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Almonds – Benefits, Nutritional Value and Recipes

Many Indian households have the tradition of adding almonds to desserts or serving them raw as religious offerings or festive snacks. Well, they aren’t so without reason. Almonds are edible seeds from almond trees.

The nutritional benefits of almonds are astonishing. They are full of nutrients, and these nuts are also versatile. From sweet to savoury, you can find dishes that use almonds in some way or the other.

Interestingly, almonds are not nuts at all. From a botanical standpoint, they belong to the family of drupes, along with apricots and cherries. However, almonds are generally referred to as tree nuts due to their resemblance to other nuts. Their modest size does not do justice to the immense goodness they contain. Read along and find out why.

Nutritional Values of Almonds

100 grams of almonds contain:

Calories: 579 kcalCarbohydrates: 21.6 gDietary fibre: 12.5 gSugar: 4.4 gFat: 49.9 gProtein: 21.2 gVitamin E: 25.6 mgRiboflavin: 1.014 mgManganese: 2.285 mgMagnesium: 268 mgPhosphorous: 484 mg

Nutritional Facts of Almonds

Consist of 22% carbs, 21% protein, and 50% fat. Almonds are a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.They are calorie-dense food. Hence, one should watch portion size.They are an excellent source of vitamin E. 100 grams contain a whopping 171% of the daily recommended value.All B vitamins are present in reasonable quantities. In particular, riboflavin (B2) makes up 85% of the daily recommended value. Contains a considerable amount of choline that is rare to find in food items. The mineral profile of almonds is impressive too. Manganese is accountable for 109% of the daily recommended value. Magnesium, phosphorous, and copper closely follow the list, with each of them over 50% of the daily requirement.Smaller amounts of zinc, calcium and iron are also present. Similar to other nuts, almonds are rich in phytosterols. These compounds are similar to cholesterol and block their absorption in the body. 

The Myth Around Almond and the Fat Content

Many people are afraid of consuming almonds due to their high-fat content. It is frightening to know that fat constitutes about 50% of an almond. However, there is no need to fret, as two-thirds of this fat is good for you.

Furthermore, they are heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. Research also says that eating almonds within the prescribed limit does not make you gain weight. On the contrary, they enhance heart health and help in weight loss. Thus, the benefits of almonds are manifold.

10 Health Benefits of Almonds

1. Improves Heart Health

According to a study, almonds help reduce LDL-C, a known risk factor for coronary heart disease. Almonds reduce the level of bad cholesterol (a.k.a LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein) in the body, thereby ensuring a healthier heart. Moreover, the risks of heart ailments drastically reduce when almonds are added to the diet.

2. Aids in Weight Loss

Although almonds are high in calories, they are rich in fibre and protein. These two components will help to keep you fuller for longer. Subsequently, the tendency to snack on unhealthy options reduces, resulting in reduced calorie intake.

A study proves that regular almond consumption aids in weight loss. Two groups were a part of the research. The first group that added almonds to their diet lost more weight and belly fat than the other group. Thus, it is safe to say that almonds aid in weight loss and may help you cut down on abdominal fat.

3. Contains Many Antioxidants 

Catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol, vitamin E etc., are some of the antioxidants present in almonds. These antioxidants help prevent oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress in the body damages the molecules of our cells. It results in ageing, inflammation, memory loss and degenerative diseases like cancer.

Almond skin houses these antioxidants. So, if you wash almonds adequately and eat with the skin, you will get maximum benefits. You should also avoid blanching almonds for this purpose.

A study proves that regular intake of almonds supplies a good level of antioxidants in the body. It results in preventing memory loss, cancer and cell-inflammation related diseases.  

4. Work as an Excellent Substitute for Flour in Gluten-free Diets

It is perfectly safe for gluten intolerant people or on a gluten-free diet. Also, almond flour helps make up for the loss of iron, fibre and B vitamins in such diets.

Therefore, people who cannot digest gluten can eat almonds in their raw form or any form. So, if you are on a gluten-free diet, almond flour is an excellent alternative to wheat flour.

5. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Almonds have adequate fibre and magnesium. Both help in controlling diabetes by managing blood sugar levels.

Research proves that regular intake of almonds may reduce fasting and postprandial glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity and regulate glycosylated haemoglobin.

