The Health Benefits of Almonds
A Nutty Antidote to Common Health Woes
by Kim Fay
the Prunus genus, the almond is the odd man out.
It is a dry little kernel, whose kin include fleshy peaches and plums — those lush crops associated with the bountiful summer
months. Yet this nutty fruit should not be underestimated.
It is essential to traditions around the globe, and its
bang for the buck health benefits put it at the top of the
preventative medicine food chain.
clinical trial published by the American Heart Association
showed that a daily ounce of almonds significantly lowers
the body's LDL ("bad") cholesterol. This same
one-ounce serving also showcases the low carb nut's nutritional
density, providing doses of vitamin E, magnesium, fiber,
monounsaturated fat, protein and iron all in a mere 160
calories. Women will be happy to know it contributes to
folic acid and calcium intake.
with approximately 750,000 acres of almond trees, California is the
world's largest cultivator, but the almond's journey from
its source in ancient China to the health-happy Golden State
took centuries. It first traveled the Silk Road to the Mediterranean
and Middle East, and Franciscan padres brought it from Spain to Santa Barbara in the mid-1700s. One of the world's earliest
cultivated foods — harvesting
dates back to at least 3000 BCE — the
almond symbolizes female beauty in China and represents
good fortune during the Christmas holidays in Scandinavia.
A packet of five almonds, signifying health, wealth, happiness,
fertility and longevity, is passed out to guests as a good
luck favor at Italian weddings. There is even a rumor that
eating almonds before a boozy night out will help keep you
Almond Health Benefits:
- Source of calcium, vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium
- Nutritionally dense
- May improve weight loss in low-calorie diets
- May reduce risk of heart disease
- Rich in monounsaturated fat, and daily intake may lower cholesterol
- Low in carbohydrates
- Essential oil serves as an emollient
are considered a folk remedy for cancer, but have a dark
side, too — bitter almonds contain Prussic acid, a form
of cyanide, and eating too many can be fatal. As for the
sweet version, the possibilities are endless. Whether raw,
salted or sugared (in marzipan or Almond Roca) or transformed
into essential oil for skin treatments and massages, the
almond is one of nature's most versatile — and
valuable — fruits.
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