Health benefits of almonds & side effects of eating too many almonds
Do you want to know about almonds in general and their nutritional value? Do you want to know what the side effects of eating too many almonds are? Read on to get your answers to all questions you may have concerning almonds.
What Are Almonds?
Mainly, almond is obtained from a tree which is present in South Asia and the Middle East. Almond is also the name of the seed of the tree. In genus Prunus, and the subgenus Amygdlaus, almond is present. Drupe is the name given to the fruit of almond. The drupe has a hard shell, underneath which the seed is present. The term ‘shelling almonds’ is used for almonds. This basically means, to obtain the seed present inside, you have to remove the shell of the fruit. Unshelled (where shell isn’t removed) or shelled (meaning that the shell is removed) are the two ways in which almonds are generally sold. In order to make the coating of the seed soft, they are dipped in water. These seeds are known as blanched almonds. After some time, to reveal the embryo, the coating is removed.
Almond tree is the next topic. 4-10 m is the height of an almond tree. Its trunk can grow to a length of 12 inches in diameter. At first, the limbs of the tree are green in color. When they are exposed to light, they become purple and after that, change their color to grey. The length of the leaves is 3 to 5 inches. The diameter of the flowers is 3 to 5 cm. The flowers come before the leaves and are either found individually or in groups. Almond is usually found in warm climate, where the climate is mild and warm. 15 to 30 degree is the temperature at which there is best growth of almonds. Usually in the third year after plantation, almonds begin to show economic results. In about 4 to 6 years, the almond tree grows to its full height.
The almond fruit has its own quality and uniqueness. The length of the fruit is 4-5 cm. One thing is important to mention here and it is that almond is not a nut. Most people think that almonds are nuts just because they look like nuts. However, almond isn’t a nut; it is a drupe. Thick, green and leathery are the characteristics of the outer layer of the fruit. A hard shell, known as endocarp is present inside the outer layer. One seed is present inside the shell, which is the edible almond. In some cases, in a single shell, two seeds are present.
Nutritional Value of Almonds
Almond is a nutritious food. It contains vitamin B, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, niacin and riboflavin. Almonds have a good quantity of vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and thiamin in them. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are present in almonds. Other than this, some phytosterols are also present in almonds.
The following chart shows the nutrients present in one ounce potion of almonds.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds have many benefits, some of which have been mentioned below:
Lowering LDL Cholesterol And Reducing The Risk Of Heart Attack
High fats are present in almonds but they are quite beneficial for health. Mainly, the fats present in almonds are the monounsaturated fats. In olives, too, these fats are present and reduce the risks of heart disease. A recent study done in 2014, showed that almonds decrease the heart disease risks (1). In the study, the researchers found out that the anti-oxidants are increased by eating almonds. Also, due to almonds, the blood flow is improved and the blood pressure is reduced. Due to this, the blood vessels remain healthy, which leads to a healthier heart. Another study also found that the risk of heart diseases is lowered by eating almonds. In a study, it was proved that when certain foods, which decrease LDL cholesterol, like nuts, are added, then they are more beneficial than eating the any of the food alone.
The heart disease risk is reduced by eating almonds, due to the presence of vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids. Magnesium is also beneficial for heart. It improves the blood flow, due to which oxygen and other nutrients travel throughout the body. Potassium is also present in almonds which is quite beneficial for reducing heart disease risks.
Fighting Diabetes And Cardiovascular Diseases
When almonds are consumed, the blood sugar levels aren’t increased. This leads to a reduction in the cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Doctors recommend to eat almonds after meals. This is because, after meal, the blood sugar level rises. But by eating almonds, the blood sugar level doesn’t rise. A study, recently conducted, proved that consuming almonds lead to reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes (2). The study proved that nut consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes are related in an inverse relation with one another. This means that the risk of type 2 diabetes will be lower if the nuts are eaten in excess and vice versa. In the specific study, the women from ages 34 to 59 were given nuts to eat and their daily consumption was recorded for 16 years. Although the women didn’t had diabetes previously, the research proved that the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced in those women.
Almonds And Brain Health
Research has proven that almonds are quite beneficial for the proper functioning and development of the brain. Almonds have gained there popularity as a food which increases the intellectual capacity of individuals. That’s the reason that doctors recommend them for children. The functioning of brain is improved due to the presence of riboflavin and L-carnitine in almonds. Almond is beneficial against Alzheimer’s disease. The nervous system functions better by consuming almonds and almond oil. Almonds also contains vitamin E in it. A study proved that due to the presence of vitamin E in almonds, the Alzheimer’s disease is successfully treated (3). The study showed that people who consume Vitamin E up to 2000 IU on daily basis, have delayed progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Memory is also improved due to vitamin E. In the study, the people who were given vitamin E had a better remembrance than people who weren’t given any thing.
