The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus) is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries but widely cultivated elsewhere. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.
The fruit of the almond is a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed, which is not a true nut, inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are sold shelled or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed to reveal the white embryo.
Almonds are nutrient powerhouses. Whether consumed whole, chopped, sliced, or ground into almond flour or almond butter, this deliciously satisfying nut truly deserves its superfood status. Here are six research-backed almond benefits, and simple ways to incorporate them into meals, snacks, and treats.
An ounce of almonds, which is about a quarter cup or 23 whole nuts, provides a generous amount of heart healthy fat, along with 6 g of plant protein, 4 g of filling fiber (13% of the daily minimum), half of the daily target for vitamin E, and 20% for magnesium—along with B vitamins and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, and potassium.
Vitamin E—which acts as an antioxidant protecting cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and disease—also supports immunity, reduces inflammation, helps widen blood vessels to improve blood flow, and is linked to protection against neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Magnesium plays a role in brain health, mood, and sleep, as well as the regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. The overall nutrient package almonds provide also helps protect bone density.
Almonds are a vital source of antioxidants, much of which is concentrated in their brown layer of skin. One study (partly funded by the Almond Board of California), found that in men and women who consumed 2.5 ounces of almonds daily, blood levels of biomarkers for oxidative stress decreased by as much as 27% over one month. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body's ability to counter their harmful effects. Scientists believe that the antioxidants in almonds are responsible for the protective impact.
Both raw and roasted almonds have been found to act as prebiotics, which serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut linked to immunity, anti-inflammation, and mental health. In a recent study, college students were randomly assigned to snack on almonds or graham crackers. After eight weeks, researchers observed that the almond eaters experienced important changes in their gut microbiome makeup, including a decrease in a pathogenic bacterium, and an increase in the diversity of bacteria tied to positive outcomes, including weight management, insulin function, cholesterol regulation, and anti-inflammation.
Almonds protect your heart in several ways. The nuts have been shown to maintain or increase “good” heart protective HDL cholesterol, while lowering “bad” LDL levels.
Almonds and other nuts also help reduce blood pressure and improve vascular function, meaning they help blood vessels relax and reduce artery stiffness. In one study in people with high cholesterol, two groups were randomly assigned to a cholesterol-lowering diet that contained either 1.5 ounces of almonds, or the same number of calories from a nut free muffin. After two weeks the nut eaters experienced a reduced LDL while maintaining HDL. The almonds eaters also had reductions in belly and leg fat.
|Benefits of Legumes||
Primary BenefitsAs an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber, legumes are a highly satiating food. This means that for a relatively low amount of calories legumes make you feel fuller longer and, therefore, help prevent the hunger that can lead to unhealthy snacking and unwanted pounds. For about 115 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked lentils provides about 9 grams of protein, 20 grams of mostly complex carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat. It also supplies nearly 8 grams of fiber, or 31 percent of the recommended daily value. Most legumes contain significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating legumes several times a week promotes bowel regularity and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.
Secondary BenefitsLegumes are sometimes called “poor people’s meat” because they’re an inexpensive source of quality plant protein. They truly are an ideal meat substitute, however, because the vitamin and mineral profiles of legumes and meat are comparable. Whereas meat is also a source of cholesterol and saturated fat, however, legumes are a cholesterol-free food that contains virtually no saturated fat. For just over 110 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked black beans delivers 32 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent of the daily values for folate, magnesium and thiamine, respectively, and about 10 percent each of the daily values for iron and potassium. Opting for legumes instead of meat two or three times a week promotes healthy cholesterol levels and helps protect against heart disease.
|Benefit of Nuts/Seeds||Nuts and seeds benefit your health by providing a source of dietary fiber. Fiber is a specialized type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It does not break down as it passes through your digestive tract, and the undigested fiber adds bulk to your stool to promote regular bowel movements. Fiber also helps slow the rate of digestion. This means that sugar from your meal enters your bloodstream slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar that leaves you feeling energized after you eat. Opt for flax seeds as an excellent source of fiber -- an ounce of the seeds contains a whopping 7.7 grams. An ounce of almonds boosts your fiber intake by 3.5 grams, while sunflower seeds contain 3.1 grams of fiber per ounce. An equivalent an serving of pistachios and pecans offers 2.9 and 2.7 grams,
A diet rich in nuts and seeds also helps keep you healthy as you age by preventing disease. People who regularly consume nuts tend to weigh less than those who rarely eat nuts, as well as face a lower risk for weight gain in the future. Nuts and seeds both help reduce the levels of inflammation in your body, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, which might reduce your risk of heart disease. Nut consumption also correlates with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
|Benefits of Seeds/Oils||Cardamom is packed with antioxidants. There are two kinds of cardamoms, green and black. Black cardamoms help in curing colds and cough and certain respiratory problems," shares Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood. Steep some pods in water along with honey and drink this cardamom tea as an effective natural remedy for flu. It imparts warmth to the body.Cloves can help protect your stomach from ulcers. Most ulcers are caused by thinning in the layers of mucus that protect your stomach lining. Preliminary studies show that cloves can thicken this mucus, lowering your risk of developing ulcers and helping existing ulcers heal.Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.
Sunflower oil is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin E which help in promoting skin health. These vitamins act as antioxidants. They help in regenerating damaged skin cells and getting rid of the acne causing bacteria. The oil is light and non-greasy and thus, it gets absorbed in the skin easily without blocking the pores. Sunflower oil also acts as a natural moisturizer and helps in treating dry, sensitive skin.