The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree (Prunus Dulcis), a medium-size tree native to Middle East and South Asia that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. The fruit of the almond is a drupe that measures 3.5-6 cm. It consists of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed (which is not a true nut) inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are sold shelled, or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed to reveal the white embryo.
Best known for their use in the cosmetic industry, almonds are one of the most nutritious of all nuts and have several benefits for the human body. The almond is a nutritionally dense food and is a rich source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, and potassium as well as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds contain polyphenols in their skins consisting in a combination of flavonols, flavan-3-ols, hydroxybenzoic acids and flavanones analogous to those of certain fruits and vegetables.
The almond contains about 22% carbohydrates (12% dietary fiber, 6.3% sugars, 0.7% starch and the rest miscellaneous carbohydrates), and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and cookies (biscuits) for low-carbohydrate diets.
The following table shows almonds nutritional values.
|Almonds (Prunus dulcis),|
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle|| Nutrient Value|| Percentage of RDA|
|Energy|| 575 Kcal ||29%|
|Carbohydrates|| 21.67 g|| 16%|
|Protein ||21.22 g|| 38%|
|Total Fat|| 49.42 g ||165%|
|Cholesterol|| 0 mg|| 0%|
|Dietary Fiber ||12.20 g|| 30%|
|Folates ||50 µg|| 12.5%|
|Niacin ||3.385 mg ||21%|
|Pantothenic acid ||0.47 mg|| 9%|
|Pyridoxine ||0.143 mg|| 11%|
|Riboflavin ||1.014 mg ||78%|
|Thiamin|| 0.211 mg ||16%|
|Vitamin A ||1 IU ||0%|
|Vitamin C ||0 mg|| 0%|
|Vitamin E ||26 mg|| 173%|
|Sodium ||1 mg ||0%|
|Potassium ||705 mg|| 15%|
|Calcium|| 264 mg|| 26%|
|Copper|| 0.996 mg ||110%|
|Iron ||3.72 mg ||46.5%|
|Magnesium ||268 mg|| 67%|
|Manganese|| 2.285 mg ||99%|
|Phosphorus|| 484 mg ||69%|
|Selenium ||2.5 µg|| 4.5%|
|Zinc|| 3.08 mg|| 28%|
|Carotene-ß ||1 µg|| --|
|Crypto-xanthin-ß ||0 µg|| --|
|Lutein-zeaxanthin ||1 µg ||--|
Due to its wide variety of nutrients, it is not entirely without reason that almonds are the most priced kind of nuts. Their nutritive value as well as functional importance in keeping the human body supple, beautiful and healthy, is unsurpassed in the nut kingdom, if one may use the term.
Nearly cholesterol free and abundant in high quality, high absorbable protein, almonds provide almost no useless material to the body. Their monounsaturated fats (that fight bad cholesterol) and dietary fiber content make them easy to digest, provides heat in the body and also ensure no excess oils.
Here there is a list of almond benefits to health:
Lower LDL-Cholesterol and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Almonds are strong allies in arteries and veins health. They are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids that help to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol." Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols such as Beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, sitostanol, and campestanol, which have been associated with cholesterol-lowering properties. Studies revealed that a short-term almond-enriched diet can increase plasma α-tocopherol and improve vascular function in asymptomatic healthy men aged between 20 and 70 years without any effect on plasma lipids or markers of oxidative stress.
An almond-enriched diet increases plasma α-tocopherol and improves vascular function but does not affect oxidative stress markers or lipid levels. 2014
Observational studies and clinical trials have also suggested that nut consumption has beneficial effects on coronary heart disease and its intermediate biomarkers (blood cholesterol). In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds' ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds' monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease).
On the basis of these findings, the Food and Drug Administration concluded in 2003 that for most nuts, consumption of 43 g (1.5 oz) per day, as part of a low-fat diet, “may reduce the risk of heart disease”.
Combined effects of a dietary portfolio of plant sterols, vegetable protein, viscous fibre and almonds on LDL particle size. 2004
Help you losing weight thanks to their healthy fats and Lowers Risk of Weight Gain
Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. These popular nuts are actually low in calories with ten almonds costing you approximately 78 calories. Other than that they’re packed with useful nutrients like Vitamin E, mono-saturated fat (‘good’ fat) and fibre, which is highly satiating and provides bulk to food without adding calories. They are also full of B vitamins and zinc, which helps stop sugar cravings, plus the oleic oil in the nuts cuts hunger very quickly.
Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. 2003
Strengthens your bones
Almonds provide almost all the nutrients that help increase bone mineral density (Calcium, Vitamin E), making a strong skeletal system, needed by athletes, growing, pre-pubescent, children and of course, elderly people. This natural supply of nutrients (especially vitamin E) helps fighting the onslaught of osteoporosis in the elderly.
α-Tocopheryl Succinate is the ester form of vitamin E.
