Almonds are actually the seeds of a tree native to the Middle East. It is actually related to the peach tree. These seeds have always been consumed by humans, birds and other animals as a source of food. In ancient times, it was considered a healing food, presumed to add vitality.
At one stage, though, the high calorie content, and it’s composition of fatty acids have led to the belief that regular consumption would lead to weight gain. However, in recent times research has shown that regular consumption of these nuts actually help to lower cholesterol levels.
These nuts naturally occur as a sweet and a bitter variety. In times gone by, the bitter variety was used in medicine, but it was found to be poisonous – and its use was halted. Only the sweet variety is used today.
Almonds Nutritional Benefits
Almond products are gluten-free – and as such almond flour is used regularly in such recipes. It is high in protein and fiber, and low in carbohydrates – making it an ideal food for those on a diet.
Almond milk is used as an alternative to cow’s milk by people suffering from lactose intolerance.
Almond paste has a consistency similar to Marzipan – but it is not as sweet.
These nuts contain plenty of vitamins, proteins, unsaturated fats and even minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and more. They contain Vitamins A, B, C, D, E (a powerful antioxidant) and Vitamin K. It contains enough folic acid to be of value to pregnant women – reducing the risk of birth defects.
They make an ideal in-between snack when the next meal seems too far away.
Almonds Health Benefits
The health benefits of almonds are numerous, and massively outweigh any possible negative impact they might have:
- The high content of unsaturated fatty acids makes it ideal for preventing heart disease – since it helps to lower cholesterol levels.
- The Vitamin E it contains is a powerful antioxidant, which benefits the heart and skin.
- The high fiber content improves movement through the colon, reducing the risk of constipation, and even colon cancer.
- Sufficient levels of magnesium help to keep your arteries free from calcium deposits.
- The potassium it contains is beneficial to the nervous system, and educes the risk of high blood pressure.
- Almonds were regularly applied in traditional Chinese folk remedies – as an anti-inflammatory agent, to alkalize the blood, and even to prepare emollients.
- The calcium and other minerals contained in almonds are beneficial to the brain.
- By helping to regulate the fluctuations in blood sugar levels, it reduces the risk of diabetes.
These nuts are a classified goitrogenic food – meaning that, among other things, they interfere with the processing of iodine in the body if taken in large quantities. This characteristic also implies that people with thyroid problems should limit their intake.
Some mothers would want to consider almond milk as an alternative food for their babies – but it does not contain enough nutritional value to be an adequate replacement.
Lastly, many commercial varieties of almond milk contain large amounts of sugar – so in order to derive maximum benefit, you may want to consider a sugar-free variety.