Having been considered the epitome of health and wellness, almonds are the fruits of a tree that is native to South Asia and the Middle East. The species is classified within the genus Prunus, as is the peach, in the subgenus Amygdalus. What differentiates them from other subgenera is the fact that they possess a corrugated shell called endocarp that surrounds the seed.
These nuts represent one of the richest and most health-benefiting nutrient sources that are often viewed as essential for an optimal health. Although the plant is a small, deciduous tree, it grows mostly in areas where fertile conditions are present and growth-favorable.
In the spring seasons, whitish-pink flowers grow in the tree, and they finally transform into fruits until autumn. From a structural point of view, the fruit is represented by a drupe. One edible seed, also known as “almond nut” is enclosed in the hard shell. Their shapes vary from oval to conical and measure somewhere around two centimeters in length and one in breadth with a weight of approximately one gram.
Almonds Functions & Benefits
Because almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber feature a variety of phytochemicals that promote general well-being, they are a part of a well-balanced diet that ensures protection again cancer and certain diseases by enhancing the shield against the harmful damage usually created by free radicals in the body. Each of these nuts has approximately twenty five grams in one hundred grams of Vitamin E with around 170% of RDA. This vitamin is lipid soluble, behaves like an antioxidant, and is needed in the cellular processes where it maintains the integrity of mucus membrane while also protecting the skin against regular oxidation.
Research pointed out that almonds might be a complete source of nutrients and energy, particularly featuring mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as palmitoleic or oleic acid which influence the LDL levels, commonly known by the name of “bad cholesterol” and increases the HDL levels or “good cholesterol”. For example, Mediterranean diet which is viewed as featuring optimal amounts of unsaturated fatty acids can help avoid coronary artery issues as well as strokes because it favorites the health of blood lipids.
They also contain some B-complex vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, or Vitamin B6 which are important factors for the substrate metabolism that occurs on a cellular level. They can provide help in areas like immunity or cardiovascular system by enhancing cellular regeneration and offering protection to the cells. Other compounds like minerals (potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, or magnesium are worth mentioning) can be found in this fruits, thus increasing the positive impact that may take place on the organism when consumption is done on a regular basis, preferably in small quantities daily.
The oil which can be directly extracted from the nuts is usually used by people for its emolliating properties. If it is regularly applied to the skin, it regenerates it at a faster pace and hydrates it, hence avoiding dryness. In addition, the oil is known to have been successfully used in cooking by people for Turkey or Iran. Traditional aromatherapy medicine claims that it is a “carrier on base oil” and, because of this, it is included in a variety of cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, specifically designed for skin enhancement, with high promises of rejuvenation, and eliminating skin issues like acne or eczemas.
When consumed after meals, there is a high possibility of offering protection for cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, mostly because it lessens the increase of cholesterol-damaging radicals that generally accompanies high elevation when it comes to blood sugar. This is the main reason why diets that are low in glycemic index are most likely to result in a minimized risk of heart conditions or diabetes development.
Jones AR states that consuming almonds alongside foods that are high on the glycemic index chart will significantly drop its index, thus lessening the rise in sugar after the meals.
These fruits are sometimes recommended even for individuals who are already suffering from increased blood-fat levels. Some researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada revealed that 2.5 ounce of almonds consumed in form of a snack on a daily basis can do better at lowering LDL in the blood and raising HDL than a wheat muffin that features the same quantities of fibers and fats as almonds. Additionally, they discovered that incorporation of these nuts as a snack may have an impact on the antioxidant status and even noticeably improve its levels. This fact is based on its phytonutrients which are thought to account as some of their special qualities.
Almonds are a part of a small group of foods which contain noticeable quantities of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances that can be found in animals, plants or even human beings. If its concentration increases over the recommended levels in the bodily fluids, it can lead to heart problems because the tissues can be crystalized. Because of this, people that suffer from kidney or gallbladder conditions are advised to avoid consumption of it. Furthermore, there are some studies that showed the interference between oxalates and calcium absorption by the organism on a small level.
Individuals with a history of allergies to almonds, although rare and sometimes undetected if the amounts ingested is small, should consult their personal healthcare prior to beginning any type of treatment that features this ingredient.
As previously mentioned, almonds can be found in raw form in the Middle East or South Asia or other countries where the growth conditions are accordingly. On the other hand, even individuals that live in countries in which the plant isn’t grown may take advantage of its benefits, although in the form of natural supplements. This is because nutritional companies have discovered its qualities and have started to include it as a main, secondary or featuring ingredient in some of their products which are destined for cardiovascular, immune, or sometimes respiratory system enhancement or in creams which should improve the quality of the skin.