Moreover, if you combine them with some other foods, the glycaemic index of different foods reduces.

6. Increases Energy

Do not judge the nut almond by its size. It’s a powerhouse of energy, full of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

In addition, the high amounts of riboflavin in almonds help produce energy from our food. Thus, almonds are energy encouragers. Copper and manganese also work towards maintaining energy flow in the body.

7. Promotes Vitamin E 

Vitamin E is an antioxidant in itself. The abundance of vitamin E in almonds brings many benefits like improving eye health and boosting immunity.

In addition, the antioxidants in almonds prevent cells from early oxidation damage. Vitamin E is also crucial for healthy skin and the proper functioning of organs.

8. Reduces Risk of Gallstones

Almonds have omega3 fatty acids like PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) and MUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid). These are good fats that help prevent gallstones.

In addition, these fats ensure the smooth functioning of the liver and gallbladder. It is mainly due to their fat and fibre component. Therefore, regular consumption can reduce the possibility of gallstone diseases significantly.

9. Promotes Bone Health

Many nutrients in almonds, such as calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc, are bone-friendly. As a result, the consumption of almonds reduces the osteoclast activity of bone cells.

In addition, a study shows that there is a positive correlation between almond consumption and bone health. So, add almonds to your daily diet if you wish to strengthen your bones and keep them strong. 

10. Boosts Brain Power 

Almonds contain tocopherol, folate, polyphenols etc. These nutrients prevent cognitive degeneration. In addition, the presence of these nutrients helps boost brain power by keeping the brain healthy for more extended periods.

Different Ways to Include Almonds to Your Diet

The simplest way is to eat almonds in their raw form. You can buy dry-roasted, blanched, salted, sliced or slivered as well. In terms of nutrition, dry-roasted is closest to the raw ones.

Tastier alternatives like chocolate-dipped and honey-roasted are also available readily. However, those kinds of toppings add to the calories and sugar content.

1. Almond Milk 

Almond milk is growing more popular by the day. Those who are lactose-intolerant or prefer plant-based foods can opt for almond milk. It does not contain any cholesterol and is rich in calcium and vitamins. Moreover, a cup of this has only 40 calories to it. Therefore, Almond milk can replace cow’s milk in almost all recipes.

2. Almond Flour

Almond flour is a superb alternative to regular all-purpose flour. They are made of finely ground blanched almonds. Also, it is gluten-free and has low carbs content.

When compared to wheat flour, they are higher in nutrition as well as in calories. You can use this for baking, pancakes or bread. Remember that it has a high moisture content, and proportions may differ accordingly.

3. Almond Butter

If you are a fan of peanut butter, almond butter is an excellent option. In particular, it is a blessing for those with peanut allergies. Both have a similar consistency and calories per tablespoon. However, the mineral and vitamin profile of this is slightly higher. Spread it on a few slices of apple, and you have a delicious and filling snack.

Almonds Healthy Recipes

While it is easy to eat almonds raw, they can become monotonous soon. However, these recipes are healthy and have a fun twist to them. In this way, you can include almonds in different styles in your diet.

#1 Almond pearls

It is no secret that almonds are a perfect snack. Follow this recipe to add an exciting punch of flavour to it.

Ingredients:

Almonds (toasted) – 50 gOats – 1 tbspPomegranate arils – 20 gRice/Bran flakes – ¼ cupCurry leaves – 1 tspMustard seeds – ½ tspGhee (homemade is preferable) – ½ tbspCumin seeds – 1 tspRed chilli powder – 1 tspPepper powder – ½ tspLemon juice – 1 tspSalt – to taste

Method:

Take a dry pan and toast the oats and rice/bran flakes in it. Then, keep it aside and let it cool down.Heat ghee in the same pan and mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Follow this with curry leaves.Now, add pomegranate arils, toasted oats and flakes. Toss in the toasted almonds and mix everything. According to taste, add salt, red chilli powder and pepper powder. Lastly, pour in the lemon juice and give it a mix. Garnish with coriander (optional).

#2 Smoothie 

Almond smoothies are an excellent snack or even an on the go breakfast meal. The best part about smoothies is that there is no hard and fast rule. So, mix it up the way you like.

