This is a really interesting article written by our friend Jess (his blog JenReviews). Almonds have an amazing profile of antioxidant and nutritional benefits, making them a great candidate for fighting disease. They can improve brain function, hinder the onset of cancer, and much, much more.
1. Almonds can benefit your intestinal health
Regular consumption of almonds can benefit the production of helpful bacteria in the intestines. Stool samples were collected from study groups after consuming almonds regularly for a period of time. There were notable increases in Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp.
These changes were noted with daily doses of as low as 56 grams of almonds – or ten grams of almond skins. The bacteria in question are responsible for a number of health factors. Promoting their growth can help prevent dangerous intestinal diseases, and promote the development of healthy tissues and metabolism.
2. Almonds can lower LDL cholesterol, limiting heart disease
Despite having a relatively high fat content, almonds are known to eliminate cholesterol from the body. The fat content of almonds is largely monounsaturated – the ‘good’ type of fat that helps lower the risk of heart disease. When substituting almonds in a high-carb diet, researchers found that the risk of heart disease was decreased by up to 30 percent. The benefits stack when almonds are included with other healthy foods, as well. If they’re included in a diet plan that includes foods from all groups, the decrease in cholesterol and heart disease can be increased.
Almonds are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that’s responsible for opening up veins and arteries, allowing for more efficient blood flow. This helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol and further reduces the risk of coronary disease.
Magnesium – another mineral that almonds are full of – is also responsible for maintaining a proper blood flow. The content of these two minerals, along with almonds having a high antioxidant content, ensures that they can effectively fight off cholesterol and heart disease. They’re also useful in fighting off recurring or chronic diseases.
3. Almonds are powerful fighters against diabetes
Almonds are shown to decrease spikes in blood sugar. Blood sugar spikes are linked to damaging cholesterol, which leads to the creation of free radicals. A free radical is an atom missing an electron in its outer shell. To compensate, it will steal an electron from its neighbour atom, creating another free radical. This creates a destructive chain that can result in cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
A study done on fifteen participants involved feeding them five meals and monitoring blood sugar before and after. The statistics taken after the meals containing almonds showed a moderate blood pressure and an increase in antioxidants. The statistics taken after subjects consumed meals with bread (high in carbohydrates) showed a decrease in antioxidant density.
4. Almonds can help keep your skin young and healthy
Almonds contain a range of antioxidants and nutrients that can be useful in combating aging skin. These benefits are most obvious when almonds are extracted and used as an oil.
Of particular note, almonds are very high in vitamin E. There are other skin-benefiting antioxidants in almonds, but vitamin E is very good for the skin. It fights of free radicals that can affect that dermis, leading to cancer or prematurely aging skin. Vitamin e also acts as an anti-inflammatory which can prevent inflammation-related skin issues.
5. Almonds help regulate blood sugar in healthy individuals
Studies have shown that almonds are amazing at maintaining a healthy glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure that can show a person’s blood sugar level. During a study in which subjects were given white bread (filled with empty carbohydrates – high on the glycemic index)
The effects seem to start with consumption of two or more ounces of almonds. Eating one ounce of almonds along with the bread showed no decrease in the glycemic index. However, eating two or more showed decreases in the G.I. directly proportional to the amount of almonds consumed.
6. Almonds are a great cognitive supporter
Almonds are one of the best brain foods you can buy! They contain both L-Carnitine and riboflavin – two nutrients that are very important in maintaining brain health. These help reduce inflammation that can lead to brain disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Almonds stimulate the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for helping your neurons ‘fire,’ or communicate, effectively. A deficiency in acetylcholine can lead to things like ‘brain fog,’ in which thinking becomes unclear or confused. It can also lead to headaches and eventually, cognitive decline that can turn into disease.
Acetylcholine is also hugely responsible for an individual’s memory. When studied after consuming almonds for an extended periods, rats were shown to have greater memory recall. When neurons fire faster, it’s easier for them to create or recall ideas and memories – leading to better memory retention.
