Almonds are considered a superfood these days and their health benefits have been confirmed in a huge number of studies. Consuming superfoods on a daily basis is the key to a longer and healthier life. Today I’m going to help you discover the secrets, fun facts and the amazing health benefits of almonds. Read on!
The Long History of Almonds
Originally from the southwest and central Asia, almonds were used by almost all ancient civilizations. It was a staple food that helped nomadic tribes to survive the long journeys. Almonds are among the few foods that have maintained their social, ethnic and religious significance throughout history. The ancient Hebrew literature from 2,000 B.C. contains the information about almonds, and it’s said that by 4,000 B.C. humans already knew how to grow almond trees and use almonds in cooking.
The early references from the Baltic peninsula, Turkey, and Romania also mention almonds. There are a few Bible verses about almonds too, such as, “The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree” mentioned in Jeremiah 1:11, or another well-known part of verse, “Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and plane and almond trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods” taken from Genesis 30:37 proves almonds have been a symbol of hope and an object of value for centuries.
The Nutrition Facts of Almonds
Organic almonds are among the healthiest foods in the world that provide an endless list of miraculous health benefits. They’re overflowing with protein, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, unsaturated fats, fiber, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, copper, molybdenum, and potent antioxidants.
100 grams of raw almonds contain:
- 576 calories
- 31 grams of monounsaturated fat
- 12 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 7 grams of saturated fat
- 32 grams of omega 6
- 211 mg of tryptophan
- 1473 mg of leucine
- 6206 mg of glutamic acid
- 2465 mg of arginine
- 1 mg of sodium
- 705 mg of potassium (20% of recommended daily value (RDV)
- 12 grams of dietary fiber (48% of RDV)
- 03 mg of copper (115% of RDV)
- 9 grams of sugar
- 21 grams of protein (42% of RDV)
- 63 mg of vitamin E (171% of RDV)
- 67% of recommended daily intake of magnesium
- 26% of recommended daily intake of calcium
- 20% of recommended daily intake of iron
- 5% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B6
- 88%of recommended daily intake of vitamin B2
- 17% of recommended daily intake of vitamin B1
- 7% of recommended daily intake of selenium
11 Fun Facts about Almonds
There are many interesting facts about almonds, but the following eleven are going to astonish you:
- Due to high vitamin E content, almonds have an incredibly long storage life. You can refrigerate them for more than 2 years.
- Almonds are 100% reliant on honey and wild bees.
- 90 percent of fat found in almonds is unsaturated, which means you can munch on them without worrying about your waistline.
- Almond flour is gluten free.
- In order to make a 1 pint of organic almond oil, you will need 1000 pounds of almonds.
- Although almonds are considered as nuts, they’re actually seeds of fruits that grow on almond trees.
- The outer almond hulls are used as a cattle feed around the world.
- With about 30 varieties of almonds, people consume only 10 of them.
- Almonds slow absorption of carbs and sugar.
- Green almonds can be pickled and preserved.
- Almond growers spend a fortune on renting bees for pollination.
Almond Milk vs. Regular Milk
Almond milk and regular milk are both chock-full of nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and B vitamins. However, unlike regular milk, almond milk is totally lactose-free, making it a great choice for lactose intolerant people. The best option is to make your own almond milk. Since I’m lactose intolerant and I don’t like soy milk, I often make my own almond milk and here’s how:
- 4 cups plain water, filtered
- 1 cup raw organic almonds, whole
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- 1/2-1 teaspoon raw honey, optional
Add a cup of boiling hot water to a medium bowl, put your almonds into it, and let it stand for 30-35 minutes. Place your almonds in a blender, add 3 cups of cold water, and if you want to make it sweetened, you can add vanilla extract or honey to it. Blend until frothy and pour your raw milk through a tiny sieve. Enjoy homemade almond milk and use the mixture left in the sieve instead of regular flour in your cookies or pancakes. A win-win solution!
Almonds vs. Peanuts vs. Walnuts
Nuts are all good for us, but some of them have many drawbacks. For example, peanuts are more allergenic and toxic than almonds or walnuts. Moreover, unlike almonds, peanuts are bad for people suffering from acid reflux. Walnuts and almonds are a great snack combination that will help reduce cholesterol, though if you are not allergic to peanuts, you can eat them all together, but in moderation.
12 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Almonds
Maintain heart health
The American Heart Association recognizes almonds as a heart-healthy food. Almonds are high in antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fat that maintains heart health and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, almonds contain vitamin E and flavonoids that fight inflammation and improve artery health, which is highly important for our heart health.
Fight infection and aid in wound healing
Almonds are relatively rich in amino acid arginine that has been shown to help treat infections and promote wound healing. Sure, they can’t replace prescribed medications, but incorporating a handful of almonds throughout the treatment period may significantly speed up your healing process.
Combat metabolic syndrome
According to a study conducted by the City of Hope National Medical Center in California, almonds play a crucial role in lowering BMI, reducing fat mass, controlling systolic blood pressure, reducing waist circumference, and preventing obesity. The researchers found that consuming almonds help to improve these metabolic syndrome markers, a group of abnormalities that ruin health and increase the risk of diabetes.
Improve skin health
Apart from being an excellent source of vitamin E, almonds contain a great amount of flavonol, epicatechin and catechin antioxidants, along with isorhamnetin, kaempferol, and quercetin, which all have been scientifically proven to ward off skin cancer and fight oxidative stress caused by UV light exposure, poor diet, and air pollution.
