Almonds are nutrient-dense tree nut native to India, Middle East, and North Africa. Almonds are available in two varieties, sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds are used in desserts, garnishes, and bitter almonds are used to extract oil. Eating a handful of almonds
is not only delicious, but also a healthy way to lower bad cholesterol levels and prevents the risk of heart diseases.
What are Non-communicable Diseases?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that non-communicable diseases
(NCD) are diseases that do not spread from person to person. The four main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke), chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma), diabetes and cancer. NCDs claim 38 million lives each year. About 28 million NCD deaths occur in the low-and-middle-income countries.
Cardiovascular diseases account for 17.5 million people deaths every year, followed by cancer (8.2 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4 million) and diabetes (1.5 million).
The risk of dying from non-communicable disease increases with an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, use of tobacco products and alcohol consumption. Following a healthy balanced diet prevents the risk of death due to NCDs. Studies have shown that almond-enriched diet lowers the risk of NCDs by improving heart health, controlling blood sugar levels, preventing cancer and improving lung function.
Role of Almonds in Prevention of NCDs
Almonds, the “King of Nuts” are packed with many essential nutrients and antioxidants compared to other tree nuts. Almonds benefit overall health
from improving heart health to preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Almonds are good sources of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, iron, selenium, copper and niacin. Get to know about some of the proven benefits of almonds.Healthy Heart
Almonds are good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
that help lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and improves heart health. Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in almonds that help prevent the development of plaques in the arteries, which narrows blood flow to the heart and lead to coronary artery disease
or heart attack
. Almonds also reduce the impact of C-reactive proteins that cause artery-damaging inflammation.
A short-term study conducted by researchers at the Ashton University in Birmingham found that middle-aged men who consumed 50 grams of almonds a day for a month had improved vascular function and were at reduced risk for heart disease.
A study published in the Journal of American Heart Association
(2014), showed that eating 1.5 oz (42 grams) of almonds a day helps prevent the onset of cardiometabolic diseases in healthy individuals.
Control Blood Sugar Level
Consumption of almonds can help type 2 diabetics
to maintain their blood glucose levels. A study published in the journal Metabolism
showed that consuming an ounce (28 grams) of almonds before eating a high-starch meal reduced post-meal blood sugar levels by 30% in patients with type 2 diabetes compared with a 7% reduction for non-diabetics.
Daily consumption of 28 grams of almonds over a 12-week period reduced glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) by 4% in people with type 2 diabetes. Almonds help reduce the rise in glucose and insulin levels after meals by regulating the absorption and processing of glucose. Thus, diabetics should ensure that they include almonds in their diet to prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar levels after a meal. Prevent Cancer
A study conducted by researchers from the University of California found that almond consumption could reduce the risk of colon cancer. Almonds improve the movement of food through the colon, preventing toxic build-up and colon cancer. Other studies have also found a link between almond consumption and prevention of prostate and breast cancer. Almonds contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that fights free radical damage and oxidative stress that are linked to cancer.Improve Lung Health
Vitamin E in almonds protect the lungs from free radical damage and prevent inflammation. This essential antioxidant also helps repair damaged lung tissue.
Magnesium in almonds increase lung capacity, decrease inflammation and protect lungs from free radicals. Magnesium-rich foods
are recommended for people with asthma as it improves lung function and reduces wheezing.
Sweet almonds and almond milk can be a better choice for good lung health.
Almonds Prevent Risk Factors for NCDsRegulate Blood Pressure
are high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps regulate blood
pressure. Magnesium deficiency is linked to high blood pressure and
consuming almonds can be beneficial for blood pressure control as 100
grams of almonds provide 705mg of potassium, which is 20% of the daily
According to a study published in
the International Journal of Obesity
, women who
consumed almonds for a period of six months experienced greater
reductions in systolic blood pressure when compared to other women who
did not eat almonds.
A study conducted by researchers
from Ashton University in Britain found that almond enriched diet on
healthy young and middle-aged men lowered blood pressure and improved
the levels of antioxidant alpha-tocopherol in their blood.
Eating a handful of almonds every day helps increase the levels of HDL cholesterol
and reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol. Almonds not only lower LDL levels in the blood but also prevent harmful oxidation of LDL cholesterol
, which is a precursor to heart disease.
A study examined the cholesterol-lowering effects of raw almonds, roasted and salted almonds and almond butter in men and women with high cholesterol levels. The participants included one of the three forms of almonds in their diet for three months. The findings showed that all the three forms of almonds reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol. Raw and roasted almonds lowered total cholesterol, and almond butter increased HDL cholesterol levels. The findings suggested that all the forms of almonds can produce beneficial changes in blood lipid levels.
The skin of almonds contains polyphenol antioxidants that prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can cause heart disease. Almonds contain both linoleic and linolenic fatty acids that help reduce inflammation. Fatty acids also contribute to reducing the levels of bad cholesterol.
Ways to Include Almonds in your Diet
Almonds can be eaten raw or roasted. They are also available in the form of flakes, slivers, flour, milk, and butter.
- Add sliced almonds to cereals or oatmeal
- Munch on a handful of almonds during the day
- Slivered almonds can be added to nutri bars
- Add coarsely ground almonds to salads
- Add chopped almonds to low-fat yogurt