7. Almonds can help you lose weight!
Research suggests that overweight folk who supplement their diets with almonds will lose weight more effectively. With a low-calorie diet, the almond’s intense array of nutrients and monounsaturated fats help a person shed unnecessary weight.
The study group found that people using almonds in their weight loss program consumed more fat, but 25% of that fat was monounsaturated. This is the fat that helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol. The other group, eating a carbohydrate rich diet, consumed less fat – but only 5% of it was monounsaturated.
Both diets had the same amount of calories. After the study period was over, the group that had consumed almonds instead of carbs showed significantly more weight loss than the other group. Their blood pressure was also reduced, whereas the control group saw no difference in blood pressure.
8. Almonds not only help you lose weight – they can prevent weight gain!
Despite nuts being associated with weight gain, recent studies show the opposite. The high amount of monounsaturated fats in almonds can help you lose weight by regulating cholesterol and blood sugar.
Not only that, but a study shows that simply including almonds in your diet can inspire people to be healthier. A study group was told to add almonds into their diet. They were given no other instructions. At the end of the study, they were evaluated again. A significant number of test subjects had made their own positive changes to their diet! The levels of certain key nutrients and vitamins were measured to be much higher than they would be simply from supplementing almonds.
9. Almonds help with energy production
Three nutrients in almonds are of particular interest in those interested in being efficient at producing energy. These nutrients are manganese, copper, and riboflavin. Copper and manganese help in the production of superoxide dismutase. This chemical helps fight off free radicals that can form in the mitochrondia – the powerhouse of the cell! Ensuring the mitochondria stays healthy is vitally important for maintaining well-functioning cells. Without mitochondria, your cells won’t producie energy and your body will begin to lose its ability.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2,) has an interesting function. It attaches to certain proteins that allow oxygen-based energy to be produced in the body. This oxygen-based energy production occurs in areas like the lung and hearts. It can be counter-effective if there is a lack of riboflavin, leading to oxidation and the forming of free radicals. Riboflavin ensures that there’s a proper flow of oxygen and that it can be converted effecively to energy.
10. Almonds can help prevent gallstones
Looking at data compiled over the last 20 years, it’s been shown that people who eat almonds regularly have a 25 percent lower chance of developing gallstones. Certain nutrients in the almonds bind to bile acids in the gut, helping to maintain a healthy amount. Gallstones are hardened deposits of fluid. They form in yoru gallbladder, which is just beneath your liver. They’re formed when there is an excess of bile. Bile is usually released into the small intestine, but when there is an excessive amount, it can get stuck in the gallbladder and harden. Gallstones are extremely painful to pass.
The studies show that nuts are efficient in doses as low as an ounce a week. That’s like eating two pieces of toast with a spoonful of nut butter on each!
11. Almonds are a good source of protein
Almonds are a great source of quality protein. A quarter cup of almonds provides you with five grams of protein, which is about ten percent of the recommended daily allowance. Since almonds are low-carb and contain only quality, healthy fats, this is a great amount of protein.
Protein is the building block for muscles and can help a person maintain strength and energy. With inadequate protein intake, people will grow weak and their muscles will lose strength and quality.
12. Almonds have an impressive array of vitamins and nutrients
In a quarter cup of almonds, you will get a varied amount of nutrients. The World’s Healthiest Foods rates almonds to be very good sources of biotin (49 percent of your daily value,) vitamin E (40 percent of your daily value,) manganese (27 percent of your daily value,) and copper (26 percent of your daily value. Almonds actually have the highest amount of biotin, pound for pound, than any other raw food. The contender for second place is the sweet potato, which contains only 29% of your daily value of biotin.
World’s Healthiest Foods also considers almonds to be a good source of vitamin B2, phosphorous, magnesium, molybdenum, and dietary fiber. Vitamin E is very useful in fighting inflammation. It helps maintain healthy skin structure, elasticity and flexiblity.
