Native to Mediterranean / Middle East and spread historically to north Africa and south Europe and more recently to California. Wild almonds are bitter and toxic while domestic almonds are not! Almond is a kernel or seed not a nut.
Almonds reduce serum cholesterol and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. They are a very good source of many nutrients: plant sterols, dietary fibre, plant protein, antioxidants, flavonoids; skins are rich in polyphenols, low in saturated fatty acids, rich in monounsaturated and unsaturated fatty acids; Heart protective: α-tocopherol, arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, potassium.
Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-Oxidant: due to flavonoids and polyphenols, especially in the skin. May account for the reduction in Coronary Heart Disease risk in addition to lowering cholesterol. Prevent effects on oxidative stress and DNA damage caused by smoking. Almond skin reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in an inflammatory bowel disease model.
Cancer: Almond consumption may reduce colon cancer risk.
Cardiovascular: Nuts as part of a diet using multiple heart-healthy foods to lower cholesterol surpasses that of typical cholesterol-lowering diets used to reduce cardiovascular risk and reduces serum lipids and blood pressure.
Cholesterol: Conflicting evidence: A meta-analysis did not support almonds solely for their lipid modifying effects, calling for further investigations. Others show benefits: on atherosclerotic lesions in mice; 50-100g almonds 5 times per week contribute to reduced plasma total cholesterol and LDL more than by reducing dietary saturated fatty acid; a simultaneous decrease in dietary saturated fatty acid should further improve lipid profiles.
Diabetes: Conflicting evidence: One study shows nuts have cardiovascular benefits but their effect in diabetic patients is unclear. Others show benefits: Almonds as part of a healthy diet can improve inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and improve markers of glucose control. Almonds included with breakfast decrease blood glucose concentrations and increase satiety in adults with impaired glucose tolerance.
Glycaemic Index: In addition to lowering serum cholesterol levels, almonds may reduce the glycaemic impact of carbohydrate foods with which they are eaten.
Obesity: An almond-enriched diet and a low calorie nut-free diet resulted in similar weight loss. 43g per day of almonds after a meal lowered serum glucose responses, reduced hunger and desire to eat and did not increase the risk for weight gain.
Memory: Almond treated rats showed significant improvement in learning and memory and enhanced tryptophan levels and serotonin turnover in brain. Almonds may be a useful memory-restorative for dementia in Alzheimer patients.
Polycystic ovary syndrome: Nut intake benefited plasma lipids and androgens in PCOS.
Prebiotic: Finely ground almonds altered the composition of gut bacteria by stimulating the growth.
Skin: α-Tocopherol and polyphenols in almonds, applied to human skin equivalent, provided photoprotection against UVA.
Adding Almonds to your Diet
- Sprinkle on salads and steamed vegetables
- Eat as a snack raw or roasted
- Add to smoothies, use unsweetened almond milk
- Add to a meal to lower the glycaemic index
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