Monday, January 29, 2007

Health Benefits Of Almonds

What Are Almonds Good For?
By Charles Browne

AlmondsThe almond, which we think of as a nut, is actually the seed of the fruit from the almond tree. The almond is related to the peach, but the fruit toughens into a leathery coat, called the hull, which contains the shell and the edible kernel. Unlike the peach pit, the almond kernel is not only edible, but also quite nutritious.

Almonds are high in health-promoting monounsaturated fats. These fats are beneficial for healthy hair, skin, and nails. But don't be too concerned about almond consumption leading to a high-fat diet; it is believed that not all of the fat in almonds is absorbed. A study, from King's College in London, showed that the cell walls of almonds may influence the body's absorption of the fat in almonds. When eating almonds, chewing appears to break down only some of the cell walls, leaving some of the almond intact, so that not all of the fat was released for digestion. Almonds are also low in calorie density, which means you get a larger portion size with a fewer number of calories (eat more, gain less). But don't go overboard; anything eaten in excess can lead to health problems. The most widely recommended intake of almonds is one ounce per day.

Almonds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, phosphorus, vitamins E and B2. They are also loaded with other vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Furthermore, like all nuts, almonds provide one of the best plant sources of protein. Almonds have been used to treat iron deficiency, menopause, pain and for cancer prevention. The beneficial fats and fibre in almonds are believed to help prevent heart disease. One study showed almonds to be almost twice as effective at lowering cholesterol levels than oatmeal.

With all the health benefits, as well as great taste of almonds, it's no wonder that producers turn out over two million tonnes yearly.

About the Author
Charles Browne is a research writer for an online encyclopaedia concerning herbs and other healing foods used in nutritional healing and disease prevention.

Picture: Almonds (Danielle Keller)

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