Manganese is helpful in the maintenance of bones and teeth, much like the similar-sounding nutrient magnesium. Most diets have plenty of manganese in them, but you don’t need to worry about overdosing – excessive magnesium intake won’t cause you any damage unless it’s very extreme. Biotin is a B vitamin that’s crucial for the body to properly metabolize food.
Copper is important in a lot of different ways. It helps you maintain strong ntissues, maintains your blood volume, and helps your mitochondria produce energy. Most diets are deficient in copper.
13. Almonds increase the absorption of other nutrients
Certain nutrients and vitamins – such as vitamin A and D – are fat soluble. This means the body needs an adequate supply of fat to absorb them. Good fat – don’t go jumping down to McDonalds to get a burger to increase your nutrient absorption, because the negatives will quickly outweigh the bads.
Fortunately, almonds are chock full of polyunsaturated fats. These are the most effective fats for helping vitamins which are not soluble in water. Additionally, almonds contain some antioxidants and nutrients that can regulate bile production (too much bile can tax your system of nutrients) and promote intestinal health.
14. Almonds can protect against osteoperosis
Digested almonds leave behind a kind of residue, known as ash. It’s an alkaline substance, which helps maintain the pH level of our blood. Our blood, at its most healthy, keeps an alkaline pH of around 7.4 Sometimes the pH of the blood is offset by eating foods that are too acidic. This is why alkaline foods are necessary in the human diet.
When the blood becomes too acidic, the blood steals calcium from our bones. Calcium helps return the balance of the blood to its optimal pH of 7.4 – at the expense of making your bones more brittle and susceptible to further disease.
Eating almonds can prevent this by leaving its alkaline ash behind in the body. Additionally, the high magnesium and phosphorous content helps strengthen any bones that may already be damaged by osteopersosis.
15. Almonds help maintain bone and dental health
Phosphorous and magnesium – two nutrients that almonds are high in – are essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Almonds also help the body absorb other nutrients, so calcium from other dietary sources will be absorbed more effectively.
Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium together in sufficient amounts will ensure that your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy long into your life. You will be less likely to develop cavities, broken bones, or teeth yellowing.
Delicious Almond Recipes For You To Try Out
These are a few of my favourite almond recipes. You might not want to supplement your diet or healthcare program with handful after handful of raw nuts. Fortunately, almonds are highly versatile. They can be used in a huge number of dishes, from western chickens to eastern styled stir fries to curries.
1. Almond butter recipe
Almond butter is simple to make and easy to pair with lots of different foods. Peanut sauce? Try making almond sauce instead. You can use it as a topping on toast, or put it with different fruits – I like it with apples. I like to use unsalted, dry roasted almonds.
3 cups of almonds. That’s it! (You might need a teaspoon or a tablespoon of oil.)
Throw the almonds in a food processor and pulse them until they become a thick consistency. If they don’t stick together and get ‘buttery,’ you can throw in a teaspoon to a tablespoon of your favourite vegetable oil until the consistency is more appropriate. This will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks. You can add cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, or any of your favourite spices to change up the flavour or tweak it to your personal preference.
2. Overnight oatmeal with almond butter
This is an interesting recipe that uses a slow cooker to make oats. It really brings out the natural flavour of the oats, and infuses the flavour of the cinnamon, spices, and honey. It’s a good way to get a protein and carbohydrate loaded breakfast that will keep you full at least until lunchtime. You can top it up with your favourite fruits or seeds for extra nutritional benefit and flavour.
This recipe makes enough for two or three people.
- Two cups of water
- One cup of milk
- Half a cupOne pinch of salt
- A quarter cup of almond butter
- Two to three tablespoons of honey
Get a four-cup measuring cup. Mix the water, milk, oatmeal and salt together in it. Put all this in a slow cooker and cover it with enough water – around two cups. If you don’t measure this exactly, that’s okay – less is better than more, though.
Turn the slow cooker on low.
