Jan 06 , 2022
Is it a nut???...is it a seed???....ITS SUPERFOOD!!!! This humble hero which many of us understand to be a nut, is actually a seed…and a very potent one at that.
Our dear almond friend, has been a part of our homes and hearts for as long as time itself. Thus it has found its way into gravies, mithais, extracts for skin and hair etc. It also graces the beauty of our traditional sweets during festivals. Ornaments are made using whole almonds to decorate deities in Hindu temples, on special occasions and festivals.
It is an important constituent of the famous Thandai drink and the not so famous Bhaang which is relished by some during the Holi festivals.
Our first interaction with this super food was when Nani would make us have them first thing in the mornings on an empty stomach. She would painstakingly and lovingly soak 5 for each one of us before she retired for the night; it was her firm faith in this traditional knowledge that almonds were good for hearth in more ways than one.
Almonds and their health benefits have been researched exhaustively by the scientific community, more aggressively in the past decade. The global Obedemic(obesity epidemic), has left researchers scurrying for answers, in healthier, low carbohydrate options.
To start with almonds bring to the table a healthier option for dietary fat, high fiber, and good amounts of Vitamin E ( a powerful anti oxidant that helps lower blood cholesterol levels- bad cholesterol like LDL and VLDL), and boost good cholesterol(HDL).
The Indian Council of Medical Research conducted a study in 4 regions which observed that peanuts, walnuts and almond consumption reduced the risk of breast cancer in women by 2 to 3 times-2015 (The protective effect of peanuts, walnuts and almonds on the development of breast cancer- SORIANO Hernandez A D et al).
As Indians, our genetic make up makes us more prone to cardiac complications, cardiac diseases are responsible for 28% of deaths in India. Thus we need to understand what changes we can make at our end to help ourselves on our journey to good sustained healthy living.
- Almonds help in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Their lower glycemic index and greater fiber content help stabilize blood glucose and thereby insulin levels in the blood. A sense of satiety is achieved on consuming almonds due to the presence of fiber and healthy fats. Studies in 2010, also suggest that consuming almonds may help increase insulin sensitivity in people with pre diabetes. June 2010- Journal of the American College of Nutrition 29(3): 189-97. Also almonds are high in magnesium, and experimental studies have shown that dietary magnesium intake may reduce a persons risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- We Indians are blessed with access to early morning sunlight for most parts of the year. Yes!! Even in metro cities, a nearby walk or a short cycling expedition to a close by park, garden or the beach can help our body synthesize precious vitamin D. This coupled with calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, Vitamin K, protein and zinc from almonds can guarantee healthy, strong bones.
- Almonds are an excellent source of Vitamin E. Apart from being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin E is very important for good hair and skin. Thus it finds its way into commercial products for the same. Along with Vitamin B 6, it also helps bioavailability of proteins to brain cells.
- Vitamin E in almonds helps cognitive decline( Alzheimer’s), and protects memory. Almonds are a great source of L Carnitine, that helps promote new brain cells. Phenylalanine(protein found in plant sources) in almonds help improve memory and cognitive function. The perfect balance of essential fats Omega 3 and 6 found in almonds help brain development.
- Soaked almonds release a fat breaking enzyme called as Lipase that is known to work on the fats present in the food and thus help the body’s digestive system.. The potassium and riboflavin in almonds enhance the body’s metabolism and boost energy levels. Soaked almonds are relatively higher in potassium and lower in sodium which aids in lowering blood pressure.
Nani was right in having us consume soaked almonds as children. Considering all its health benefits, now makes me want to reconnect with that ritual again.
Almonds are a healthy alternative for those looking for a low glycemic, high fiber replacement. Almond milk is an excellent option for those who have lactose intolerance. These seeds are a good to carry snack, are high on taste and extremely healthy. I highly recommend at least 2 fistfuls of unsalted, non fried almonds per day(in small installments of 3 to 4 helpings).
From the bitterness of disease, man learns the sweetness of health- Catalan proverb.