Almonds And Bone Health
There are many important minerals and vitamins present in almonds. Phosphorous is one of these minerals. Bones and teeth benefit from phosphorous. Osteoporosis can also be prevented due to phosphorous. Other than phosphorous, the vitamin E present in almonds is especially beneficial for the bones. Recently, a study was conducted in order to find the effect of vitamin E on bone density and strength (4). The study was conducted on rats. The rats were given vitamin E oil. At the end of the study, it was proved that in rats, the femur bone density increased by 80%. The given dosage was higher than those administered to humans. The fact of the matter is that the bone health is improved by eating almonds.
Almonds And Weight Loss
You might be surprised to know that almonds don’t cause any weight gain. On the other hand, weight loss is facilitated by almonds. A study showed that there is an inverse relation between nuts and weight. This means that if more nuts are eaten, there will be weight loss and vice versa (5). The study showed that the weight of the people, who consume almonds doesn’t increase at all. The study showed that people who ate more nuts had more weight loss. Another study was conducted in which participants were given nuts to eat (6). The participants were divided into two groups. One group was given 3 servings per week and the other group was given only one or less than one serving per week. By the study it was proved that people who were given 3 servings per week had lower waist circumference and BMI.
The main reason why almonds lead to weight loss is due to the presence of healthy fatty acids in them. Due to these hormones, the appetite of a person is kept in control and he doesn’t feel hungry. This is due to the fact that almonds regulate the production of the ghrelin hormone (the hormone which controls hunger) and creates a feeling of fullness. Due to this, people who eat almonds, eat less foods from other food sources. Almond contains magnesium in it which create a feeling of fullness. Almonds may also block the absorbing of calories in the body.
Almonds For Skin
Almond is quite beneficial for the skin. Mothers are often told to give almond oil massages to their babies. Also, because almond milk is beneficial for increasing skin complexion, it is widely used in soaps. The antioxidants, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium present in almond makes it a perfect skin care products. Moisturizing is done by almond milk and almond soap. To apply almond on your body, you can buy almond oil from the market. You can also buy a cream from the market and apply it on your body after a bath or shower. Almond oil can also be applied on face. It can either be applied for taking off the make up or for moisturizing the skin. For using almonds on face, there is no need to buy any almond oil from the market. Just buy a few almonds from market. Now put these almonds in water for some time. After that, crush the almonds into fine pieces and add yogurt into it. Keep on mixing the yogurt with crushed almonds until a thick paste is formed. Now gently rub this paste on your face. You can also put almond oil on your hands or you can buy a hand cream from the market, containing almond oil. Buy one of these creams and gently rub it on the hands.
What Are the Side Effects of Eating Too Many Almonds
Although there are many health benefits of almonds, they have a darker side to them. When you eat them in an average quantity, you will get all the benefits of almonds. However, when you eat too many almonds, you will suffer from certain side effects. You might think of it as a bit strange but nevertheless, it is true.
The body weight of a person is affected by eating too many almonds. Because fats and calories are present in almonds in a high quantity, the appropriate intake of almonds is about one oz. In an oz, 163 g calories and 14 g fats are present. This is why it is important to eat only one oz of almonds in a day. Your weight will obviously increase if you eat 500 calories of almonds. In general, you will gain one pound if you eat 3 oz almonds regularly for a week. 45 to 70g should be the normal intake of almonds.
In almonds, manganese is present in more quantity. There are about 0.6 grams of the mineral present in one serving. About 2.3 mg of manganese intake is enough for a day. If you intake more than this, you will have to face some serious consequences. Drug interaction can be caused if you intake more almonds. What this means is that almonds will interfere with the drugs you intake. Different drugs which you take like blood pressure tablets, antipsychotic medications and laxatives, can be affected badly, when the quantity of manganese in the body is high.
By now, you might be familiar with the many health benefits of vitamin E. One most important benefit is that it provides protection to the antioxidants. You will get only 7.4 mg vitamin E by taking the recommended dosage of vitamin E. Serious side effects like headache and blurring of vision are caused when the intake of almonds shoots to 500 or 1000 mg.
The above mentioned side effects are just to give you a brief overview of eating almonds in excess. A detailed description of the side effects of almonds, has been mentioned below:
A gain in weight occurs when almonds are eaten in excess. As already mentioned, these nuts are high in caloric and fat content, therefore, only one oz per serving of almonds is recommended. In general, if a person eats 3500 calories more than what he burns, there will be a weight gain. So, weight gain occurs when the daily intake of almonds is about 500 calories for about one week. By the intake of 4 to 5 oz of almonds every day for a week and you don’t do any physical activity, then your weight will gain by two pounds. There can be a debate whether this fat is healthy or not, but the bottom line is that your weight increases by eating too many almonds. According to one estimate, 50 grams of fat are consumed just by eating 4 oz of almonds per day for a week. 25 to 40 percent of your calories should be your fat consumption. To stop any kind of gain in weight, the appropriate intake of almonds should be 44 to 70 grams.
