Life is fast paced and hectic for everyone of us today. And we are all in search of a balanced state of affairs, be it in work, health, food or other aspects of life. And to stay happy, healthy and successful one needs to eat right. So the importance of a balanced diet assumes more importance every minute of life.
To eat a balanced meal, the amount of vital nutrients must be in exact quantities. And to get all the nutrients one has to incorporate all food items which contain carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals etc in the right amount. We get these nutrients from many fruits, vegetables and cereals too and some of the required nutritious stuff is found in nuts too. Nuts are simple dried fruits which have two edible kernels inside a hard shell.There are many kinds of nuts like almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts etc.The consumption of nuts does not increase weight gain and they protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Almond is a species of a deciduous tree called Prunus Dulcis which is a native to Iran. It is the most popular tree nut of the world. It’s flowers are white or pale pink. It grows best in Mediterranean climates. They are packed with lots of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibers and give us many health benefits. They are used to produce almond milk, oil, butter, flour and a paste called Marzipan. One ounce of almond fulfills one-eighth of a person’s daily protein needs.
These are the star nuts of the complete nut package and are eaten raw, toasted as a snack or added to sweet or savory dishes. They are considered a nut but are actually seeds.They are found in a lot of varieties and classified by their varied colors, shapes and sizes. Almonds do take the crown home when it comes to balancing taste and health factors. Almond is one food item which is loaded with nutrition. An ounce of almond(24 seeds) has 180 calories, 6gms of proteins and 14 gms of heart-healthy fat.
How to incorporate almond in our diets
We can eat almonds in more than one way:-
1.Almonds are a super alternative to dairy. Almond milk and almond yoghurt are similar to the dairy versions. We can pour it up over our cereals, add it to our cuppa of coffee or enjoy it straight away. The regular yoghurt can be replaced with this antioxidant-rich alternative and can be used in any way one wants to.
2.Almond butter can be used instead of peanut butter in many ways and is a definite healthier version than the former.
Facts about almonds
1.Almonds are a rich source of proteins, fibre and nutrients.
2.Almond trees are the oldest domesticated trees dating back to 3000 to 2000 BC in Jordan.
3.Almonds reduce the risk of cholesterol.
4.Almonds regulate blood sugar.
5.Excess consumption of almonds can cause nausea, diarrhoea, shortness in breath, problems in swallowing.
6.Almond is not a nut, it is a seed of a fruit.
7.Almonds can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 years because of it’s high content of vitamin E.
8.Almond is considered a major brain food for children.
Benefits of almonds
1.Almond has lot of proteins–Almond has selenium to fight depression and anxiety.There are fatty acids in almonds which are essential to produce male hormones which regulate sex drive.
2.Almond lowers LDL(bad)cholesterol–Almond is packed with magnesium and potassium which helps oxygen and nutrients flow more freely through the blood. Consuming almonds increases the levels of vitamin E in the red blood cells and reduces risk of cholesterol. When there is a high level of vitamin E in the bloodstream, antioxidants are formed which prevent the cells from clogging and developing cholesterol.
3.Almond builds bones too–One ounce of almond has calcium equal to ¼ cup of milk. It also has phosphorus to keep the skeleton healthy, lowering the risk of fractures and breaks. It also has phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and stops them from getting absorbed.
4.Almonds have a lot of antioxidants–Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress which can damage molecules in the cells and contribute to inflammation, aging and diseases like cancer. The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely present in the brown layer of the skin. So blanched almonds with their skins removed are not the best choice from the health perspective.
5.Almonds are rich in vitamin E–Almonds protect the cells from getting toxic because they have vitamin E. Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble antioxidants. These antioxidants build up in cell membranes in the body protecting cells from oxidative damage. Almonds are the world’s best source of vit E. Higher amounts of vit E intake helps to lower rates of heart, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. But care has to be taken to consume almonds moderately as an excessive intake of this nut can lead to prostate cancer.
6.Almonds help to lower blood sugar-Almonds help to regulate blood sugar and stabilize it. These nuts are low in carbohydrates but high in healthy fats, protein and fiber. These are a perfect choice for diabetics. Almonds contain a high amount of magnesium which is a mineral associated with more than 300 body processes and which develops insulin resistance in the body thereby stabilizing the condition of diabetes.
7.Almonds help to reduce blood pressure levels–Magnesium in almonds also helps to lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. If one has a deficiency in magnesium, then he/she is bound to have high blood pressure whether the person is obese or not.
