4 Unexpected Health Benefits of Almonds

4 Unexpected Health Benefits of Almonds

A popular snack in many countries, almonds are one of the foods that you simply can not get enough of. Alongside being a tasty treat, the health benefits of almonds are many.

What are the Health Benefits of Almonds?

Simply put, almonds are filled with vitamins, minerals, proteins and fiber. They can be eaten raw or roasted. Almonds are also used in many dishes. They can be found either sliced, flaked, silvered (flour, oil, butter) or as almond milk.

They are a rich source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium and high quality protein. They also contain fatty acids and many bio-active molecules. These bio-active molecules are known to prevent cardiovascular heart diseases. Such molecules are fibers, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals and antioxidants.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference a cup of raw almonds (143 grams) contains:

Water – 6.31 grams Energy – 828 kcal
Protein – 30.24 grams Total lipid (fat) – 71.40 grams
Carbohydrate, by difference – 30.82 grams Fiber, total dietary – 17.9 grams
Sugars, total – 6.01 grams Cholesterol – 0 grams
Calcium, Ca – 385 mg Iron, Fe – 5.31 mg
Magnesium, Mg – 386 mg Phosphorus, P – 688 mg
Potassium, K – 1048 mg Sodium, Na – 1 mg
Zinc, Zn – 4.46 mg Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – 0 mg
Thiamin – 0.293 mg Riboflavin – 1.627 mg
Niacin – 5.174 mg Vitamin B-6 – 0.196 mg
Folate, DFE – 63 µg Vitamin B-12 – 0 µg
Vitamin A, RAE – 0 µg Vitamin A, IU – 3 IU
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – 36.65 mg Vitamin D – 0 IU
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) – 0 µg Caffeine – 0 mg
  1. Reduces the Risk of Heart Diseases and Has Lower LDL-Cholesterol

A series of epidemiological studies, five to be more precise have showcased their findings that attribute almond a serious positive impact on lowering heart diseases. The Nurses Health Study, the Iowa Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Physicians Health Study all concluded that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet would result in a lower heart disease risk.

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Almonds contain high quantities of monosaturated fats, which are considered healthier than saturated fats from meat and dairy products. Similar to olive oil, they have been associated with reduced risk of heart diseases.

The British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that a healthy eating diet that includes almonds would help lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases. This is achieved by reducing blood levels of all LDL fractions, including small dense LDL (the highest risk type for cardiovascular disease). It is important to mention that this healthy dietary intake must also include plant sterols, soy protein and soluble fiber. Plant sterols are also found in almonds while beans, oats and pears contain the highest levels of soluble fiber.

A serious health benefit alongside lowering cholesterol lays in its prevention ability. In other words, due to the antioxidant effects that vitamin E has in almonds, diseases related to the heart are prevented. LDL is a form of cholesterol directly related to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Before we conclude this small chapter, there are two things I care to mention. First of all, almonds are rich in magnesium. Studies have shown that a deficiency in magnesium leads to diseases associated to heart attacks. This is due to the fact that when there is not enough magnesium in the body, veins and arteries have smaller flows of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. And lastly, it contains the Potassium mineral. It promoted better nerve transmission and contraction of all muscles including the heart. Therefore this mineral is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and hearth functions.

  1. Protecting against Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

Lower glycemic index diets have a positive consequence for patients who suffer from diabetes and heart diseases.

As a result, the regular intake of almonds seem to lower the after-meal rises in blood sugar. Their high levels of antioxidants also help clean the left-over amount of free radicals within the body according to Jenkins DJ and Kendall CW in the “Journal of Nutrition”.

Another study showed that the overall glycemix index can be lowered when within meals almonds are found. Furthermore the risk of rising blood sugar levels after meals are also lowered due to this wonder fruit according to Jones AR, Kendall CW in their book “The Alkaline Lifestyle Approach to Healing Diabetes”.

  1. Losing Weight

Yes, you read correctly. Almonds due to their monounsaturated fats can actually help you lose weight. The International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders published a study in which 65 overweight and obese adults lost pounds more effectively. Apparently an almond-enriched low calorie diet proved more useful than a low calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates.

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Alongside losing weight, some of the test subject who had type 1 diabetes benefited even more. Their diabetes medication suffered reductions by even 96%, compared to the 50% of those who were on the complex carbohydrate diet.

  1. Preventing Weight Gaining

Not only almonds help you lose weight, it also helps prevent weight gaining. A study published in the journal Obesity showcased their findings. Basically people who eat almond nuts at least twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat them. This study lasted for 28 months and involved 8.865 adult men and women in Spain.

The authors concluded that a reduced risk of weight gaining (5 kg or more) is exhibited by those who partake in regular dietary intake of almonds.

Almonds are an amazing fruit, initially found in the Middle East and South Asia. They have been attributed many health properties since ancient times, however in the modern world with the help of science we can exactly pinpoint its benefits. For a long time there have been thoughts that almonds can make you fat although recent studies proved quite the opposite. This is just one scientific example, which aids us in discovering the wonderful properties fruits and vegetables around us have.

I hope this article proved helpful in finding out more on what are the health benefits of almonds. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite recipe that includes almonds or if you know more about its health benefits.

Photo Credits: Flickr.com, Pixabay.com, Wikipedia.org.

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Idelina Cepeda

Idelina is an American-Mexican middle school music teacher with a penchant for gardening and growing her own vegetables as much as possible. Idelinadevours short and long reads on topics of health and exercise, but she’s also fond of the occasional cocktail or two.
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