Almonds: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Packed with nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals, almonds are a potential warehouse of goodness and have a multitude of benefits. Native to Asia Minor and North Africa, the almond tree is almost among the first to blossom each spring and features prominently not only in the Bible, but was also known to have been one the earliest cultivated foods.
The Almond Timeline:
1400 BC: According to the Bible, the almond tree (or ‘rod’) that bore the almond is a symbol that represents the divine approval of Aaron by God.
100 AD: Almonds were used as a fertility charm by the Romans and were treated as a delicacy by them.
600 – 900 AD: Almond trees began to flourish in the Mediterranean region, especially Italy and Spain, when explorers travelling the ‘Silk Route’ ate almonds along the way, throwing the pits as they travelled, thus spreading the growth of almond trees.
1700 AD: California was introduced to the almond tree by the Franciscan Padres in mid 1700’s, from Spain, which though not successfully grown in the beginning, became one of the most cultivated trees by the end of the 20th century.
1900 AD: Research and cross breeding techniques helped to make California a prominent almond growing region in the world and by the turn of the 20th century the almond industry was firmly established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California.
2000 AD: Almond cultivation flourished in California and today almonds are California’s largest growing nut crop and are also the largest exporter of almonds.
Almonds Nutritional Profile:
Although the calorie and fat contents in almonds are high, the almond, in fact, has the potential to reduce weight! This is possible because of the capacity of this nut to decrease the intake of Trans fatty acids, cholesterol sugars and animal protein, and at the same time promoting the intake of mono saturated fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium and vegetable protein. (Also read this article: Can eating almonds help you loose weight?)
The nutritional contents of 100 gms of almonds are basically as follows:
Calories – 575 Kcal
Carbohydrates – 21.67 g
Protein – 21.22 g
Fat – 49.42 g
Fiber – 12.2 g
Calcium – 264 mg
Iron – 3.72 mg
Magnesium – 268 mg
Prosperous – 484 mg
Sodium – 68 mg
Vitamin E – 26.22 mg
Potassium – 705 mg
Almond, the Versatile Nut:
The almond is perhaps one of the most versatile nuts in the world and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Taken raw or soaked overnight in water these nuts are supposed to improve memory power. In the kitchen and the food industry, it is a prime ingredient in many savory dishes and desserts and they enhance the flavor and taste of any food they are added to. Almond milk is a very good substitute for cow’s milk. Almond oil, rich in vitamin E is used extensively in most beauty products for skin and hair.
Sweet almond Oil: The Cosmetic Industry thrives on a byproduct of almonds know as Sweet Almond Oil, which is a pale yellow liquid derived from sweet and bitter almonds.
Almond Oil Benefits: Very effective when used on dry chapped skin, this oil is high in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids in addition to Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, Vitamin B and Vitamin E. One of the common ingredients found in most cosmetics, hair oils, soaps and shampoos, the sweet almond oil is very effective in replenishing the skin’s natural oils and thereby making the skin look healthier and younger. Most commonly used by massage therapists, this oil is also being used in aromatherapy due its sweet and delicate perfume, and is used in combination with other oils such as lavender and rosemary.
Almond milk: Easy to make and having a long shelf life, this nourishing and refreshing drink is a good substitute for cow’s milk and is ideal for those suffering from lactose intolerance.
Almond Milk Benefits: Containing fewer calories than normal milk, almond milk also helps in weight reduction. Containing no cholesterol, almond milk is also great for a maintaining a healthy heart and normal blood pressure. It is a safe drink for diabetics as the sugar levels have a low glycemic value and which helps the body to digest them easily and give energy. Vitamin E present in almond milk has antioxidant properties and is good for the skin.
Health Benefits of Almonds:
Benefits of Almonds for Heart Health:
Snacking on almonds really gets the heart pumping, quite literally! A handful of these nuts, according to the American Heart Association, help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and helps prevent cardiovascular diseases. The magnesium and potassium present in the almond prevents the buildup of calcium in the blood vessels, thus promoting a resistance free and improved flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Almonds help fight against diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. Consuming these nuts help in significantly decreasing blood sugar levels, by mopping up the free radicals and also helps to increase insulin sensitivity in people who have a higher risk of diabetes. They are also known to decrease the bad cholesterol in the blood.
