Almond Health Benefits Explained: Almond Joy!
Although we think of it as a nut; like the peanut, the almond is not technically a nut, but a drupe – a hard shell which is covered with an outer coating called a hull, and which houses one or occasionally two seeds.
These seeds are the delicious almonds that we enjoy eating inside cakes, salad, biscuits, and all kinds of foods.
Almonds are related to peaches, cherries and apricots, all of which are drupes. They are said to have originated in the Middle East and are even referenced to in the Bible.
There are actually two kinds of almonds, although you’ve most likely only eaten the first: sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Bitter almonds are commonly used in products like shampoo, soaps and other cosmetics products due to their strong almond scent.
In the US, the purchase of unprocessed bitter almonds is illegal. This is because of prussic acid, which is found in raw, unprocessed bitter almonds, is strong enough to kill a human or animal. However, once bitter almonds have been processed, the traces of prussic acid are removed. The almonds are then safe for consumption.
Bitter almonds are generally used for almond extracts and almond butter (after they have been processed), whereas sweet almonds are eaten on their own, raw or cooked, and in a variety of dishes.
For people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy or vegan, almond milk is a particularly delicious alternative to cow’s milk. It’s the most popular plant milk in the US, outstripping soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk.
Unsweetened almond milk is made by toasting and blending almonds, adding water; or, alternatively, by adding water to almond butter. Most commercial brands do add sweetener, but it’s still a healthy option, though not quite as healthy as the unsweetened versions.
It’s important to note that almond milk does not contain as much protein as cow’s milk. If you are substituting it for dairy, be sure to include enough alternative sources of protein in your diet.
Almond milk can be used in place of cow’s milk. For almost every food or dish, its described as having a “nutty” taste (not surprisingly). It’s naturally enriched with Vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from free radical damage.
There are many commercial versions readily available. It’s very easy to make at home and can be cost-effective and practical.
What Is Almond Oil? Almond Oil Explained
If you haven’t read our post about the health benefits of almond oil, you should. This amazing product has so many benefits that it’s worthwhile getting to know them. Getting to know how they can help in all aspects of your overall health and appearance.
Almond oil can be obtained from both sweet and bitter almonds, although if you’re planning on consuming it, it would have to be from sweet almonds (assuming you do not have a death wish).
Almond oil has many health benefits. Among them are:
- It lowers your cholesterol levels,
- Reduces the risk of heart disease (due to its anti-inflammatory properties),
- Treats earaches (because it softens the earwax and removes blockages in the ear), and
- Protects against diabetes (helps regulate blood sugar levels).
In addition, it also does wonders for your skin and hair, as it nourishes and strengthens due to its high content of Vitamin E.
Nutrient Content Of Almonds Breakdown
A healthy serving of almonds is about 23 almonds daily, or 1 ounce (this refers to shelled almonds). A serving of 23 almonds includes approximately:
- 6 grams protein
- 3.5 – 4 grams fiber
- 35 – 37% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E
- 14 grams of fat, most of which is healthy for your body (monounsaturated fat)
- 76 grams magnesium or nearly 20% RDA
- 75 – 80 mg of calcium, or 8% RDA
- 200 mg of potassium, or 5 % RDA
- 0.3 mg of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), or 20% RDA
Besides all this, almonds are also a delicious source of zinc, carbohydrates, niacin (Vitamin B3), manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, iron, and zero cholesterol or salt – plus, a one-ounce serving is only around 160 calories.
I don’t think I have to convince you much further that you should be including 23 almonds into your daily diet. They not only taste delicious and feel as though you are eating a snack, but they are doing wonders for you and helping your body to receive the nutrients it needs to function well.
Almonds Can Help With Weight Loss: Here’s How
Aside from all the additional health benefits, we have already mentioned, almonds can also help with weight loss in other ways you might not expect. Many people think of nuts as big no-nos when they are dieting, because of their high content of fat.
The fat in almonds are actually good for your body, unlike fat in unhealthy foods. Due to their high fiber content, almonds make for a great snack. The fibre and protein in almonds keep you full, so you don’t feel the need to keep snacking on unhealthy foods that could be detrimental to your health and weight.
In addition, the monounsaturated fats in almonds, aside from being heart healthy, also lower your BMI (body mass index), which means that they can cause your weight to go down.
If two people are on the same diet and eat the same foods, but one eats almonds and the other doesn’t, the one who eats almonds is likely to lose more weight.
Though it sounds contradictory (how can eating extra food help you lose weight?), the nutrients in almonds help your digestive system along. I’ve often noticed that when I eat foods that are good for my metabolism as well as my regular diet, I lose more weight than when I eat the same diet, but without the extra nutritional foods.
This is because foods that are good for your metabolism help your body digest the other food you have eaten, resulting in weight loss. While it hasn’t been proven that almonds can speed up your metabolism, in studies done where some participants included almonds in their diet and others didn’t guess which group was more successful at losing weight? Yup, the group who had eaten almonds!