When you wake up, your oats will be nice and cooked. Stir in the almond butter and honey. You can now add any spices you want – cinnamon, nutmeg. Serve with milk if you prefer, or have it by itself or with chopped up fruits or berries on to.
This meal will keep you nutritionally satisfied for at least half the day!
3. Halmond butter and Spinach Smoothie
Winter has never been revered for being the best season for smoothies. However, a lot of people let their diet get away from them in winter! This is a nice way to add a cupful of nutrients into your daily intake. The preparation is quick, and the product worthwhile. Having this alongside the powerhouse oatmeal would be enough to keep you going all day.
- A tablespoon of almond butter
- Two cups of spinach
- A cup of almond milk – vanilla flavour preferred
- Half a banana
- A quarter cup of frozen, chunked pineapple
As I’m sure you imagined, the process is quite simple – just like any other smoothie. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend away. When everything’s fully combined, your smoothie will be a beautiful, bright green and the spinach will be completely blended. It should still be cold, so drink it up right away!
4. Roasted Eggplant with a rich, creamy almond-coconut sauce
This is another amazing recipe that does a perfect job of blending all sorts of different flavours together. Using almond butter instead of peanut butter adds a level of depth to the eggplant that couldn’t otherwise be obtained. The cooking of this recipe is quite simple, but you’ll want to start prepping early as you need to salt the eggplant and let it sit for an hour.
Cut the eggplant into half-inch slices. Both sides should be sprinkled with salt. Use your hands to press the salt so it sticks. You can let them sit in a colander so there’s airflow reaching most part of the eggplant. Let it sit for an hour.
Preheat your oven for 450 degrees. AFter they’ve sat for an hour, take the eggplant slices out, rinse the salt off and pat them dry.
Grab a baking sheet and cover it with tinfoil. Put the eggplant on and brush both sides with oil. Once the oven’s preheated, roast it for 20 to 30 minutes or until it’s tender to the touch and taste.
While it’s baking, you can make the sauce. Mix the almond butter, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, chili garlic and fish sauce in a blender or a food processor. Blend on pulse until the mixture’s smooth and creamy. Pour this mixture into a saucepan on low heat. Stir it until the sauce warms up and is a bit thick. This shouldn’t take more than seven minutes at low heat.
To serve, simply put the slices of eggplant on plates and pour the sauce overtop.
5. Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Granola Bars
These incredible, sweet, yet healthy granola bars make a great dessert or a great snack. They’re sweet and sticky, crunchy yet soft, and very rich. The almond butter and walnuts add a great layer of depth to the dark chocolate. I’ve modified the recipe slightly for my own tastes, but the original holds up just as well. The recipe is incredibly simple, the cook time is fast since you don’t need to bake them, and depending on how you slice them, you can get enough servings for quite a few people.
- A cup of dates
- One and a half cup of oats
- Three quarters of a cup of walnuts
- A quarter cup of dark chocolate chips
- A quarter cup of almond butter
- A quarter cup of maple syrup
If you like an extra bit of crisp, toast the oats in the oven at 350 degrees. It’ll take about 15 minutes for them to reach an optimal level of crispiness.
Put the dates in a food processor. Blend them until they’re processed enough to roll into balls. Transfer the dates into a big bowl, and throw in the oats, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips.
Begin mixing and crushing the dates using a spoon. As you crush them, mix them with the other ingredients until everything is fairly well mixed. The dates should be distributed evenly among the other ingredients. Don’t worry if there are little clumps.
In a small pan, heat up the honey and the almond butter on low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour this mixture over the date mixture, and stir right away. Ensure everything’s evenly coated. The chocolate chips should melt a little bit, allowing you to shape the product easier.
Line a baking pan with parchment. Transfer the mixture to the pan, and cover it with plastic wrap. You can use a mold if you like, but it’s easier to shape the mixture by hand. Turn it into a square or a rectangle about half an inch thick.
You can cool them in the refrigerator, or for almost-immediate snacking, throw them in the freezer for fifteen minutes. When they’ve hardened, you can slice them into whatever size you like.