8.Almonds help to lower cholesterol levels–The high levels of LDL lipoproteins in the blood is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol which is a known factor causing heart disease. Our diet has many effects on LDL levels. And almonds help to reduce LDL levels.
9.Almonds prevent harmful oxidation of LDL Cholesterol–Almonds do more than just lower LDL levels in the blood. They also protect LDL from oxidation which if not prevented can lead to the development of heart disease. Almond skin is rich in polyphenol antioxidants which prevents oxidation of cholesterol in test tubes and animal studies.
10.Almonds reduce hunger pangs and lower overall intake of calories–Almonds are low in carbs and high in proteins and fiber. Eating proteins and fiber helps to give a feeling of fullness which helps to eat fewer calories.
11.Almonds also help to reduce weight loss– These nuts have certain nutrients which the body struggles to break down and digest. Our body does not absorb about 10%-15% of the calories in nuts. Eating nuts can help to boost metabolism. Almonds have high content of protein and fiber and low levels of carbohydrates that curbs one’s appetite and reduces the intake of the number of calories on a daily basis.
12.Almonds are good for the heart–When almonds are consumed with other nuts, it is good for the heart. People who ate almonds had more antioxidants in their bloodstream which also helped to reduce blood pressure and improved blood flow in various parts of the body.
13.Almonds are good for the eyes–Almonds have a lot of vitamin E that protects the eyes and prevents abnormal changes to the lens.
14.Almond nourishes skin-Almonds are an important ingredient in many skin products which is because of the fact that almond contains flavonoids similar to the ones found in green tea and broccoli. This component nourishes the skin and has an anti-ageing property for the skin.
15.Almonds prevent cancer-Almonds have a certain amount of fiber that helps in detoxifying the body. Eating almonds helps the food to move through the digestive system more easily. The fibers in it reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. It also has loads of vitamin E and flavonoids that regulate breast cancer.
16.Almonds improve brain capacity–Almonds contain L-carnitine and riboflavin that helps in the growth of brain cells. A major chemical that assists the brain in cognitive function is ‘Phenylalanine’ which is found in almonds. Consuming 5 pieces of almonds can help to boost brain power.
17.Almonds are best for treating anemia-Anemia is caused when red blood cells carry very less oxygen to the brain. Almonds contain copper, iron and vitamins which help in producing more hemoglobin and thus almonds help to control anemia.
18.Almonds are good for the nerves-Almonds have magnesium in them which helps the nervous system. It also helps to develop a healthy metabolic rate. Magnesium also helps in the development of better bone tissue.
19.Almonds treat acne and blackheads-Almonds prevent acne, blackheads, whiteheads because of the fatty acids found in them. These fatty acids control the oil which gets clogged in the skin pores and when applied to the skin it helps to reduce skin rashes.
20.Almonds treat stretch marks-Almond oil treats stretch marks by nourishing the skin and prevents skin tear.
21.Almonds prevent grey hair-Almond oil is good to treat many kinds of hair problems from hair fall to hair turning grey. Almond oil helps to cure dandruff and gives a silky and shiny texture to the hair.
22.Almonds help in hair growth–The lack of magnesium in the body leads to loss of hair and the high amount of magnesium in it helps the hair to grow fast and develop strong strands.
23.Almonds are natural anesthetics-Almond oil has a toxic compound called ‘Glycoside Amygdalin’ which makes the nerves insensitive making the area of application numb. This bitter almond oil can be used only as an anesthetic and not for any other purpose.
24.Almonds increase mental alertness-Almonds when mixed with milk become rich in potassium. It is one of the main minerals that boost the number of electrolytes in the body providing the body with more energy. When there is a boost in electrolytes the flow of memory increases.
25.Almonds prevent birth defects-Almonds contain folic acid that protects the mother from any sort of birth defects. Folic acid helps in the healthy development of cells and helps further in the life cycle of a growing fetus.
Risks of consuming almonds
Almonds though are good for health but they come with certain drawbacks too. Some people may develop allergies due to over consumption of it. Some risks associated with the consumption of almonds are:-
3.Difficulty in swallowing
5.Shortness in breath
Almonds boost a healthy profile. They provide a range of essential nutrients, are versatile and can be incorporated in the diet in a multitude of ways. Though it has many advantages but people allergic to almonds should avoid them. Almonds are a great source of healthy food and they should be taken in the required amount to stay fab, fit and always fine.