Sweet Almonds: Health Benefits & Nutritional Properties
What are sweet almonds good for? Do they have any beneficial health affecting qualities? The purpose of this article is to answer these questions by providing an overview of the health benefits and nutritional properties of sweet almonds (Prunus dulcis var. dulcis). You will learn that sweet almonds, whether eaten raw or roasted, can help lower LDL-cholesterol levels, heal the heart, improve insulin sensitivity, protect the skin from wrinkling and pre-mature aging, prevent magnesium deficiency, and alleviate asthma symptoms. The health benefits of almonds are largely attributable to nutrients like fiber, vitamin E (an important antioxidant), unsaturated fatty acids, phytosterols, magnesium, and potassium.
Note that this article focuses on the benefits of eating whole almonds – if you're interested in almond oil instead, then check out the article Health Benefits of Almond Oil.
Almonds May Help Treat and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes
By incorporating sweet almonds into your diet you may be able to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, research suggests. An almond-study published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2010 investigated the effects of an almond-enriched diet on the progression of type 2 diabetes (also known as adult onset diabetes) and cardiovascular disease in adults with pre-diabetes.
The 16-week study involved 65 participants who were divided into either a group consuming an almond-enriched healthy diet or a control group consuming a regular healthy diet. In the test group, 20% of the calories came from almonds.
The researchers found that the test group showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and significant reductions in LDL-cholesterol as compared to the control group. Nutrients like fiber, unsaturated fat, potassium, and phytosterols are believed to be largely responsible for almonds' cholesterol-lowering properties and their positive effects on insulin sensitivity.
Sweet Almonds Protect the Skin from Pre-Mature Aging
Free radicals are oxygen molecules that react easily with other molecules. Due to their reactivity, these unstable molecules can cause irreversible damage to the skin, resulting in wrinkles and fine lines. Free radicals are formed in the body as a result of exposure to pollution and UV rays, but they are also created during normal metabolism.
Antioxidants are health benefiting molecules with strong free radical scanvenging properties. Therefore, foods rich in antioxidants should be an integral part of any anti-wrinkle diet plan. Sweet almonds are one of the most concentrated and healthiest sources of vitamin E which is known for its strong antioxidant properties. A small handful of sweet almonds (corresponding to 28 grams or 1 ounce of almonds) delivers 6.9 milligrams of vitamin E, which is more than a third of the recommended daily value for vitamin E.
Besides being a good nutritional source of wrinkle-fighting vitamin E, sweet almonds provide healthy, unsaturated fats that help moisturize the skin from the inside out. Almonds also provide protein which is crucial for maintaining youthful skin: a sufficient intake of protein helps your body produce collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are fibers that give your skin support and elasticity.
Sweet Almonds Are a Superb Source of Magnesium
Sweet almonds are cram-full of magnesium, with 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw almonds providing almost 20% of the recommended daily intake for this important macromineral. Magnesium is vital for the proper functioning of the entire human body, but it is particularly important for the heart, muscles and kidneys. It also helps your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy and contributes to energy production. In addition, foods rich in magnesium are commonly recommended to people who follow an anti-asthma diet plan as magnesium has been shown to improve lung function and reduce wheezing in some asthmatic individuals.
A serious magnesium deficiency is rare in Western countries. Nevertheless, many people following a Western diet are not getting enough magnesium and can therefore benefit from eating more almonds and other magnesium containing foods. Western diets are typically rich in processed foods, and modern day food processing can strip away a large portion of magnesium. Also intensive farming depletes the soil of magnesium.