The crispy and fragrant almonds are the most popular tree nuts worldwide, being incorporated in many customary recipes across countries, continents and cuisines. Apart from its mild earthy fragrance and crusty texture, the almond nut supplies a host of health benefits for heart, brain, skin, hair and digestive health, making it a wholesome breakfast food and a nutritious evening snack. Also Check Out: 5 Incredible Nuts To Boost Your Heart Health - Infographic

Almonds are scientifically termed as Prunus dulcis or Prunus amygdalis, belonging to the family Rosaceae. In India, these aromatic nuts are locally called “Badam” in Hindi, as well as in many other regional languages of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Marathi and Kannada.

The almond tree is native to Iran and southern Asian countries namely Thailand, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. Almond grows best in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. However, due to the fantastic health benefits that almonds confer for human health, the plant is extensively propagated and cultivated in warmer parts of North America, Australia and several nations around the globe.

almond tree

The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are long with a serrated margin and petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring.

The fruit of the almond is a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed, which is not a true nut, inside. This is the edible part of the almond tree, which is widely consumed all over the world in the form of raw nuts, roasted or salted snacks and even processed to synthesize almond flour and almond oil, to be used in cooking and cosmetic purposes.

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Almond Nutritional Content:

Almonds also portray an impressive nutritional profile, being low on sodium and cholesterol, fostering heart health and serving as a natural solution for weight loss, hair fall and many other common health concerns.

Almonds provide instant energy, being high on calories. They are also rich in proteins and fibers to facilitate digestion. Moreover, they are a storehouse of key trace minerals including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for robust bones, zinc for improved skin health and iron for normal red blood cell synthesis.

The following is the nutritional content in a 100 g serving of almonds, as per the nutrient database published by the U.S.D.A - United States Department of Agriculture.

Calories 579

Macronutrients:

Total Fat 64 %

Saturated Fat 19 %

Total Carbohydrate 8 %

Dietary Fiber 46 %

Sugar 10%

Protein 42 %

Micronutrients:

Calcium 21 %

Iron 21 %

Potassium 16 %

Copper 115 %

Magnesium 68 %

Manganese 95 %

Phosphorus 69 %

Potassium 16 %

Selenium 7 %

Zinc 28 %

Almond Health Benefits:

almond nut benefits

Improves Digestive Health

Soaked almonds can make your food digest smoother and faster by facilitating the entire digestive procedure. The external layer of the nut contains a certain enzyme inhibitor which, when steeped in water, is released due to the presence of moisture. It activates the seeds, makes them easily digestible and allows people to get the maximum nutrition. Soaked almonds also release the lipid-breaking enzyme ‘lipase’, which works on the fat present in the food and ensures a healthy digestive system.

Supplements Pregnancy Nutrition Needs

Almonds are a wonderful food for both the mother and baby’s health. As the moisture increases the availability of the nutrients present in the drupes, they provide the ultimate nourishment and energy to both the would-be mother as well as the fetus. Furthermore, the folic acid in almonds, essential for optimal health, makes the delivery of the baby trouble-free and helps the newborn stay away from any birth-defect.

Promotes Brain Function

Scientists have proved that the intake of 4 to 6 soaked almonds a day can serve the purpose of a brain food and boost the functionality of the Central Nervous System (CNS) to a great extent. Almonds do improve the brain function. Being full of essential fats, these can sharpen the memory and improve the intelligence of growing kids significantly.

Reduces Cholesterol Levels

Almonds immersed in water can reduce your cholesterol levels to a great extent. Basically, they are loaded with Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA), which lower the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in your bloodstream. The vitamin E content of the nuts is also helpful in fighting against LDL and raising the level of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) in the body. Also Read: Simple Lifestyle Changes To Control Cholesterol

Supports Heart Health

By keeping your cholesterol levels under control with soaked almonds, you can maintain your heart health. They are good sources of protein, potassium, and magnesium, which are necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system. Apart from these, almonds are full of vitamin E which, being an antioxidant vitamin, combats several fatal heart diseases.

Normalizes Blood Pressure Levels

Acute hypertension can also be treated by eating soaked almonds. The low sodium and high potassium content of the nuts can prevent your blood pressure from escalating. Also, magnesium and folic acid present in the seeds are helpful in lowering the chances of coronary artery disease.

Suitable For Diabetic Diet

Soaked almonds are a wonderful natural remedy for treating diabetes mellitus. They help to keep your blood sugar level under control and stay away from the severe complications of diabetes such as clogged arteries, obesity and excessive tiredness.