Ingredients:

Almonds – 1 ½ tbspBanana – 1 Almond milk (unsweetened) – ¼ cup Non-fat or greek yoghurt – ½ cupCocoa powder – ½ tbsp

Method:

Make sure to peel and freeze the banana overnight. It makes the blending process more straightforward.Put the almonds, frozen banana and yoghurt into a blender. Add a little bit of almond milk to it.Blend it well until it becomes a fine mixture. Then, depending on your preferred consistency, adjust the amount of milk.Add cocoa powder if you like a chocolate finish to it. Add ice cubes if needed and blend everything.Once it gets a smooth consistency, pour into a glass and serve chilled.

Precaution

People with a nut allergy should stay away from almonds. They tend to have the same effects as other nuts. However, the symptoms may be severe in some people with difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. In addition, you may develop hives or an itchy rash within a few hours. Therefore, you should consult a doctor immediately and avoid further consumption in such cases.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How many almonds should one eat in a day, and when?

A. Around 6 to 8 almonds is a decent serving per day. Since almonds are high in calories, it is best to eat them in moderate amounts. Add almonds to your breakfast, as this is an ideal time. Digestion of almonds is easier in the mornings and optimises the health benefits, including regulating blood sugar and aiding weight loss. However, it is okay to have them for snacks as well, in the evenings too.

Q. Are soaked almonds better than raw almonds?

A. Yes, in some ways, soaked almonds are more beneficial to health. Soaking them for a couple of hours makes them soft and easy to digest. As a result, it increases nutrient absorption in the body when compared to raw almonds. Also, soaking reduces the level of anti-nutrients that inhibit the proper release of nutrition.

Q. Do almonds give you gas?

A. No, unlike some other nuts, almonds are easily digestible. Therefore, if you suffer from bloating and gas, then switch up your nuts with almonds. Avoid salted almonds to prevent water retention, as this may further lead to bloating. However, remember to eat them in moderation to avoid further problems.

Q. How to store almonds properly?

A. The shelf life of almonds depends on how they are made and processed. In general, raw almonds are good to consume for up to 2 years when they are refrigerated. Storing them in the fridge or freezer is the best way to maximise their shelf life. Toasted almonds stay consumable for more extended periods when kept in a dry, air-tight container.

Q5. What are the benefits of eating almonds daily?

A. Eating almonds daily will benefit you. It can help improve your heart health, and may help you lose weight.

Q6. What are the negative effects of almonds?

A. People who have nut allergies develop rashes and should not eat almonds. 

Q7. What is the best time to eat almonds?

A. Early in the morning or during the day is the best time to eat almonds. 

Q8. Is it OK to eat raw almonds?

A. Yes, but make sure you wash them properly. 

Q9. Can I eat 10 almonds a day?

A. Yes, you can eat up to twelve almonds in a day. However, if you are on a strict diet, keep a tab on the quantity, since almonds are rich in calories. 

Q10. Can we eat almonds without soaking?

A. Yes, we can. Make sure you wash the almonds thoroughly before eating. 

Q11. Who should not eat almonds?

A. People with chronic kidney disorders should not eat almonds due to their high phosphorous content. Also, people with nut allergies should avoid eating almonds. 

Q12. Is it good to eat almonds on an empty stomach?

A. Yes indeed, it is beneficial to eat almonds on an empty stomach. 

Q13. What is the best way to eat almonds?

A. The best way to eat almonds is by washing them and soaking them in water for some hours before eating. 

Q14. Should we remove the skin of soaked almonds?

A. No, we should not. The skin has fibre and antioxidants, which are beneficial for our health. 

Q15. How long should almonds be soaked?

A. 4-6 hours is an ideal time. 

Q16. How many almonds should I eat per day to lose weight?

A. 10-12 almonds is enough. It will keep you satiated and help you avoid munching on junk.   

Q17. Are almonds good for weight loss?

A. Yes, almonds can help you lose weight. 

Q18. When should I eat almonds to lose weight?

A. The best time is early in the morning, before a workout. 

Q19. How many calories are in 5 almonds?

A. 5 almonds have around 37 calories. 

Q20. Can I eat 50 almonds a day?

A. No, not at all. 10-12  is the ideal quantity. Excessive eating of almonds can lead to breathing problems, reduce nutrient absorption, constipation etc. 

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