Almond is one of the most popular tree nut. It has an unique sweetness and crunch. It is gaining much adoration these days because of its versatility and health benefits.
In earlier days Romans showered newlyweds with almond as a fertility charm.
Almond is not a true nut, but basically seed from a tree called Prunus dulci which is native to Iran, neighbouring countries and central Asia.But these days California is top most in production of almonds, where around 10 lac acres of land is used for almond cultivation.
The fruit of almond otherwise called as drupe , which consists of an outer hull and a hard shell with seed. The shell is removed by a process called ‘shelling’ to reveal seed i.e almond.
The seeds are available in 2 forms in market. Blanched and Unblanched. The unblanched seeds that are most commonly available in market have a brown coloured seed coat, when it is boiled in water to remove the seed coat it is called blanched. Unblanched seeds are healthful.
There are around 30 sorts of almonds. Almonds are predominantly sweet in taste. A few trees produce bitter almonds too.
ALMOND IN CULINARY
Almonds can be eaten whole or shredded or chopped. It can be raw or roasted. Oils, milks and butter can be extracted from almonds too. Almonds are used in almond cookies, biscuits and cakes. Almond paste is used in pastry and other desserts. Smoked and salted almonds can be consumed as a snack as such. It is included in Mughlai curries.
A drink made up of almonds and milk is also prepared and served in ceremonies. Almond coffee is also famous in few countries. Almonds are used to prepare badam halwa,sherbet-e-badam and barfi.
ALMOND AND HEALTH
There are numerous health benefits of almonds which are listed below.
Almond is ample in nutrients. It is highly rich in proteins, fibres, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Following are the nutrients that are present in abundance in almonds as proved by USFDA. Every One-ounce serving or 28 grams (about 23 almonds) provides
- Calories- 161
- Protein – 6 grams
- Carbohydrate- 12 grams
Fibre- 4 grams
- Fat- 14 grams
- Vitamin E (35 percent DV [daily value])
- Riboflavin (20 percent DV)
- Magnesium (20 percent DV)
- Manganese (32 percent DV)
- Calcium (8 percent DV)
- Potassium (6 percent DV)
Almond had following health benefits
Almond and anti-oxidants
Almonds are opulent source of antioxidants. Unblanched almonds are abundant in antioxidants .The outer brown coat in unblanched almond is plentiful in flavonoids and the inner white portion in vitamin E. Both are effective antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that safeguards body from oxidative stress. It intercepts damage to cells from oxidants and free radicals.
ALMONDS AND DIABETES
Almond is a low glycemic index food. In the sense this nutrient rich nut releases calories steadily. So it maintains a constant level of appropriate blood sugar level in body for a sustained period.
It is profuse in magnesium, a mineral helpful in reducing insulin resistance in body. Hence concomitantly controls blood sugar level.
Almond is also copious in protein and fibre. Both are considered healthy for diabetes Among the carbohydrate present in almond, a large proportion in indigestible. So it does not append to extra calories.
ALMONDS AND HYPERTENSION
Almonds are loaded with healthy fats, and less in cholesterol. It lowers LDL levels in blood. Hence it contributes for prevention of high blood pressure.
It also increases level of HDL cholesterol otherwise called as good ‘cholesterol’. It has adequate magnesium level, which further helps in blood pressure control
ALMONDS AND HEART HEALTH
Almonds are plenteous in monounsaturated fatty acid instead of saturated fatty acids. Almonds effectively reduce LDL levels in blood.
LDL is otherwise called ‘Bad cholesterol’. Almonds also halts ‘oxidation of LDL cholesterol’, a process that leads to athero-schlerosis and ultimately heart attack. Increasing HDL levels in blood has a shielding effect on heart.
ALMONDS AND WEIGHT LOSS
A handful of almonds a day slims down weight as well as lessens belly fat. As it has modest carbohydrate but plentiful of protein and fiber , when it is consumed it gives a sense of fullness in stomach.
It has a satiety effect. Around 10-15 % of carbohydrates are indigestible. Hence it does not add to extra calories
ALMONDS AND GUT HEALTH
There are some beneficial bacteria in human intestine , such as Saccharomyces, Bifidobacterium .Together these are called gut flora. Almonds act as a prebiotics for gut flora , hence helps in maintaining healthy bacteria inside intestine. It prevents against pathogenic bacteria infections.
ALMONDS AND CONSTIPATION
As almond is bountiful in fiber content , that increase the gastrointestinal motility and prevents constipation
ALMONDS AND MEMORY
Most of us were advised by our mothers or grandmothers to eat soaked almonds daily to improve memory power. In fact they were right. Studies have proved that almond improves memory as well as cognitive functioning of brain.
Omega3 fatty acid, Vitamin B6, Zinc, Protein and vitamin E in almonds contribute either directly or indirectly to maintain neurons in a good health. Almond elevates level of a neurotransmitter called as Acetylcholine (Ach) in brain, that is vital for memory functions. Hence it prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
So the bottom line is if you take around 8-10 number of soaked almond a day it will empower your brain with good memory.
ALMONDS AND BEAUTY
Almond being a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin E and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids nourishes skin and hair.
Ancient queen Cleopatra was said to have included almonds in her diet and beauty regime for a clear, acne free and soft skin.
This ancient beauty secret in the form of almond milk, when applied on skin screens from sunlight. We can use almonds as scrub. Almond oil and milk is useful as natural makeup remover. It further diminishes dark circles and puffy eyes.
Almond oil favours growth of long and healthy hair. It also brings down flakes and dandruff. Eating almond daily strengthens hair, as almond is rich in nutrients like magnesium.
ALMONDS AND CANCER AND AGEING
During the process of metabolism in our body certain harmful substances like ROS or Reactive Oxygen Species are produced , that are highly unstable compounds. These have a tendency to undergo chain reactions with various cellular components like cell membrane , proteins, genes and destroy them which in turn leads to Ageing and Cancer.
Antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids present in almond prevents these chain reactions by neutralizing ROS and halting the process.
Studies have proved that antioxidants present in almond decreases biomarkers of oxidative stress in human body. Thus almond have and anticancer and anti-ageing effect.
Hence almond is a ‘superfood’ and a must have in your diet if you want to stay young, healthy and beautiful.
Do you want to share any other health related benefits of almonds? Comment below.