The almond is a genus of tree related to the peach, plum and cherry native in the Middle East, India, and North Africa. Now, it can be found in places like Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and California of the United States. The fruit is called a drupe and not a seed because it has an outer hull and a hard shell. Although sweet almonds are edible, the wild, bitter versions are not because it contains glycoside amygdalin, which can be converted into the deadly prussic acid or hydrogen cyanide after an injury to the seed. People eat almonds by themselves, but almonds have many uses like almond butter and almond milk for substitutes of peanut butter and cow’s milk respectively.
Here are the 7 health benefits of almonds.
1. Almonds could help lower cholesterol levels.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a type of lipoprotein that delivers fat molecules to the cells and potentially drive the progression of atherosclerosis if they oxidize in the artery walls. High LDL levels act as a risk factor for heart disease. For this reason, LDL is called “bad cholesterol.” Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition conducted a 16-week study where 65 pre-diabetic participants ate a diet that had 20% of the calories from almonds. They found that almonds may have helped the participants lower their LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 12.4 mg/dL.
2. Almonds could help promote a healthy brain.
Almonds have brain-boosting vitamins like riboflavin and L-carnitine that could help improve neurological activity and prevent cognitive decline associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Almonds could help improve your blood pressure.
Western diets do not have enough potassium, which could make people at risk for high blood pressure or hypertension. Also, studies have shown that improving magnesium deficiencies could lead to reductions in blood pressure. Almonds are rich in both potassium and magnesium with one ounce of almonds giving the average person 5 percent and 19 percent of the daily recommendations, respectively.
4. Almonds could help boost your heart.
Almonds possess heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, and potassium. Also, almonds are a great source of folate. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is not used to create proteins. High levels of homocysteine in the blood could lead to inflammation in the blood vessels and coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that high homocysteine levels are correlated with blood clots and strokes. Folate helps reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood.
5. Almonds could help you control your blood sugar.
Studies have shown that 25 to 38 percent of type 2 diabetes are magnesium deficient. Improving your deficiency could significantly decrease your blood pressure levels and improve insulin function. Also, almonds are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber could help reduce blood sugar spikes, which could help benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Almonds could help improve your digestion.
Dietary fiber could help add bulk to your stool and improve digestion. Preventing build-up of stool could reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to the National Cancer Center.
7. Almonds could help babies’ brain development.
Almonds contain folate, which could help reduce the risk of congenital disabilities in newborn babies. Women who eat foods high in folate before and during pregnancy could reduce the baby’s risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida.