Health benefits

Almonds provide high quality, highly absorbable protein. Protein quality is measured by the number of essential or indispensable amino acids provided and by the digestibility of the protein.

All protein, with the exception of gelatin, contains all of the essential or indispensable, amino acids. However, some protein sources are low in one or more IAA, making that source incomplete from the standpoint of meeting biological requirements. This is referred to the limiting amino acid. Meaning, when the recommended level of protein is consumed in the form of a protein that has a limiting amino acid, then the biological requirement for the limiting amino acid is not met. This is generally referred to as an incomplete protein.

Almonds Are a Nutrient Dense Protein Source

Almonds are a unique package of nutrients – a good source of protein (6 grams per one ounce) along with dietary fiber, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and vitamin E. In fact, one ounce of almonds provides about 7.4 grams of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, 50 percent of the RDA. Almonds are the only good source of protein that is also an excellent source of vitamin E.

As a protein, almonds are rich in arginine and low in lysine. Research indicates that diets rich in arginine, low in lysine are thought to reduce the risk of coronary disease. Almonds are an ideal source of arginine in the absence of lysine, hence reducing the likelihood of competing amino acids. Also, research indicates that eating a mixed diet that includes almonds and other protein sources can provide lysine in adequate and balanced quantities.

Traditionally, plant proteins have been regarded as inferior to animal protein. In the past, experts have expressed concern over the use of plant sources of protein. Current knowledge indicates that plant-based proteins are incomplete or are missing at least one of the indispensable amino acids. However, research suggests that an overall mixed diet provides the complementary spectrum of amino acids. So almonds as part of a healthy diet rich in a variety of foods contribute to the overall protein quality of the diet and provide complete and high quality protein.

Almonds and Dietary Fiber

Emerging research demonstrates that the combination of dietary fiber with protein contributes to overall satiety and therefore may play a role in controlling caloric intake. Most protein sources do not provide dietary fiber such as is found in almonds. Peanut butter, cheese and eggs, for example, are good sources of protein but do not supply dietary fiber.

Lower LDL-Cholesterol and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

A high-fat food that’s good for your health? That’s not an oxymoron, its almonds. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease.

In addition to the cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamina E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). When almonds are substituted for more traditional fats in human feeding trials, LDL cholesterol can be reduced from 8 to 12%.

In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains almost 99 mg of magnesium (that’s 24.7% of the daily value for this important mineral), plus 257 mg of potassium.

Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.

Potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart, is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Almonds promote your cardiovascular health by providing 257 mg of potassium and only 0.3 mg of sodium, making almonds an especially good choice to in protecting against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Almonds Provide Double-Barreled Protection against Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

Lessening after-meal surges in blood sugar helps protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease, most likely by lessening the increase in cholesterol-damaging free radicals that accompanies large elevations in blood sugar. This is one reason why low- glycemic index diets result in lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result.

Medicinal action and uses

Fresh sweet almonds possess demulcent and nutrient properties, but as the outer brown skin sometimes causes irritation of the alimentary canal, they are blanched by removal of this skin when used for food. Though pleasant to the taste, their nutritive value is diminished unless well masticated, as they are difficult of digestion, and may in some cases induce nettlerash and feverishness. They have a special dietetic value, for besides containing about 20 per cent of proteids, they contain practically no starch, and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.

When Almonds are pounded in water, the oil unites with the fluid, forming a milky juice – Almond Milk – a cooling, pleasant drink, which is prescribed as a diluent in acute diseases, and as a substitute for animal milk: an ounce of Almonds is sufficient for a quart of water, to which gum arabic is in most cases a useful addition. The pure oil mixed with a thick mucilage of gum arabic, forms a more permanent emulsion; one part of gum with an equal quantity of water being enough for four parts of oil. Almond emulsions possess in a certain degree the emollient qualities of the oil, and have this advantage over the pure oil, that they may be given in acute or inflammatory disorders without danger of the ill effects which the oil might sometimes produce by turning rancid.

Sources: Botanical, Former Fat Guy

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