Among the many options available for a healthy human diet, the almond represents one of the top superfoods chosen by many who seek a healthy lifestyle. This crunchy, tasty seed provides a variety of vitamins, minerals, and essential fats that contribute to individual health while whittling the waistline. In addition to its many health benefits, there are beauty benefits as well, as almonds are the basis for a number of popular skin care items.
With their delicate flavor and year-round availability, almonds are increasingly popular with people who seek delicious, readily available snacks without the guilt. Technically, this nut is a seed inside the fruit of an almond tree and is a cousin to the cherry, peach, and apricot. Its trees are medium in stature and have beautifully scented white and pink flowers on the fruit that contains the almond nut.
The almond has many vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy diet. Just a single serving contains more than 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E, nearly 18 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin B2, as well as significant amounts of biotin, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
The Vitamin E Effect
With such a high concentration of the antioxidant vitamin E, experts believe almonds could have the capacity to help reduce the risk of heart disease in many men and women. Many people know vitamin E is an essential part of a healthy diet. The reason is simple: this vitamin is a potent antioxidant that protects the body from cell damage.
This is critical for good health because cell damage can accelerate many age-related diseases. Most people in the U.S. do not get enough vitamin E necessary for a healthy lifestyle, so adding almonds high in this essential nutrient to your diet can be critically important to staying healthy.
High in Fat, Good for Health
Most people know to stay away from high fat foods that can contribute to health problems such as obesity and heart disease, but there truly is such a thing as good fat. Much like olive oil, almonds are high in “good” fat, or monounsaturated fats, that are clearly associated with reducing heart disease risk.
Recent epidemiological studies show a significant link between nut consumption and lower heart disease risk – as much as 45 percent in some cases. Other studies show a diet rich in nutrient-rich foods such as almonds can go a long way toward lowering LDL cholesterol levels, yet another benefit of this incredible superfood.
Additional Health Benefits
Because almonds are high in magnesium, consumption could improve blood and oxygen flow, which also means nutrients travel more quickly to areas in the body where they are most needed. Like vitamin E, most people do not get enough magnesium in their diet and should seek out foods to supplement their intake.
By getting enough magnesium, people can help prevent bone loss that happens as part of the aging process. Studies show magnesium also has a role in maintaining a healthy nervous system, controlling blood sugar levels and managing inflammatory diseases and conditions.
Potassium is also plentiful in almonds, with 162 mg in a single serving. This is yet another essential element for maintaining optimal heart health, as potassium plays a key role in muscle activity around the heart as well as in nerve transmission. Other vitamins and minerals found in the almond help prevent gallstones, keep blood pressure at a manageable level, and could even prevent cancer, according to some researchers.
Almonds in skin care
Because almonds are so high in protein, they are often used in high quality skin care products. Many use almond oil because of its sustainability and its unique combination of fatty acids that contribute to healthy skin. The vitamin E in almonds is also why it’s used in cosmetic products, since it can protect the skin from damage due to the aging process.
Because it is so light, almond oil is often used in eye makeup removers – especially for people with sensitive skin. The oil effectively removes mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow without leaving streaks or irritating the eye. After makeup is removed, the oil can be massaged into the skin near the eye to safely moisturize this delicate area.
Almond face scrubs are also popular to gently remove dead cells on the surface of the skin, leaving your face looking radiant and healthy. While some people choose to make their own almond scrubs, there are a variety of manufactured scrubs and other almond-based skin care products available for all skin types.
The Weight Loss Factor
With so many Americans falling into the obesity trap, almonds could be the answer for some struggling dieters. Increasingly, research shows low calorie diets that include foods high in monounsaturated fats can have a significant impact on weight loss efforts. Some people mistakenly avoid nuts like almonds because they believe they will cause weight gain, but the opposite is true.
Adding Almonds to a Healthy Diet
There are more ways to add almonds to your diet in addition to simply grabbing a handful as a healthy snack. Popular options to consider include:
Replace cow’s milk with almond milk. Its slightly sweet flavor is a huge hit with kids and tastes wonderful as an additive for your morning coffee.
Use almond butter. Spread almond butter on a celery stick for a delicious, low calorie snack anytime. Or, consider spreading it on a bagel or toast for a healthy breakfast option. Almond butter can also be spread on whole grain bread for a healthy lunchbox alternative to peanut butter sandwiches.
Try sprinkling nuts on top of yogurt instead of regular granola, or add it to breakfast cereal for a delicious addition to the meal. Thinly sliced almonds are also perfect for adding flair and flavor to roasted green beans, asparagus, zucchini, and other vegetables.
Add almonds as a crunchy topping for a salad.
Use sliced almonds to jazz up chicken salad. Some people use both almonds and grapes; the contrasting texture and flavor make a terrific combination.
Add almond butter to a breakfast shake. This not only adds protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins, but it can also add a significant amount of flavor.