The Bountiful Almond- God’s Gift To Humans

Almonds are the edible seeds of the plant Prunus Dulcis which is the almond tree. Almond is not a nut as many are wont to believe, it is a seed. Almonds were originally cultivated around 5000 years back in Jordan, Iran- what we call the Middle East today. The US is now the world’s largest producer specifically California.

Almonds are a source of innumerable health benefits. Just a handful will give you ⅛ of your daily protein requirements. Fasten your seatbelt as I take you on a ride showcasing this humble super food seed.

A Nutrients Profile Of Almonds

Credits: https://www.verywellfit.com/

The following information is provided by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 1 oz. (28 grams) of unsalted, whole almonds which is about 24 almonds.

  • Calories: 164
  • Fat: 14.2g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6.1g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Sugars: 1.2g
  • Protein: 6g

Also, they contain decent amounts of copper, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. Almonds abound in phytic acid which is a healthy antioxidant. It however retards the amount of iron, calcium, and zinc that almonds provide.

Almonds are Chock-a Block with Antioxidants

Almonds are a terrific source of antioxidants. Antioxidants combat oxidative stress that damage cell molecules, contribute to aging, and even lead to cancer.

These powerful oxidants in almonds are concentrated in the brown layer of the skins. For this reason, almonds that are blanched and have their skin removed are not a great idea from a health perspective. Some people are under the misconception that the skins are toxic and peel them off. A strict no-no.

Many clinical trials in their findings have borne out this to be true [1]

Almonds Are Rich In Vitamin E

Vitamin E belongs to a family of antioxidants that are fat-soluble. These antioxidants build up in cell membranes defending them from oxidative harm. Almonds rank as one of the best sources of Vitamin E with just one ounce providing 37% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) recommendation.

Blood Sugar Control- Almonds Are The Answer

Almonds can foil the silent killer, Diabetes. Being low in carbs but high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats they are a boon for those suffering from diabetes. Another windfall contained in almonds is the incredible amount of magnesium. This priceless mineral is involved in more than 300 bodily functions including blood sugar control.

Currently, the RDI of magnesium is 310-420 mg. 150 mg of this mineral is chipped in by 2 ounces of almonds. Interestingly, type 2 diabetes afflicts 25-38% who are deficient in magnesium. By removing this deficiency, blood sugar levels plunge significantly and insulin function improved.

People who do not have diabetes also benefit from magnesium supplementation by bringing down insulin resistance.

Magnesium also lowers blood pressure levels. Hypertension is a contributor to heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes. High blood pressure is not linked to one’s being overweight. If your magnesium levels are not up to the mark, adding almonds to your diet will make a pay-off.

Cholesterol Levels And The Role Of Almonds

When blood lipoproteins or LDL levels also commonly termed “bad cholesterol” in the blood rise, the risk factor for heart disease also rises. LDL levels are affected by your diet. Some studies have indicated that almonds can in fact lower LDL levels. A 16-week study involving 65 volunteers with prediabetes benefitted from a diet designed to provide 20% of calories from almond. The findings were encouraging- LDL cholesterol levels fell by 12.4mg/dL on average. [2]

Yet another study found that consuming 1.5 ounces or 28 grams of almonds daily brought down LDL cholesterol by 5.3mg/dL without disturbing “good” HDL cholesterol.

An added advantage was the loss of belly fat. [3]

Almonds Do Away With Harmful Oxidation Of LDL Cholesterol

Lowering LDL levels apart, almonds play another vital role in ensuring your well-being. LDL is susceptible to oxidation. Preventing this from happening is a giant step in preventing the development of heart disease.

The humble almond steps in here. Almond skin has an abundance of polyphenol antioxidants which retard the oxidation of cholesterol. Lab studies have established this. [4]

When ingested in combination with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, this effect is enhanced.

A human study has concluded that snacking on almonds for a month brought down oxidized levels of LDL by 14%. [5]

This spells great news in the war against mitigating heart disease.

Almonds Quell Appetite

Almonds are naturally high in protein and fiber while being low on carbs. Proteins and fiber promote a feeling of fullness. This makes you want to eat less.

A 4-week study involving 137 candidates revealed that a daily intake of 1.5 ounces or 43 grams of almonds reduced the urge to eat considerably. [6]

Almonds And Weight Loss

Nuts and seeds contain a heck of a lot of nutrients. The sad part is that your body cannot break these down easily and digest them. 10 to 15% of the calories are lost in the process.

As touched on earlier, the satiating effect of consuming almonds is a natural deterrent to hunger pangs. Quality human studies have proven this as a fact.

A study involving a low-calorie diet where 3 ounces ( 84 grams) upped weight loss by 63% by comparison with a diet enriched by complex carbohydrates. [7]

The verdict. Although almonds are rich in fat, they remain weight-loss-friendly food.

Wrapping It All Up

A word of caution. Almonds are high in calorie count. If you are one of those binge eaters, this has to figure in your blacklist. The trick here is moderation.

Almonds are a super food. They are the ultimate thing as a perfect food.

Do include them in your everyday diet. You will perceive the results mighty soon.

References:

[1] Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Josse AR, Salvatore S, Brighenti F, Augustin LS, Ellis PR, Vidgen E, Rao AV. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr. 2006 Dec;136(12):2987-92. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.12.2987. PMID: 17116708.

[2] Wien M, Bleich D, Raghuwanshi M, Gould-Forgerite S, Gomes J, Monahan-Couch L, Oda K. Almond consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with prediabetes. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3):189-97. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2010.10719833. PMID: 20833991.

[3] Berryman CE, West SG, Fleming JA, Bordi PL, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of daily almond consumption on cardiometabolic risk and abdominal adiposity in healthy adults with elevated LDL-cholesterol: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 Jan 5;4(1):e000993. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000993. PMID: 25559009; PMCID: PMC4330049.

[4] Chen CY, Milbury PE, Lapsley K, Blumberg JB. Flavonoids from almond skins are bioavailable and act synergistically with vitamins C and E to enhance hamster and human LDL resistance to oxidation. J Nutr. 2005 Jun;135(6):1366-73. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.6.1366. PMID: 15930439.

[5] Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, Parker TL, Connelly PW, Qian W, Haight JS, Faulkner D, Vidgen E, Lapsley KG, Spiller GA. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 2002 Sep 10;106(11):1327-32. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.0000028421.91733.20. PMID: 12221048.

[6] Tan SY, Mattes RD. Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Nov;67(11):1205-14. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.184. Epub 2013 Oct 2. PMID: 24084509; PMCID: PMC3898316.

[7] Wien MA, Sabaté JM, Iklé DN, Cole SE, Kandeel FR. Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Nov;27(11):1365-72. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802411. Erratum in: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Mar;28(3):459. PMID: 14574348.

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