The 7 Major Health Benefits of Almonds


Almonds contain the most nutrients in comparison to all other nuts.  They are particularly rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help to lower LDL (aka bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (aka good cholesterol). The vast health benefits of almonds allow them to be part of the “Super foods List”.  Just a handful of almonds a day provides much of the recommended levels of minerals, vitamins and protein you need in your healthy food diet.

Benefits of Almonds

The Ancient Romans referred to Almonds as “Greek nuts” since they were first cultivated in Greece and generally in the Mediterranean. Almond trees are mostly found in sunny dry and warm climates. Spanish missionaries are credited for taking the almond to the United States which is now responsible for almost 80% of the worlds almond production. More specifically, California produces over 1 million tons of almonds every year.

The most common health benefits of almonds are:

1.       Crazy About Your Heart – Go Nuts!!! – According to studies, eating a handful of almonds regularly can reduce the risk of a heart attack by at least 50%. Almonds are a good source of folic acid which helps fight fatty plaque that builds up in the arteries. High levels of Vitamin E are also found in almonds, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage and assisting in the formation of red blood cells.

2.       Prevents Constipation – Almonds are rich in fiber which helps for proper bowel movement which in turn aids to clear the intestine. To help with constipation it is wise to drink a lot of water after eating almonds.

3.       Pregnancy Aid – Due to the folic acid mentioned above, almonds help reduces the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies. Folic acid is a B-Vitamin that helps in the growth of cells and ensures the healthy growth of the fetus.    

4.       Regulates Blood Sugar Levels – Almonds contain potassium which helps in regulating blood pressure. Moreover the sodium content in almonds is low; this too is also instrumental in controlling blood pressure. Almonds also have a stabilizing effect on sugar and insulin levels after meals, offering protection from diabetes. They also contain magnesium which is another mineral that helps your body regulate its blood sugar levels.

5.       A Super Alkalizing Food - Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming. When your body is not alkaline enough, you risk having a poor immune system, osteoporosis, low energy and a tendency to gain weight.

6.       Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk – Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which are nutrients that boost brain activity and can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

7.       Aid in Weight Loss - According to the California Almond Board, eating approximately 23 almonds, you will consume 160 calories but you will also intake 6 g of protein and 4 g of fiber, both of which make you feel full. In 2007 a study in Spain revealed that people who ate nuts in general, twice a week, were over 30% less likely to gain weight than those who never or almost never eat nuts.


The Disadvantages of Eating Almonds

Just like any other food, even almonds have their disadvantages.  They contain oxalates which can cause crystallization, so people that have kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating almonds. All foods, including “superfoods” provide a healthy diet if you consume them with moderation in a well-balanced diet.

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Great Almond Recipes

Almond & Cranberry Coconut Bread 

Ingredients:

2 cups flaked coconut

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) vanilla yogurt

1 teaspoon almond extract

4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut

1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

1. Place coconut and almonds in an un-greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Cool.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Beat in yogurt and extract until blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

5. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with cream of coconut, beating well after each addition. Fold in the cranberries, coconut and almonds.

6. Transfer to two greased and floured 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans.

7. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Serves: 30 slices

Approx.Calories: 280 per slice


Almond & Mandarin Orange Salad 

Ingredients:

1 package (5 ounces) spring mix salad greens

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained

6 green onions, sliced

3/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

VINAIGRETTE:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients

3. Pour over salad and toss to coat. 

Serves: 6

Approx.Calories: 200 per serving