So if you are trying to lose weight, don’t be afraid of the fat in almonds packing on those pounds – if you keep it in moderation, it’s likely to have the opposite effect.
Almonds For Cholesterol Explained
If you’re looking for foods to lower your cholesterol, it’s definitely worth trying out almonds. In a study done where two groups ate an identical diet – with one exception – the results were surprising.
The only difference between the two diets was that one group ate a banana muffin as a snack, while the other group ate a handful of almonds. The group who had eaten almonds not only had lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol but also had slightly elevated levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
It’s not 100% known what it is about almonds that produce these effects, but it is believed to be as a result of the nutrients packed in these little seeds such as Vitamin E and monosaturated fats.
Almonds For Skin Health Explained
Rich in Vitamin E, Almonds also have copper in them, eating them as part of a regular diet could help reduce fine lines, wrinkles and keep your skin looking youthful.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning that it helps protect your skin against damage caused by free radicals which result in aging symptoms such as sagging skin and wrinkles.
Copper and Vitamin E also boost collagen and elastin production in your skin, which contributes to younger, plumper skin. Using almond oil on your skin can keep it nourished and give you a healthy, radiant glow. And bonus – the Vitamin E can also somewhat help protect your skin from the sun’s strong UV rays (but it’s not a substitute for sunblock!).
Biotin (Vitamin B-) is essential in order to keep your skin soft and not dry/ flaky – and yes, almonds contain a large dose of biotin. Using a face mask of almond powder, egg white and lemon juice can remove dead skin and keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
Applying almond oil to your skin can also help against skin imperfections such as acne, blackheads and whiteheads, as well as lighten acne scars, due to its monosaturated fats. Just a few drops each day can really improve the appearance of your skin, leaving it fresh and not oily.
It’s also used to disinfect small wounds and lessen inflammation.
Massaging almond oil underneath your eyes is a great way to remove dark circles and puffy eyes that are making you look like a racoon. Keep the oil on overnight and rinse off in the morning to see the best results.
Finally, almond oil can be used to treat stretch marks. Heat almond oil slightly and massage into the affected area twice daily. You will notice that the stretch marks can reduce significantly after a few weeks of religious treatment.
As you can see, there are a wide array of benefits that almonds, or more specifically, almond oil, can offer for your skin. Even if you haven’t got damaged skin, pimples, too-oily or too-dry skin (lucky you!), everyone has to take care of their skin and moisturize in order to keep it looking and feeling its best.
Why not give Almond oil a try as a moisturizer? It’s natural, good for your skin, and at the very least, can’t do any harm – so it’s worth a shot!
— Snacking Essentials (@snackessentials) November 7, 2017
Are There Potential Side Effects To Overeating Almonds?
Like everything, you don’t want to take eating almonds too far. While it’s okay to eat an ounce or a little more a day, eating a large number of almonds daily or very often could result in:
- Unhealthy weight gain – due to their high-fat content.
- Kidney stones, since almonds contain oxalate, which, when combined with calcium, can cause a kidney stone, particularly in those who have a background of kidney stones.
- Too much manganese – while your body does need manganese for your metabolism, nerve function, blood sugar, and calcium absorption, if you are already taking medication to increase manganese levels in your body, you don’t want to be eating too many almonds, as this could cause nerve damage. It can also interfere with the function of medication, such as blood pressure medication. So it’s important to keep your almond consumption under control.
- Too much fibre – we said before that almonds are excellent sources of fibre, but too much fibre can also cause gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, cramping and constipation.
- Vitamin E Overdose – again, this is ‘too much of a good thing’; while Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant, if you already have a high-Vitamin E diet, be careful not to overdo it with almonds. Too much Vitamin E can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as blurred vision, headaches and diarrhoea.
- Possible allergic reaction – if you are allergic to almonds, you may experience the following symptoms: abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cramps, nasal congestion/ runny nose, difficulty swallowing, nausea and vomiting, and/or itchy mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other area.
Obviously, eating a lot of almonds that are salted is detrimental to your blood pressure and health.
It’s important to note that most of these symptoms, can be caused consuming excessive amounts of almonds, or an almond allergy. If you’re sticking to a healthy, recommended dose of almonds, and are not allergic to them, you shouldn’t experience these side effects and should only be benefitting from almonds.
All things considered, there really is no reason to not be including almonds into your diet. You only need a single ounce a day to reap their amazing benefits for all areas of your health – and they’re so delicious and easy to eat! You can take care of yourself in a lot of ways – try fire safety for example! – and almonds are a great place to start.
Next time you reach for a snack between meals, skip over the cookie; it’ll only fill you up for a couple of minutes and leave you craving more sugar. Instead, try a handful of almonds – and see if that can’t tide you over ‘til your next meal.
You’ll be doing your skin and health wonders while enjoying yourself and satisfying your hunger at the same time!