Now let us look at some studies which show that weight gain is caused by eating almonds in excess. Three different studies were conducted to find the effect of almonds on weight gain (7). In these studies, the participants were given almonds to eat. After the study ended, the researchers gave their conclusion. According to the researchers, in two out of the three studies, the subjects had an increase in weight when they nuts were added to their diet. This was a study for a long period of time. Although the nuts did increase the weight in these studies, it was lesser than the researchers had expected. The people who added nuts to their diet had an increase of one pound weight in a period of 6 months. And over a period one year, the weight gain was about 2 pounds.
Another study was conducted to find the relation of weight and almonds (8). In this study, the participants were divided into three groups. One of the group was provided an almond diet, one was provided a walnut diet and the last of the three groups was provided with a nut free diet. The diet was administered such that all the calories were equal in all the three diets. The result of the study proved, that, although both walnuts and almonds facilitate weight loss when taken in normal quantity, the weight loss caused by almonds isn’t that much noticeable. This shows that eating almonds, even in the normal quantity isn’t that much beneficial as it is commonly thought.
Interacting With Other Drugs
Manganese is a mineral which perform various functions in the body like absorbing calcium, regulating sugar and blood clotting. According to one research, the daily requirements of manganese are not fulfilled of 27% of Americans.
The manganese content in almonds is quite high. About 0.6 mg of manganese are present in 1 oz of almonds. When taken in normal quantity, it is quite beneficial. The reason is that, for the proper functioning of bodily organs, about 2 to 3 mg of manganese is needed on daily basis. Nerve damage is caused when the manganese content is above than 10 mg on daily basis. In ordinary circumstances, the manganese content in the body remains within the normal range. However, when a person eats a diet high in manganese, takes a manganese supplement and eats almonds and other nuts, then manganese level can easily reach up to 100 mg per day. This can lead to some serious side effects.
Manganese can cause interaction with many other drugs (9). It can bond itself with certain antibiotics and resultantly, the antibiotics don’t provide their desired effects. The reason is that when manganese interacts with antibiotics, the antibiotic content in the body is decreased because some antibiotics bond with manganese. Some antibiotics which can bond with manganese are Cripro, Penetrex, Trovan, Raxar, Zagam, Achromycin, and Declomycin. Other than antibiotics, manganese can also react with some antipsychotic medicines and reduce their effectiveness. Manganese can also interact with some supplements containing calcium, iron and zinc.
The bottom line is that manganese interacts with different drugs. The best thing that you can do is to eat the foods containing manganese content, like almonds, two or three hours before or after you take your medications.
Excess Of Vitamin E
In one oz of almonds, about 7.4 mg of vitamin E is present. Double this amount and you will get the appropriate amount of vitamin E needed each day. The dosage of vitamin E which can cause side effects is above 500 mg or 1000 mg. Most people think that it is impossible that vitamin E can rise to such level. Although generally this doesn’t happen, in rare cases, especially you are eating a vitamin E rich diet including eggs, whole grains and spinach, vitamin E can reach to dangerous levels. Some common health problems like laziness, diarrhea and headaches can be caused by excess of vitamin E. Some studies have also supported that vitamin E is linked to prostate cancer (10).
Problems In The Abdomen
3.5 g of Fiber is present in one ounce almonds. The appropriate amount of fiber needed per day is 30 g. Constipation and diarrhea is caused when too much almonds are eaten. If your body isn’t used to taking too much fiber, the side effects can worsen. Bloating and cramping can be caused when too much fiber is consumed. When water isn’t drunk with almonds, abdominal problems can occur. However, to eradicate abdominal problems while eating almonds, drink water along with them. Another thing which you can do is that along with almonds, you can eat high water content fruits and vegetables.
This article has informed you about almonds, their health benefits and the side effects of eating too many almonds. In conclusion, almonds are quite beneficial for health. They are helpful for skin, bone health and brain health. However, almonds shouldn’t be consumed in excess. When almonds are consumed in excess, different health problems like headache, constipation, blurred vision, and diarrhea are caused. So if you plan on eating almonds, consume them in a moderate quantity.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Education:||Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic|
|Article resources:||See numbered references within the article|
|Published:||May 5, 2015 9:51 PM|
|Next scheduled update:||May 5, 2017 9:51 PM|