Aids In Weight Loss

Making almonds a part of your daily diet helps in weight loss. In fact, there are very few chemical or organic compounds that can promote weight loss like soaked almonds. Being loaded with monounsaturated fat, they satisfy your craving for food and help you shed additional bodyweight.

Treats Constipation

Those who suffer from chronic constipation can also benefit by consuming soaked almonds. The nut is full of insoluble fibers, which increase the amount of roughage in your body and help you get rid of the problem.

Almond Uses For Skin And Hair:

almond oil

Natural Moisturiser

Soaked almonds can be mashed and applied to the skin as a natural moisturizer. If your skin is dry, you can mix some whipped cream with the almonds and use the mask every day. It would nourish your skin and hydrate it sufficiently. The incredible benefits of almonds will ensure soft, supple and smooth skin.

Repairs Damaged Skin

If you want to improve your skin tone and regain your lost glow, soaked almonds can help you a lot. It repairs the damaged skin tissues internally and accelerates the formation of new cells. Hence, the tone and texture of your skin are enhanced considerably.

Confers Anti-Aging Benefits

Ageing can easily be prevented with soaked almonds. Vitamin E and other antioxidants present in these nuts can eliminate the harmful free radicals from your body. As a result, the anti-ageing benefits of almonds are immense, with ageing process getting delayed and you remain younger-looking for a longer period.

Conditions Hair

Soak a few almonds in water overnight, mash them the next morning and finally, prepare a hair mask by mixing a fair amount of olive oil with it. Apply it on your scalp and hair every day. It is a wonderful natural conditioner that can give you smooth and healthy hair. Also Read: 7 Incredible Hair Growth Tips For Healthy, Long And Lustrous Tresses

Prevents Hair Fall

Almonds are highly nutritive. Therefore, eating soaked almonds or using its paste on the scalp can nourish your hair and make it stronger. It also repairs severe hair damage, reduces frequent hair fall and helps in the growth of new hair follicles.

Almond In Ayurveda:

The time-tested Indian practice of medicine - Ayurveda boasts of the umpteen health merits that almonds offer, for both physical and mental wellbeing.  The ancient Ayurvedic scholars claimed that these seeds were effective in treating anxiety and depression, remedying anaemia, as well as controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes. Myriad herbal concoctions were prepared using almond extracts and used as plant-based medicine, which have been utilised to heal heart, brain, skin and hair problems since time immemorial.

Effect On Doshas:

Almond has a madhura rasa (sweet taste) with intrinsically laghu and ruksha gunas (light and dry qualities). It possesses ushna virya (heating potency), balancing the kapha (earth and water) dosha (element) while excessively influencing pitta (fire and water) and vata (air and ether) doshas. Moreover, it fosters the positive and equalizing states of mind namely sattva and rajas, effectively eliminating tamas or a negative mindset.

Almond Therapeutic Uses:

Relieves Anemia

Almonds possess noteworthy levels of iron, besides many powerful antioxidants that increase the flow of blood to the organs within the system. It is thus very effective in treating iron-deficiency anaemia.

Soak 10 almonds in water overnight. Remove the skin and grind them to a paste. Eating this paste daily for 1 month vastly improves symptoms of anaemia such as fatigue, dizziness and persistent migraines.

Calms Anxiety Symptoms

Due to its potent sattva and rajas nature, almonds are an ideal way to boost low moods and bring about a sense of peace and harmony to a troubled, depressed mind.

Combine 2 teaspoons of almond oil and 1 teaspoon of rose oil and inhale the essence, to immediately experience relief from any anxiety, fear and worry.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Almonds are blessed with the goodness of dietary fibers, plant flavonoids and proteins, which regulate metabolism and digestion, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

To a few teaspoons of powdered almonds, add a pinch of nutmeg and dry ginger powder and consume with warm water every day in the morning, to maintain normal blood glucose levels in the body. Also Read: Importance Of Self-Monitoring Blood Sugar

Almond Recipes:

The versatile nature of the almond nut, coupled with its crunchiness and uplifting aroma, makes it very easy to effortlessly incorporate it into different kinds of recipes, ranging from continental pastries to traditional Indian desserts and curries. Almonds can be used for culinary purposes, in the form of raw or mildly fried nuts, ground into flour, or as almond milk.

