Almond: Benefits and Side Effects

Almonds are the seed of the almond tree. It has many benefits, and very few side effects, which is why it is often recommended.

While almonds are often classifies as nuts, and even sometimes as dry fruits, in reality they are neither. In fact, almonds are a seed. Almonds, at least the ones that we are commonly used to, are the shelled seed of the almond tree. They are also often sold unshelled. This shell is actually called a hull, which is a ‘reticulated, hard, woody shell’, similar to a peach pit. Actually, almond trees are scientifically classified as part of the same subgenus as the peach, meaning they are close family.

So, the almond seed is covered by the hull, which in turn is covered by the almond fruit. The fruit is grey-green in color and has a thick leathery texture. While the fruit is edible, it is not that popular. The stripped and shelled seed is where the money is. It is commonly eaten as it, or roasted and salted. However, a variety of products are also created from it, such as flour, oils, extracts, essences, etc. Almonds are also used in many foods and desserts around the world.

Also, a less known fact about almonds: Wild almonds are bitter and contain cyanide. Eating too many of these wild almonds can be fatal. However, the ones that are commonly available are the domesticated sweet almonds. Still it does not mean that there are no side effects to them, but worry not as the benefits greatly outweigh the side effects. Also, the side effects are mainly applicable by consuming large quantities of almonds.

Benefits/Pros

Side Effects/Cons

  • May reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Protects artery walls from damage
  • May help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's
  • May reduce the risk of cancer, especially colon
  • Contain lot of minerals, as well as vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and niacin.
  • Are a significant source of protein and fiber
  • Are low in sugar
  • Contains healthy calories
  • Can be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and preserving healthy cholesterol
  • Are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • May promote gastrointestinal health and even combat diabetes
  • Are prebiotic which contributes to health in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Almond milk is a vegan and healthier alternative to regular cow milk
  • Are a fantastic source of antioxidants
  • Can help protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer
  • Helps protect the LDL cholestrol from oxidation
  • Helps reduce hunger, thus  lowering overall calorie intake
  • Are incredibly effective for weight loss
  • Are naturally gluten-free, and are a versatile, nutrient-rich addition to gluten-free diets
  • Are a very good source of energy
  • May help prevent gallstones by keeping the gallbladder and liver running smoothly
  • Can help build strong bones and teeth
  • Can help provide good brain function

 

  • Contains too many calories and eating too much can lead to weight gain
  • Some people might have an allergic reaction to almonds such as
  • The amount of fiber in the almonds can lead to constipation and bloating in some people
  • Almonds are rich in magnesium, but too much magnesium can lead to drug interactions, especially with laxatives, antibiotics and certain blood pressure medications.
  • Excess in Vitamin E can lead to diarrhea, flatulence, blurred vision, headaches and dizziness, and lethargy.
  • Almonds are prone to bacterial growth; harmful bacterial growth can lead to health problems if consumed without proper cleaning.
  • Can lead to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in some people
  • Might not be recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding

Image Courtesy: indusladies.com

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