Almonds: Nature’s Tasty Vitamin-Packed Nutrient Tablet
You might think that almonds are nuts, but this isn’t true. Technically, nuts are actually both the fruit and the seed of certain trees, and they are encased in a pod that forms a hard outer shell. If there’s no pod, it’s not a nut. Almonds are actually seeds from almond trees and they are packed to the brim with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Even though the origin of almond trees comes from the Middle East, America is currently the number 1 producer of all almonds in the world. These seeds are usually available in two forms: roasted and raw. In most cases, the shell of the almond is already removed when you purchase them. If you ever purchased almonds in the past, you probably already know that if the packaging states that the almonds are natural it usually means they are raw.
The amount of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins in almonds is truly outstanding. Just 1 ounce can provide about 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of manganese and vitamin E, and about 1/5 of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. That same ounce also provides roughly 160 calories, which come from about 6 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of fat.
It might seem that the 14 grams of fat in 1 ounce is a large amount, but the truth is that some of this fat actually doesn’t get digested by our body and instead it just passes through. This is because these fats are too complicated to be broken down and accessed by our system.
Besides the above-listed minerals, almonds also contain iron, calcium, and zinc. The problem is that almond shells contain phytic acid in them and this acid strongly binds to these minerals, which inhibits our ability to absorb them.
There are many benefits to almond consumption. Some are clear as day and others might be less obvious. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
Almonds Protect Your Heart And Regulate Your Blood Sugar
It should come as no surprise that almonds are actually the ideal food for those suffering from diabetes. They have very low carb content, high amounts of protein and fiber, and a reasonable amount of healthy fats. All of these properties combine into an excellent way to regulate blood sugar levels.
Another absolutely vital mineral which is found in high amounts in almonds is magnesium. It plays a huge role in many different physical functions and 1 of them happens to be blood sugar level regulation. This is huge because according to some studies nearly 38 percent of all people who have type 2 diabetes are actually deficient in magnesium. Eating almonds can help correct this issue, which results in a positive effect on your overall insulin function. Helping your insulin work correctly results in better blood sugar level management.
Furthermore, insulin resistance can also be reduced by adding magnesium to your diet. This means that consuming almonds frequently can successfully not only help you deal with type 2 diabetes but it can also act as a preventative measure for developing diabetes in the first place, as well as many other metabolic syndromes.
High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is another condition that can be influenced in a positive way by magnesium. There is a lot of research showing that there is a clear link between hypertension and low magnesium levels. And even though there are speculations that this occurs mostly in people who suffer from obesity, studies show that this can happen amongst people within any weight range.
Reducing blood pressure is easy with the help of magnesium, and since almonds are a great source, adding them to your diet should introduce more than enough of this mineral to rectify hypertension.
You can also improve your heart health with the help of almonds. The foods we eat have a huge impact on our cholesterol, which in turn has a huge impact on our overall heart health. Eating a cup or 2 of almonds a day will greatly lower LDL cholesterol, known as the bad type of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol plays a huge role in your risks of developing heart conditions.
A study which was done throughout a 4-month period concluded that amongst 65 subjects who were diagnosed to be pre-diabetic, all managed to reduce their LDL cholesterol levels by an astounding 12 mg/dL. This was done by consuming 20 percent of their total calories intake through almonds.
Another study was done to determine the differences in LDL cholesterol levels between participants who ate about 1.5 ounces of almonds daily and those who observed a regular diet without almonds. The results showed that levels of LDL dropped by about 5 mg/dL while levels of HDL, this is the good type of cholesterol, remained roughly the same. Additionally, the group of people who increased their almond intake ended up losing some of their belly fat.
There are other reasons why you should try eating extra almonds. It offers other LDL cholesterol-related benefits. Studies on lab animals and within test tubes have shown that LDL actually oxidizes at much lower levels when antioxidants are present in the system, specifically the ones derived from almonds. This means you can improve your heart health even further since a high level of LDL oxidation is yet another factor for heart disease. This was backed up by a study which was done throughout a single month where subjects snacked on almonds and successfully reduced oxidation of HDL cholesterol by 14 percent.
Almonds Have Lots Of Antioxidants In Them
We know that antioxidants can affect many functions in a positive way, but their core benefit is that they can help neutralize the free radicals present in our system that can cause oxidative damage. Reducing oxidative damage means that we can successfully decrease the risk of developing many chronic diseases as well as reduce our age-associated problems and conditions.
These antioxidants are generally located in the outer layer of the almond, the brownish looking skin layer. This means that blanched almonds don’t carry nearly as many antioxidants as the roasted and raw ones do.