Badami Paneer Masala

This indulgent gravy with soft paneer cubes and a creamy, spiced up badam gravy is sure to tantalize the taste buds of every single person in your family.

badami paneer

Ingredients:

½ cup almonds, blanched

1 cup paneer, softened and cut into cubes

3 tbsp malai (heavy cream)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small capsicum, cut into pieces

2 medium tomatoes

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp dhania powder (coriander)

1 tsp turmeric powder

Salt, to taste

1 tsp dried, crushed kasoori methi (fenugreek)

1 tbsp ghee

Method:

Grind the blanched almonds into a fine flour.

Prepare a slightly thick tomato paste in a mixer, adding very little water.

Heat some ghee in a kadai on medium flame, add the ginger-garlic paste, onion and capsicum and sauté for a few minutes.

Transfer the almond flour and tomato paste onto the kadai, add some water and stir continuously to form a uniform paste.

Nicely mix in the malai with this paste.

Add required amount of salt, along with garam masala, dhania powder, turmeric powder and cook for 5 – 10 minutes on low flame, so as to allow the flavours to blend in.

Switch off the flame, pour in the paneer cubes into the spiced almond-tomato gravy.

Garnish with some fresh kasoori methi and serve hot with rotis, parathas, kulchas.

Nutrition:

This delectable almond-based fiery north Indian side dish is ideal for diabetics, as almonds have an extremely low glycemic index. Moreover, almonds, otherwise known as badams abound in vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, a critical nutrient for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, fats to ATP molecules, in order to meet the body’s energy requirements. The soft, rich paneer cubes contain immense quantities of calcium, to strengthen bones, teeth, as well as dairy proteins, to aid in digestion and weight loss. Also Read: Pack your Protein Punch with Paneer

Badam Kulfi

This is a very popular and delicious summer-time dessert that originated in North India and is widely available across the country. Relish it on festivals and special occasions, or simply whip it up as a sweet treat after meals, to impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.

badami kulfi

Ingredients:

3 cups milk

¼ cup sugar

20 – 25 almonds

2 tsp elaichi powder (cardamom)

A few strands of kesar (saffron)

Method:

Dry roast the almonds in a small pan and set aside.

Boil the milk in a vessel on medium flame, constantly stirring to prevent curdling.

Lower the flame, add the sugar, saffron strands to the milk and keep mixing slowly.

Finely slice the roasted almonds and blend it into the condensed milk, along with elaichi powder.

Switch off the stove, allow the mixture to cool down a bit, pour it into long, inverted cylindrical moulds and freeze.

Leave it in the fridge overnight and enjoy frozen, delightful badam kulfi for dessert post-lunch the next day.

Nutrition:

Almonds possess noteworthy amounts of useful monounsaturated fats, which enhance heart health by reducing bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, eating foods with a few badam nuts regularly helps in normalizing blood pressure, as they supply adequate potassium, an important trace mineral for cardiac muscle function. Elaichi is a powerhouse of vitamin C and antimicrobial compounds, which significantly improve immunity and fight bad breath. Also Read: Elaichi: Marvellous Health Benefits Of This Aromatic Spice

Almond Side Effects:

Eating around 5 – 7 whole almonds every day, either raw or roasted, is generally digested smoothly by most people. Although, in case a person suffers from heart ailments, it is advised to not consume salted almonds.

Like all foods, overeating almonds on a regular basis will certainly lead to health issues.

Almonds are inherently high in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. An overdose of vitamin E in the body triggers complications including headaches, diarrhoea and blurred vision.

Manganese is needed for healthy bones, metabolism and blood clotting and almonds comprise ample amounts of the same. Nevertheless, ingesting too many almonds results in the accumulation of toxic levels of this mineral, which interferes with certain prescription drugs that a person might be taking, such as antibiotics and blood pressure medications.

Taking in too many almonds in just one day invariably causes gastrointestinal issues like abdominal bloating and constipation, as the body cannot properly process the high amounts of biochemical compounds in such as a great volume of nuts.

Conclusion:

The almond tree offers countless amazing health benefits, ranging from augmenting heart functions and easing digestion, to enriching skin texture and alleviating stress and anxiety. Its kernel or nut can be consumed raw, seasoned with salt and spices, or ground into flour and used in the preparation of sweet and savoury recipes. In addition, almond oil confers superb advantages for hair growth, while the essential oil is a great natural remedy for promoting brain activity, memory and concentration.

In summary, almonds are indeed a superfood, which when consumed in moderate portions and added in regular diet, helps steer clear of any side effects and offers numerous wellness incentives for better overall health.