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Aside from being a delicious food, almonds offer an extensive number of health benefits.
The Benefits of Almonds
Studies have shown numerous health benefits of nut consumption including reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, gallstones, hypertension, cancer, inflammation, blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.
Almonds, in particular, are anti-inflammatory due to their high polyphenols content. In fact, studies show that diets rich in almonds can reduce some inflammation markers including CRP.They are also a good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant.
10 Science-Backed Reasons To Add Almonds To Your Diet
Cancer fighter – Gamma tocopherol (a type of vitamin E) is a potent antioxidant, that can fight oxidative stress and free radical damage which is linked to cancer. Studies link higher vitamin E intake with lower rates of prostate and colon cancer.
Constipation – Almonds are rich in fiber. Fiber is beneficial in helping prevent constipation.
Weight loss – Almonds contain monounsaturated fat that helps curb appetite and can prevent overeating. This study shows that people who consumed almonds at least twice a week were more likely to remain at their ideal weight, rather than those who rarely or never consume almonds.
Lowered Cholesterol – Almonds have been found to have a consistent LDL-lowering effect in healthy individuals, and in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes
Diabetes – Almonds are high in healthy fat, protein, fiber and magnesium. Magnesium is also needed for more than 300 bodily functions including controlling blood sugar levels.
Blood pressure – Magnesium deficiency has been linked to blood pressure problems. Almonds are high in magnesium and may be able to help reduce blood pressure issues.
Heart Health – Some of the ingredients in almonds such as arginine, calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and potassium are important nutrients for heart health. Research also shows people whose intake of vitamin E is high are 30-40% less likely to suffer from heart disease.
Brain health– Almonds contain L-carnitine and riboflavin two ingredients that positively affect brain activity and actually help prevent cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s – Several studies link lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease to high vitamin E consumption., as well as less cognitive decline with age. As mentioned earlier, thankfully almonds are high in vitamin E.
Gut Health– Almonds and almond skins are rich in fiber and other components that have potential prebiotic properties. This study showed significant improvement of gut flora due to the ingestion of almond skin.
Here’s the Nutrition Data
Just a small handful of almonds offers your body 20% of the RDA daily need for magnesium. They are also high in vitamin E, selenium and a great source of fiber.
One ounce of almonds (roughly equals 23 almonds) contains:
Fiber: 3.5 grams.
Protein: 6 grams.
Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated).
Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.
But Aren’t Almond High In Inflammatory Omega 6?
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential fatty acids. This means that the body can’t produce omega 3 and 6 on its own, they are obtained through your diet. If you aren’t obtaining these nutrients from your diet it is likely you will develop a deficiency and illness will follow, hence the term “essential” fatty acid.
Omega 3 is found in foods like salmon, sardines, herring and other cold water fish, as well as walnuts, chia seeds, grass fed beef, grass fed dairy, leafy greens, and flax seeds. The most prominent benefit of omega 3 is related to heart disease. Omega 3 fats can reduce cardiac death, have a therapeutic effect on children with ADHD, and are beneficial for individuals with dry eye syndrome, in addition, they are are also beneficial for children with bronchial asthma.
Omega 6 is more easily found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and oils such as grapeseed, sunflower, poppy seed, soybean, sesame, and walnut. Omega 6 is also beneficial in reducing nerve pain, fighting inflammation, treating rheumatoid arthritis, reducing ADHD symptoms, reducing high blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease, and supporting bone health.
Balance is key. A healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is ideally 2:1. A diet that is high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3 can increase inflammation in the body, while a balance of these two essential fatty acids reduces inflammation.
Unfortunately, a typical American diet tends to contain 14-25 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3; this is largely due to the high intake of processed food. The main culprits are ingredients such as soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and other heavily refined vegetable oils that are found in crackers, cookies, chips, granola bars and other packaged foods. So instead of avoiding almonds because of their Omega 6 content, simply cut back on processed foods and enjoy real, whole-food
What’s The Best Way To Eat Almonds?
Nuts contain phytic acid. This is nature’s way of protecting the seed until the conditions are just right for it to germinate and grow. From a nutritional perspective this can be a problem, as the phytic acid will bind to minerals and actually inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. As the phytic acid content of your diet increases, the intestinal absorption of zinc, iron and calcium decreases. This is why many people have a difficult time eating nuts.
For this reason, many cultures soak nuts in seawater to enhance their digestibility and nutritional benefits. The nutrient content of nuts also dramatically increases when they are soaked. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, in his book Conscious Eating states, “Proteins, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals increase 300 to 1200%.” (1) Once they are soaked, they can then be sprouted or dehydrated.
How to soak and dehydrate almonds
This recipe is based on using: 4 cups of nuts, 8 cups water and 1 Tablespoons of sea salt.
Place almonds in a large bowl or pan and add salted water to cover.
Cover the bowl with cheesecloth (if needed) to keep out bugs.
Soak the almonds for 10-12 hours or up to 24 hours.
Rinse and drain.
Spread nuts evenly on a mesh sheet from your dehydrator. Set temperature for 115.
Dehydrate for 18 hours or more, till nuts are completely dry and have a nice crunch.
Allow to cool, store in labeled airtight container.
How to sprout almonds
Before sprouting almonds, it’s important you know the difference between sprouting and sprouts. Sprouts refer to seeds or grains that are soaked and then germinated over a period of several days to a week. The end result is delicious nutrient rich greens that are great in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.
Sprouted nuts, seeds, grains are soaked, but germinate for a shorter time period, anywhere from 1 to 3 days, or long enough for them to grow a tiny tail (1/8-1/4 inch tail). This helps make them more digestible and nutrient rich.
More Ways To Incorporate Almonds Into Your Diet
Health Benefits of Almonds & Three Recipes
Conscious eating Gabriel Cousens – North Atlantic Books – 2000 p. 763