Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack with plenty of health benefits. Loaded with minerals, they are also among the healthiest of tree nuts. Just a handful of nutrient-rich almonds a day helps promote heart health and prevent weight gain, and it may even help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Fortunately, the delicately flavored and versatile almond is available throughout the year to make a healthy and tasty addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Although packaged almonds are available year round, they are the freshest in mid-summer, which is when they are at the height of their season.
The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut.
Health Benefits of Almonds:
1. They reduce heart attack risk.
Those who consume nuts five times a week have about a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart attack according to the Loma Linda School of Public Health.
2. They lower “bad” cholesterol.
Almonds added to the diet have a favorable effect on blood cholesterol levels, according to a clinical study by Dr. Gene Spiller, Director of the Health Research and Studies Center, Inc.
3. They protects artery walls from damage.
It was found that the flavonoids in almond skins work in synergy with the vitamin E, thus reducing the risk of heart disease (Research at Tufts University).
4. Almonds help build strong bones and teeth.
The phosphorus in almonds helps make this possible.
5. They provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss:
- Although nuts are high in fat, frequent nut eaters are thinner on average than those who almost never consume nuts. (Data from the Nurses’ Health Study)
- Those who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than were those who never or seldom ate them in a study involving 8,865 adults. (WHFood’s article on almonds)
6. Almonds lower the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals.
7. They help provide good brain function.
Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
8. They nourish the nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, almonds help increase high intellectual level and longevity.