By Edeline Anne Goh
Did you know that the almond tree is a cousin of the peach, cherry and apricot tree? Just like its cousins, the almond tree bears fruits and beautiful fragrant flowers but what we enjoy most is definitely the seed of the fruit, which is known as the almond nut.
This tear-shaped seed, which has a brown hue, is packed with all sorts of nutrients that can benefit your health. This is why we often come across this seed in healthy cereals, muesli and salads. Aside from its health benefits, the almond nut also has a delightful flavour, which explains its popularity as an ingredient in various sweet treats.
Here are some of the key benefits of almonds that can help to improve your health — both physically and mentally.
Improve Your Heart Health
Need a simple way to improve your heart health? We’ve got an answer for you – almonds! According to research, snacking on a handful of almonds everyday will go a long way toward protecting and strengthening your heart. The nutrients in almonds are linked to reducing incidences of heart disease as they are believed to help decrease blood sugar spikes after a high carbohydrate meal.
Did you know that munching on almonds can help to relieve stress? The almond’s stress busting nutrients — such as vitamin B and E — work well to help you relieve tension in your nerves. All you need is a quarter cup of almonds, which is more than enough to chase anxiety away. So, the next time you’ve got an important presentation coming up or if your boss is giving you a hard time, have some almonds and don’t forget to take a few deep breaths along with it for even better results!
Ever wish you could indulge in foods that make you feel satisfied without the high carbohydrate content? According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, chewing on almonds is believed to increase the feeling of fullness. However, the key is to chew 25 to 40 times before swallowing. Feeling sated stops you from reaching for that bag of chips and it is an effective way to tackle overeating, which can quickly lead to obesity.
Almonds are one of the richest sources of calcium around. Calcium is essential for growth and to maintain strong bones and teeth. Besides dairy products, there are many other ways to obtain calcium and almonds are one of them. So, if you are allergic to dairy products, almonds can provide you the calcium you need. In fact, just about 14 grams of almonds gives you about 37 grams of calcium according Harvard University Health Services. This small amount can easily be incorporated into your daily diet.
Various studies have shown that almonds have an antioxidant content as high as many fruits and vegetables. Foods rich in antioxidants are now a popular choice as they eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are known to promote cancer, speed up the ageing process and are the cause of many other chronic diseases. So, now you can add this wonderful nut to your list of favourite antioxidant-rich foods.
You don’t have to eat them to enjoy their benefits. Almonds are just as good when applied topically on your body. They’re a great moisturising agent that can heal scars. Almonds can also relieve muscle aches and that’s why you can often find almond oil incorporated in many beauty products.
If you’ve yet to discover the many wonders of the almond nut, you should definitely get to know it better. You might be surprised at how fast you’ll learn to love it!
How to enjoy almonds
Almonds can be easily obtained in most supermarkets all year round. They are available in many forms and sizes from ground almonds to whole seeds. The best way is to eat them raw without a coating. You can also enjoy the various benefits of almonds in other forms such as almond milk, almond jelly or almond butter.