α-Tocopheryl Succinate Inhibits Osteoclast Formation by Suppressing Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kB Ligand (RANKL) Expression and Bone Resorption. 2012
Good for your gut
Furthermore almond and almond skin ingestion may lead to an improvement in the intestinal microbiota profile and a modification of the intestinal bacterial activities, which would induce the promotion of health beneficial factors and the inhibition of harmful factors. Thus almonds and almond skins are thought to possess potential prebiotic properties. Secondly, natural almond skin powder has shown evidence to have anti-inflammatory properties. Almond skin powder reduced NF-κB and p-JNK activation, the pro-inflammatory cytokines release, the appearance of i-NOS, nitrotyrosine and PARP in the colon and reduced the up-regulation of ICAM-1 and the expression of P-selectin.
Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. 2013
Natural almond skin reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease. 2011
Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. 2014
Almonds keep you young and beautiful
All along used as oil in cosmetic industry to combat rinks and stretch marks, almonds help the body against ageing and skin relaxation both from the outside and from the inside of our organism. Polyphenols contained in almond skin have strong antioxidant capacities and play the most important role in fighting the formation of free radicals. Almonds are a very good source of manganese and copper, two trace minerals that are essential cofactors of a key oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), thus keeping our energy flowing.
This antioxidant property of almond has also shown evidence to have some degree of photo protective effect against UVA.
The uses and properties of almond oil. 2009
Almond (Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb) skins as a potential source of bioactive polyphenols. 2007
Effect of pre-treatment of almond oil on ultraviolet B-induced cutaneous photo aging in mice. 2007
A pilot study of the photo protective effect of almond phytochemicals in a 3D human skin equivalent. 2013
Almonds reduce biomarkers of lipid peroxidation in older hyperlipidemic subjects. 2008
Because of the richness of nuts in bioactive components, particularly unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and minerals, a protective effect of nut intake on gallstone disease is biologically plausible. Two separate studies by the same authors, each on different populations, examined the relationship between frequency of nut intake and gallstone disease risk. After following 80,718 women for 20 years, the Nurses’ Health Study showed that frequent nut consumers (≥5/week) had a 25% reduced risk of cholecystectomy compared to non-consumers. Similar findings were observed among nearly 43,000 men in the Health Professional’s Follow-up study. During 457,305 person-years of follow-up, men who consumed 5 or more servings of nuts per week showed a risk of developing clinical gallstone disease that was 30% lower compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts. The results of the two studies suggest that frequent nut consumption is equally protective of gallstone disease in men and women.
Health benefits of nut consumption. 2010
Lower risk of cancer
Of all the newly discovered benefits of almonds, one of the most exciting is the potential they may have to reduce cancer risks. Many of the nutrients found in almonds are believed to have positive effects on several different types of cancer. Some bioactive constituents of nuts, such as tocopherols, phytosterols, folic acid, selenium, and magnesium, are purported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or anticarcinogenetic properties, a reason why a protective effect of nut consumption on cancer risk might be hypothesized. Old epidemiological evidence of the role of nut consumption on cancer incidence was inconclusive. More recent reports support a preventive role, although limited to women. A small case-control study in Greek women suggests that a diet rich in nuts, seeds and pulses reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by 27% compared to infrequent consumption of such foods. Results from the large EPIC study showed no relation between higher intake of nuts and seeds and risk of colorectal cancers in the whole cohort or in men alone, but an inverse association was detected in women between the highest quintile of nut consumption (>6.2 g/day) and the lowest quintile (non-consumers), with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.69 (CI, 0.50 to 0.95). A gender discrepancy in the risk of colorectal cancer associated with peanut consumption was also reported from a population-based cohort study of approximately 24,000 people in Taiwan. This study showed that women consuming peanuts had a remarkable risk reduction of 58% compared to non-consumers. However, the protective effect was not observed in men. A small clinical study in men at risk for prostate cancer showed increased serum γ-tocopherol and a trend towards an increase in the ratio of free prostate specific antigen (PSA): total PSA after eight weeks of a diet supplemented with 75 g walnuts per day compared with a control diet. Two recent experimental studies using human cancer cell lines and a mice model of human breast cancer suggest an antiproliferative effect of walnuts. Clearly, more research is necessary on the important topic of nuts and cancer.
Health benefits of nut consumption. 2010
Whole almonds and almond fractions reduce aberrant crypt foci in a rat model of colon carcinogenesis. 2001
Almonds may cause allergy or intolerance. Cross-reactivity is common with tree nut allergens. Symptoms range from local symptoms (e.g., oral allergy syndrome, contact urticaria) to systemic symptoms including anaphylaxis (e.g., urticaria, angioedema, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms).
Almond allergens: molecular characterization, detection, and clinical relevance. 2012
For non-allergic people, a small daily amount of almonds seems to be an elixir of long life. Observational and intervention studies of nut consumption have shown reductions in various mediators of chronic diseases, including oxidative stress, inflammation, visceral adiposity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction. In prospective cohort studies, increased nut intake has been associated with reduced risks of type 2 diabetes mellitus, the metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, hypertension, gallstone disease, diverticulitis, and death from inflammatory diseases.
Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. 2013