Benefits of Almonds for Bone Health:
Calcium present in almonds can make up for almost 30% of the value of our recommended calcium intake and 25 % of vitamin D. A handful of almonds (Approximately 10-12) improve bone development in men, women, children and infants.
Benefits of Almonds for Muscle Power
Muscle regulating nutrients like iron and riboflavin found in almonds helps muscles to absorb and use the nutrients for growth, repair and energy.
Almonds Benefits in Weight Management:
Plain, unsweetened almond milk is a good option for people wanting to reduce weight as it has little impact on our daily calorie consumption and also reduces craving.
Almonds as a Beauty Agent:
Almonds are used extensively in the beauty industry, as a skin and hair care product. Almond oil is a highly sought after product not only for its easy availability and affordability, but also for its potent and powerful anti drying and anti ageing properties. A good moisturizer, this oil can be rubbed onto elbows, hands, feet, chapped lips, and also directly onto the face. The Vitamin E in the oil ensures a glowing, wrinkle free skin, and removes fine wrinkles and blemishes from the skin. (Also read home remedies for wrinkles)
One of the main ingredients in stretch mark creams, this oil can also be used to effectively remove stretch marks caused during pregnancy or weight loss.
Beauty Tips using Almonds:
Getting married? Almonds helps you prepare for the big day in your life and some of the home preparations using almonds used regularly for about a week makes your skin look definitely a shade or two fairer and brighter! Almonds along with a combination of other natural ingredients nourish the skin from deep within giving a beautiful glow and radiance to your skin. Here are a few home remedies for a glowing skin using almonds:
- Mix together a tablespoon of almond oil with one tablespoon of milk powder, one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of lemon juice. Apply on your face and leave for 10 – 15 minutes. Wash with luke warm water and watch your skin glow!
- Remove skin from almonds which have been soaked overnight, and make a paste. Add Besan or gram flour and a few drops of lime juice and massage your face with this mixture. Use regularly for a week and watch your skin become soft and glowing.
- Add a handful of almonds, a few neem leaves, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, I teaspoon of sandalwood, 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds to some milk and make a paste. Apply all over your face and let it dry. Wash with warm water. (Also read uses and benefits of neem leaves)
- To ½ teaspoon of almond oil add 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon yogurt and stir well till it becomes thick and sticky. Apply this mask on your face for about 5 minutes and wash face thoroughly with cold water and a mild face wash. Honey stimulates and smoothes the skin, egg and almond oil penetrate and moisturize the skin and the yogurt helps to tighten the pores, leaving behind a glowing and silky smooth skin!
- Rub almond oil on your face gently with your fingertips in a circular motion. The oleic acid in the oil helps in curing acne and leaves the skin clear and blemish free.
Benefits of Almond Oil for Healthy Hair:
A natural remedy for a complete hair care, almond oil is a one stop shop for curing any hair disorders like hair fall, dandruff and dry and itchy scalp and can be used on any type of hair. Massage hair with a tablespoon of warm almond oil. Cover hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap and wrap it up in a towel. Wash off with a mild shampoo. After a week you will notice that your hair has become silky and smooth. Applying almond oil to an itchy scalp helps alleviate inflammation and skin irritation. (read how to grow hair faster naturally)
Interesting Almond Facts:
- Almonds and Dates are supposed to have been the earliest cultivated food and find mention in the Bible, a number of times.
- Cleopatra is said to have used almond milk for her bath.
- Almonds signified fertility in ancient times as symbol of children, love, happiness and good health and were given as gifts to newly married couples.
- Do not want to get drunk at a party and make a fool of yourself? Consume a handful of almonds before leaving for the party. Chances are that, not only will you not get drunk, but you can also avoid a hangover the next day!