Amazing Almonds: Super Food for Superb Health

Most of you have literally grown up hearing Dadima ke nuske on various Ayurvedic herbs and recipes. One of the most impactful and flavoursome suggestions from her kitty includes almonds.

Known as ‘badam’ in India, Iran and Pakistan, almonds are available throughout the year. This is what makes it priceless in badam ka halwa, badam ki kheer, badam shake, sherbet-e-badaam (a popular summer drink), or for that matter almond milk, almond cookies, almond butter and countless recipes that are full of nutrition and taste. Remember, the extremely nutritious badam rogan – an oil which is used for skin and hair massage in infants and adults.  

Almonds can be eaten raw, roasted or soaked overnight and taken next morning by peeling off its skin. Either way, the almond seed is called as almond nut.

Though almonds originated in western Asia and North Africa, the Romans addressed almonds as ‘Greek nut’. Ancient Romans, it is believed, also showered almonds on the just-married couples as a fertility charm.

Today, almonds are grown in several countries such as USA, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Italy. In the street markets of Iran, green almonds are usually eaten as snacks by dipping them in sea salt. India, as per statistics, imports colossal amounts of California almonds.

Sweet Vs Bitter Almonds – A Comparison

The actual difference between bitter and sweet almonds lies in their width. The bitter almonds are shorter and broader in size and shape than sweet almonds and have over 50% of fixed oil (found in sweet almonds).

Each bitter almond has 42 times higher amounts of cyanide than the trace levels found in sweet almonds.  So it is best to avoid bitter almonds unless you are fully aware of the dietary restrictions.  

Almonds – Healthily Yours

A highly popular tree nut, almonds are highly nutritious. Here are a few facts on almonds that will delight you no end.

  1. Nutrients

almonds facts

Source:  Wikipedia and USDA

  1. Antioxidants and Vitamin E

Almonds have a powerhouse of antioxidants that prevents against stress, ageing and severe maladies such as cancer.

When you eat almonds with their skin on, your body gets more than 20 antioxidant flavonoids and lots of Vitamin E.

Being fat-soluble, Vitamin E lowers the risk of cardiac problems, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The best part about Vitamin E is that just one ounce provides you 37% of the recommended daily intake.

  1. Blood Sugar Control

Nuts such as almonds are low in carbs, but high in proteins, healthy fats and fiber. This makes almonds the perfect choice for those of you suffering from diabetes.

Moreover almonds have high quantities of magnesium mineral which is involved in controlling blood sugar, preventing metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.                                                                                       

  1. Lowers Harmful LDL Cholesterol

Eating a handful of almonds on a daily basis reduces LDL bad cholesterol significantly. Other than that, almonds also help reduce troublesome and irritating belly fat.

  1. Lowers Calorie Intake

Almonds reduce the hunger pangs pretty well since they keep you feeling full during most part of the day after consumption. Since protein and fiber amounts are adequate in almonds, they increase the feeling of satisfaction and reduce the chances of calories.

  1. Weight Management

As per published sources, magnesium present in almonds regulates blood sugar, which plays a vital role in reducing food cravings. Almonds have the ability to block your body’s absorption of calories. This makes it a weight loss-friendly snack. Since almonds have high amount of calories, limit its consumption to 23 nuts (equivalent to 1 ounce).

  1. Brain Tonic

Almonds enhance your memory functions owing to the presence of riboflavin and L-carnitine that improve the healthy functioning of your brain.

  1. Prevents Constipation

Almond is rich in fiber that is effective in curing constipation. But in order to achieve that, drink plenty of water so that it boosts digestion. In fact, 4 to 5 almonds a day can be a sure shot way to keep your bowel function working smoothly.

Top Benefits of Almonds in a Nutshell

–          Almonds are gluten-free

–          Almonds are high in monounsaturated good fat. This nut has no sodium or cholesterol

–          Almonds have high amounts of six essential nutrients, plus fiber and protein

–          Almonds have 12 vitamins and minerals and are rich in magnesium

–          Almonds have low glycemic index and curbs your food cravings

Selection and Storage of Almonds

Almonds boast of a long life when kept in their shells. Whenever you are buying them, make sure they are not split, stained or mouldy and are uniform in colour.

Do not hesitate to smell the almonds. The best almonds usually smell sweet and nutty. However, if you smell a sharp or bitter odour, it means almonds have turned rancid making them unfit for purchase and consumption.

There are ‘dry roasted’ almonds as well, which are not roasted in oil. Such types of almonds have a roasted flavour and texture. Watch out for additional ingredients in dry almonds mentioned on the packaging. Things such as sugar, corn syrup and preservatives that have been added in dry almonds should be avoided.

Yes, almonds can be kept refrigerated and stored in the freezer for a longer period of time. This way they can last up to a year.

Since almonds are difficult to digest owing to phytate present in it, you can experience stress in your pancreas. In order to get maximum nutrition, it is advisable to soak almonds the night before or roast them. Soaking of almonds neutralizes the phytate, permitting the nutrients from the nut to be released.

Recipe for Badam Halwa

badam halwa

Source: tarladalal.com

Few Concerns over Almonds

Pasteurized almonds rob them of their nutrition. Moreover wild almond varieties are toxic in nature as compared to cultivated almonds, which are safe.

As per estimates, 1 to 2% of the population is allergic to tree nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts, and others), peanuts and in some cases both. Symptoms range from oral allergy syndrome, urticaria to even systemic signs and symptoms including gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms.

In cases of little children, it is advisable not to feed the toddlers with almonds until they have turned one year old.                

Now that you have seen a wealth of facts and benefits of almonds, do include it in your everyday diet. Going nuts over almond nuts would benefit you immensely!

Additional Reading

Almonds – A Complete Overview

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