other nuts. They are particularly rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help to lower LDL (aka bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (aka good cholesterol). The vast health benefits of almonds allow them to be part of the “Super foods List”. Just a handful of almonds a day provides much of the recommended levels of minerals, vitamins and protein you need in your healthy food diet.
The Ancient Romans referred to Almonds as “Greek nuts” since they were first cultivated in Greece and generally in the Mediterranean. Almond trees are mostly found in sunny dry and warm climates. Spanish missionaries are credited for taking the almond to the United States which is now responsible for almost 80% of the worlds almond production. More specifically, California produces over 1 million tons of almonds every year.
The most common health benefits of almonds are:
1. Crazy About Your Heart – Go Nuts!!! – According to studies, eating a handful of almonds regularly can reduce the risk of a heart attack by at least 50%. Almonds are a good source of folic acid which helps fight fatty plaque that builds up in the arteries. High levels of Vitamin E are also found in almonds, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage and assisting in the formation of red blood cells.
2. Prevents Constipation – Almonds are rich in fiber which helps for proper bowel movement which in turn aids to clear the intestine. To help with constipation it is wise to drink a lot of water after eating almonds.
3. Pregnancy Aid – Due to the folic acid mentioned above, almonds help reduces the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies. Folic acid is a B-Vitamin that helps in the growth of cells and ensures the healthy growth of the fetus.
4. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels – Almonds contain potassium which helps in regulating blood pressure. Moreover the sodium content in almonds is low; this too is also instrumental in controlling blood pressure. Almonds also have a stabilizing effect on sugar and insulin levels after meals, offering protection from diabetes. They also contain magnesium which is another mineral that helps your body regulate its blood
5. A Super Alkalizing Food – Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming. When your body is not alkaline enough, you risk having a poor immune system, osteoporosis, low energy and a tendency to gain weight.
6. Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk – Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which are nutrients that boost brain activity and can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Aid in Weight Loss – According to the California Almond Board, eating approximately 23 almonds, you will consume 160 calories but you will also intake 6 g of protein and 4 g of fiber, both of which make you feel full. In 2007 a study in Spain revealed that people who ate nuts in general, twice a week, were over 30% less likely to gain weight than those who never or almost never eat nuts.
The Disadvantages of Eating Almonds
Just like any other food, even almonds have their disadvantages. They contain oxalates which can cause crystallization, so people that have kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating almonds. All foods, including “superfoods” provide a healthy diet if you consume them with moderation in a well-balanced diet.