A seemingly simple brown drupe, an almond, has rightfully earned its place in the nutritional world as a superfood. A powerhouse source of minerals and antioxidants, the almond is often assumed to be a nut but is actually a seed from a fruit called drupe, primarily grown in the Mediterranean region. Almond health benefits and its versatility make preparing simple recipes easy and nutritious.
It is no secret that almonds’ goodness is harnessed in many ways, be it food or hair and skin care products. Did you know that although almonds are high in calories, their consumption does not lead to weight gain? Hence, this tear-drop-shaped drupe also serves as preferred diet food. Want to know how and why a handful of almonds dominate all plates — big or small, salad or dessert across the globe? Read on as we unlock the health benefits of almonds.
The almond story: How did we start eating this drupe?
The cultivation of almonds can be traced back to 3,000 BC, but it has been referred to in Greek mythology as early as 1,400 BC. An almond tree, which grew in the wild, has found a place of honour even in the Bible as a very popular and honourable thing to gift.
Besides consuming and gifting almonds, the drupe has found relevance in the world of art, too. Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, back in 1890, painted his famous almond series after being inspired by the almond blossoms in Arlès and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in Southern France.
Evidence of domestic almond cultivation has been unearthed in Jordan. Archaeologists estimate it to be approximately 5,000 years old, which is a clear indication that our good health is intertwined with its cultural and historic influence.
Say yes to a great body and mind with a handful of almonds
Almonds are rich in fibre, protein, fat, vitamin E and B12, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Therefore, consuming almonds has a variety of health benefits, ranging from improving heart health to anti-ageing.
A 2015 report from NIH states that almonds helps to increase vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells, which can prevent heart arteries from clogging.
Almonds have unsaturated fats that can maintain and improve cholesterol levels. Thus, they help decrease the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the body and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), according to a 2018 report from NIH.
Almonds help fight breast cancer
According to research, almonds have various anti-carcinogenic properties. Among many known and unknown factors that seem to be responsible for the development of cancer in the human body, an individual’s diet plays an important role.
Reverse ageing naturally with almonds
Almonds are fortified with vitamin A, and E, as well as zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential to protect the skin barrier, regenerate new cells and shield the skin from sun damage. Apart from directly consuming almonds, its oil is used widely for treating facial scars, acne and dry skin. It also adds glow to your complexion.
Almonds help maintain weight
One of the most amazing properties of this wonder drupe is that even though it is calorie rich, it is low in carbohydrates and high in protein, fibre and minerals. This is probably a dream come true for someone trying to get to their optimum weight without compromising on nutrition. Include almonds in breakfast or maybe just as a snack in between meals to give you a much-needed energy boost. They also help you keep off junk food.
Keeps blood pressure in check
Another almond health benefit is that it can help prevent heart attacks and kidney failures. Simply include some of these brown drupes in your diet as the magnesium in them could potentially keep your blood pressure at an optimum level, a Healthline report states.
Get stronger bones with almonds
Micronutrients play a critical role in ensuring overall health, including strengthening bones. An NIH report recommends including almonds in a regular diet to control osteoporosis as it is rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and fibre.
Some lip-smacking, guilt-free almond recipes for your healthy soul
Sprinkle some toasted almonds on a salad, blend it into a smoothie, add some almond milk goodness to your daily cup of coffee or sliver them for your dessert, here are some scrumptious recipes you can try to get the most nutrition out of this superfood.
Go get your healthy dose of almonds but hold back if…
In conclusion, almonds are packed with rich nutrients and are widely recognised as a must-have superfood. However, people with conditions like nut allergies should avoid these drupes at all costs, as it may result in swelling, choking or breaking out of hives. Thus, it is best to consult a physician before consuming almonds, also if you have any kind of underlying health concerns.
Leaving these exceptions aside, having almonds daily is more than recommended for a great mind, body and soul.
(Main and featured Image Courtesy: Dhanya Purohit/Unsplash)