Oxidative stress is very high in smokers. A study was done to see how much oxidative stress can be reduced in smokers by introducing 3 ounces of almonds daily into their diet. Among the 60 participants, the average reduction in stress markers was observed at 23 percent to 34 percent. Another study showed similar results by introducing almond consumption to the diet of participants during main meals. This reduced certain specific markers of oxidative stress.
Besides the antioxidants in almonds, you can also benefit from the high amount of vitamin E. This vitamin can greatly improve your cell membranes’ ability to reduce oxidative damage. Vitamin E is actually a collection of fat-soluble antioxidants which usually collect in the cell membranes, and they have been linked to being able to lower the rates of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Almonds Can Help You Lose Weight
The same properties of almonds that are responsible for delivering benefits for your heart, blood sugar regulation, and other body functions and organs are also responsible for making weight loss much easier.
As we mentioned earlier, almonds have very few carbs and plenty of both fiber and protein. This makes them the ideal food to ensure you are feeling full for a longer amount of time while taking it easy on the number of calories that come from sometimes harmful carbs.
These high satiation levels were confirmed by a study which showed that even though the number of calories consumed throughout the day was lower while eating almonds, the levels of satiation still stayed high among all of the participants. Another study that lasted a whole month which was done with 100 participants concluded that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds per day reduced the participants’ desire to eat throughout the day and kept them feeling less hungry during the day.
There were many other studies which showed that tree nuts, including almonds even though they are seeds, are capable of suppressing appetite.
The fat found in almonds isn’t absorbed by our body, which leads to other metabolic enhancing effects that almonds can deliver. In some cases, this metabolic boosting effect can deliver huge positive results for people seeking to lose weight.
For example, a study showed that among participants who observed a low-calorie diet, those who used almonds as the preferred snack choice versus other rich in complex carbs foods were able to lose roughly 62 percent more weight. Another study supported these findings which were found among 100 overweight women who added nuts to their diet. It seems that nuts are able to contribute greatly to weight loss as well as reduce the total circumference of one’s waist, which happens to be a very important health marker.
Almond Warnings To Observe
Even though most people should not have any major issues with almonds, there are some people who can be allergic to almonds. If this allergy is severe the reaction to almonds could be life-threatening. Ensure you don’t have almond allergies before partaking in their consumption.
Unfortunately, even though they carry a plethora of fantastic nutrients and minerals, almonds also have a pretty high content of oxalate in them. This can lead to the development of kidney stones. If you have previously had problems with kidney stones, we strongly recommend reducing the number of almonds you consume.
Another ingredient found in almonds in phytic acid, which we mentioned earlier. This acid can limit your ability to absorb nutrients, not just the ones found in almonds but all nutrients during consumption. Luckily, this limiting effect is time sensitive, which means that it should only affect you when you eat almonds. As long as you eat them between meals and avoid eating them with every meal, you should be fine.
In some situations, those who have a tendency for binge eating usually have a difficult time controlling the number of nuts and seeds they consume. If you suspect you have a trouble with this type of behavior, please be careful with almonds.
Final Thoughts On Almonds
Almonds are amazing. They can greatly improve your overall health and even improve certain specific functions in your body which you might have problems with. Overall consumption of almonds, as long as it’s observed in moderation, should introduce many benefits for your health.
Losing weight is easier when almonds are added to your diet. This is greatly due to their ability to help you improve your blood sugar levels and further improve your metabolic processes.
It’s imperative to recognize if there are complications related to almonds that you might be experiencing since almond allergy can be life-threatening. Almonds shouldn’t be eaten with every meal, and the best way to get the benefits from almonds is by using them as a snack. Anywhere between 1 to 2 ounces per day should be more than enough to take advantage of everything this seed has to offer.
While raw almonds usually contain more nutrients and vitamins, roasted almonds are still pretty packed with nutrients. Blanched almonds have a lot fewer antioxidants in them, so always go with the natural labeled stuff.
You certainly don’t have to consult with your doctor every time you try out a new food, but if there is any chance that you have an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts, the likelihood of you being allergic to almonds is much higher. If this is the case, you should be sure to get an allergy test before trying anything new. If you are not sure what you are allergic to or if you are allergic to anything at all, remember that it is wise to get allergy tests periodically to ensure that you do not have any allergies that you are not aware of.
All of the benefits of almonds are clear and in most cases are supported by various studies and research. So what are you waiting for? Grab a bag at your favorite store and change your diet today, you won’t regret it.