Almonds are good for people with type 2 diabetes
Almonds are fortified with magnesium, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and are low in carbs. Magnesium has been shown to control insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Another study found that tree nuts, such as almonds, may reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Moreover, a research conducted by Taipei Medical University showed that eating almonds may fight oxidative stress and inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Improve your gut bacteria
Almond skins are loaded with fiber and a number of other components that provide powerful prebiotic properties. Consuming almonds regularly can improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and speed up your metabolism. Add some almonds to your plain yogurt to get the best out of the two healthy foods.
Boost your brain function
When it comes to brain health, nuts are a must, whether you eat walnuts, peanuts or Brazilian nuts. However, almonds contain L-carnitine and riboflavin – the key nutrients your brain needs to function at its best. Almonds can also help to prevent cognitive decline, inflammation, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other brain disorders.
Lower blood pressure
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure, among the other health issues. It’s crucially important to monitor your blood pressure level to avoid its side effects, including kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. Almonds are chock-full of magnesium, which means snacking on almonds every now and then can help you keep your blood pressure at bay.
Increase your antioxidant intake
A research done by Institute de Fermentaciones Industriales in Spain found that almond skins are packed with powerful antioxidants, which are vital for your overall health. According to the study, roasting is one of the healthiest ways to cook almonds in order to get almond skin extracts with the most potent antioxidant capacity. Not only do antioxidants help to improve your health, they also slow the aging process and keep cancer away.
Feel full on fewer calories
Whether you are trying to shed pounds or keep your weight under control, including almonds in your meals and snacks will help you satiate your hunger with fewer calories. Almonds are rich in fiber and protein that help to control hunger and aid in weight loss. Almonds provide your body with essential energy and nutrients, thus helping you to avoid overeating.
Get rid of dark circles under the eyes
One of the most common beauty issues is having to deal with dark circles under our eyes. If you can relate to this, consider investing in almond oil. Massage the area under your eyes with a tiny bit of almond oil each day for 2 weeks to reduce the depth and size of the dark circles. Don’t go too far, though. Remember to massage gently and it’s better to do it before bedtime.
Prevent inflammation all-around the body
Almonds contain powerful anti-inflammatory fatty acids, including linoleic and linolenic acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation all-around the body, promoting skin and hair health and warding off tons of serious diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.
How Many Almonds Should You Eat in a Day?
When it comes to nut consumption, moderation is key. Since nuts are calorie-dense, dieters who want to lose weight should eat at least 10 almonds a day. If your food goal is to improve your overall health, aim to consume 17-23 almonds a day. You don’t necessarily have to eat raw or whole almonds. Read on to find out the ways to incorporate them into your diet plan.
The Possible Side Effects of Eating Too Many Almonds
If you consume a high amount of almonds, you may experience several side effects, including weight gain, vitamin E overdose, gastrointestinal problems, and certain medicine interactions. Consuming too much vitamin E can lead to lethargy, headaches, blurred vision, flatulence, and diarrhea. Consuming too much fiber can cause abdominal bloating and constipation. Too much manganese in the body can interfere with certain antibiotics, some antipsychotic drugs, antacids, blood pressure medications, and laxatives. Almonds contain all these nutrients, so keep the balance in mind when including them into your weekly meal plan.
Moreover, people who suffer from kidney stones should limit their almond consumption, as almonds are a source of oxalates that can increase the risk of formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones.
15 Ways to Incorporate Almonds into Your Diet
If you’ve not been eating almonds often, it may be hard to come up with enough ways to enjoy this nut regularly. Here are some delicious ideas that we think you might like:
- Top your yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, fruit salad or vegetable salad with crushed almonds
- Make your own almond butter and have it on toast in the morning
- Use it in cakes, muffins, pies, cookies, brownies and cupcakes
- Add chopped roasted almonds to a strawberry spinach salad
- Drink almond milk instead of regular milk at least 2 times a week, or use it in your coffee, tea, and cocoa
- Add some chopped almonds to your morning omelet
- Snack on raw or roasted almonds
- Use almond flour in your pancakes, cookies, and other baked goods
- Bake almond nut bread
- Add some crushed almonds to your smoothies
- Use almonds in quinoa and rice dishes
- Top your favorite pizza with chopped almonds
- Make your own almond granola bars
- Use almonds in sautéed veggies
- Use them in sauces
2 Fabulously Delicious Almond Recipes
Super Easy Almond Flour Pancakes
These pancakes are a healthy substitute for all-purpose flour pancakes, which are full of carbs. Top your almond flour pancakes with some berries or raw honey for a tastier breakfast.
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon olive or almond oil
In a large bowl, whisk water, almond flour, eggs, salt and maple syrup together until you get a smooth batter.
Place the skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil and use a large spoon to drop batter onto the skillet. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbles form and pop, and the edges are dry. Flip and cook another side for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned.
Homemade Almond Butter
If you or your kids don’t like the taste of peanut butter, consider making your own healthy almond butter that you can spread on your morning toast. It’s quick and easy to prepare (no special cooking skills required!)
- 2 cups unsalted almonds
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- dash of organic vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread raw almonds across a baking sheet, place in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes. Place them into a food processor, and process, scraping the sides down, on low for 20 minutes, until the butter forms. Add in salt, honey, and vanilla, and keep processing for a minute. Your homemade almond butter is ready!
Now that you’ve discovered some of the best health benefits of almonds, are you going to add it into your meal plan? Let us know in the comment section below!