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Almonds – The wholesome nuts

Roast it, toast it and snack it! Almond is a power-packed nut stuffed with goodness, earning the title “King of Nuts.” The word “Almond” is a mix of Latin, Greek and Arabic languages. It is known by various other names such as Amendoa or Almendra in Spanish, Mandorla in Italian, Mandel or Krackmandel in German, and so on. In India, it is famous as Badam, Badaami, Badam Paruppa, Badam Kath. It is said that in the botanical world the fruit of an almond is a drupe. 

It is a seed but is more popular as a nut with a promise to keep us all in the pink of health. The distinctive combination of nutrients, i.e. monounsaturated fats, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and such makes almond a heart-healthy snack. As a plant-based protein, it is excellent for those who follow a vegetarian diet. Found in the snack pockets of a dieter these seeds slow down memory loss due to ageing. 

Setting it apart: 

Almond is a versatile tree nut. It lends itself to a sweet and savoury dish alike, giving any meal a delicious crunch. There are two types of almonds- Sweet Almonds and Bitter Almonds. This nut requires honey bees and wild bees for crop pollination 

Cultivation and harvesting: 

Harvesting almonds is an easy but a long process. A ‘long-term plan,’ it takes five years to plant and more than ten years for an almond tree to reach maturity. The life span of an almond tree is approximately 30 years. Almond can be cultivated in select few hilly areas like Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir. However, its indigenous origin is Iran and the states around it.  

Sowing and irrigation: 

For plant growth, almond needs a hot summer and a cool winter. It grows in wide fertile, loamy and well-drained soil with the pH of 6.9 – 7.9. Few types of almond trees are fertile. Therefore, they need cross-pollination for fruit production. Trees should be planted with a distance of 20 to 30 feet. To sprout the seed in spring, it has to be sown in the fall. Irrigation is essential as almond orchards need moisture. However, over-irrigation can ruin it leading to rotting. 

Medicinal value: 

Consuming almonds is an excellent way to keep yourself healthy. It builds bones, lowers LDL, and helps the O2 flow in the bloodstream. The outer skin of almond contains antioxidants; therefore, almonds are best eaten with the skin. Antioxidants and vitamin E may protect us from life-threatening diseases like cancer, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and work great as an antiageing food. 

Almond is also high in magnesium. This lowers blood sugar and blood pressure while preventing metabolic syndrome. It also improves insulin function and minimising the risk of type 2 diabetes. Almonds are not only heart-friendly but are great for those trying to lose weight. They bring down your appetite and boost metabolism. Given all these health benefits, almond merits the title “the perfect food.” 

100g serving of almonds: 

Calories  580 

Total Fat  52g 

Dietary fiber  12mg  

Total Carbs  20g 

Calcium  268mg 

Vitamin E  26mg 

Protein  23gms 

Iron  3.71mg  

Potassium  733mg 

Reference:

http://www.nutritionvalue.org

http://www.foodconfidence.com

Summary: Almonds are packed with healthy fats, protein, fibre, magnesium and vitamin E. It is famous for lowering blood sugar levels, blood pressure and lower the levels of bad cholesterol. Their goodness also includes bringing down hunger pangs; thus, helping in weight loss. No wonder, it remains a perfect snack for everyone, including fitness fanatics.

Click here to read: Why soaking nuts, seeds, grains and beans is beneficial.

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