With an enduring history stretching way back to Ancient Egypt, China and Central Asia, Almonds have been revered for millennia as one of humanity’s favourite nuts. They were a prized ingredient in breads served to Egyptian Pharaohs, whilst the Romans showered newlyweds with Almonds as a fertility charm.
Nowadays, Almonds are prized for their health benefits as much as for their culinary delights. Extremely nutritionally dense and bursting with healthy fats, Almonds not only taste great but are also praised as having great medicinal value.
Almonds have been linked to raised intellectual levels since ancient times, and have long been considered as an essential food for brain development in children. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help the formation of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid which accounts for 97% of omega fats found in the brain. DHA helps in the growth and repair of brain cells, helping in the formation of new neurons and the repair of damaged ones.
Almonds also contain the vital brain nutrients riboflavin and L-carnitine. These compounds are linked to increased brain activity and the formation of new neural connections in the brain. The more neural connections the brain forms, the better it functions which can lead to higher intellectual levels.
Almonds contain bioactive polyphenols which serve as antioxidants that protect brain cells against damage caused by free radical attack. Without sufficient stores of antioxidants, brain cells are likely to break down, making people more susceptible to memory loss as they get older. Almonds have also been found to reduce the risk of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Research shows that eating Almonds can reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels healthy. Findings from a 2014 study at Aston University in Birmingham, UK illustrated that they significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. Full of vitamin E, fibre and healthy fats which contribute to a feeling of satiety, and flavonoids which have antioxidant properties, researchers concluded that it is likely to be the combination of all these nutrients working together in Almonds that create the overall health benefits rather than just one particular nutrient in isolation.
Another way that Almonds may help your heart health is by lowering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. LDL plays a major role in the development of plaque that builds up on the blood vessels. Eating Almonds has also been linked to lower levels of the inflammation linked to heart disease.
Lastly, Almonds are extremely high in magnesium – the miracle mineral for the heart. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes, with a magnesium deficiency being strongly correlated with blood pressure problems. Studies have shown that correcting a magnesium deficiency can lead to major reductions in blood pressure. Just a handful of Almonds each day provides around 20% of the RDA for magnesium.
Healthy Weight Loss
Although Almonds are made up of around 72% fat, the majority of their fat content comes from monounsaturated fats (MUFA's) - essential fats that are crucial to the smooth running of bodily systems. Evidence indicates that regularly eating foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, such as Almonds, can contribute towards successful weight loss. One study found that people following a diet enhanced with Almonds lost more weight than individuals following a diet enhanced with complex carbohydrates. The Almond group consumed a daily total of 39% fat, whereas the carbohydrate group had a daily total of just 18% fat. These findings completely dispel the myth that high-fat foods are detrimental to weight loss.
Additionally, the fibre, protein and fat content of Almonds help to keep you feeling full and satiated, significantly reducing the urge to overeat. Their high magnesium content helps regulate blood sugar, which is key in reducing food cravings.
Hair and Skin
Almonds are extremely high in the fat soluble, antioxidant vitamin E, and other nutrients that nourish the skin and reduce signs of aging.
Sweet Almond Oil is deeply nourishing and softening to the skin. It encourages cell renewal, making it particularly good for dry, chapped or sun damaged skin. Almond Oil is safe for babies and it enjoys popularity as an integral ingredient in many natural face creams and as a massage carrier oil.
Almonds are also high in the hair-friendly vitamins; A, D, B1, B2 and B6 and biotin and minerals; zinc, copper and manganese. Together with the healthy fats, these compounds work together to repair severe hair damage as well as strengthening, nourishing and promoting shiny hair growth.
There is no upper dosage for Almonds as they are mild enough to be consumed liberally, however a handful of Almonds are day is known to be a healthy dose.
Sweet Almond oil can be used for skin care and as a massage carrier oil, use approximately 30ml for a full body massage.
Whilst their exact ancestry in unknown, Almonds are thought to have originated in China and Central Asia. Explorers ate them while traveling the "Silk Road" between Asia and the Mediterranean and before long, Almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean - especially in Spain and Italy.
Probably one of the world's first domesticated nuts, Almonds are mentioned in Hebrew literature from 2,000 BCE. King Tut took several handfuls of Almonds to his grave in 1352 BCE, to nourish him on his journey into the afterlife. Persians and Arabs made a milk of almond meal and water, which they valued both as a refreshing drink and as an ingredient in other foods.
Vitamins: E, B1, B2, B3 & Folate. Minerals: Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese & Iron. Amino Acids and Fibre. Fatty Acids make up 50%, consisting of glycerides, linoleic acid, oleic acids, and palmitic acid.
None known. Not to be consumed in the case of nut allergies.