HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING ALMONDS AND WALNUTS FOR SKIN, WEIGHT LOSS & BRAIN….. COMMON SIDE EFFECTS AND NUTRITION FACTS
Like most other nuts, walnuts and almonds are highly nutritious. You must have read in several health publications about the importance of including nuts in your diet; these nuts (almonds and walnuts) should be at the top of your list.
In this article we shall take a look at some of the many health benefits as well as some common side effects of eating almonds and walnuts. But, before we dig into the matter proper, let’s get to know a little about these nuts.
What are almonds?
While almonds are popularly known as nuts, they are, however, seeds of the almond tree. The almond tree is aboriginal to North Africa and Asia, but is now being cultivated in other parts of the world. There are different varieties of almonds depending on their tastes. While some almonds are sweet and can be eaten raw, others are bitter and are processed for their oil and milk. Almonds are packed with nourishing vitamins and minerals that give the seeds medicinal properties.
We’ve learnt a little about almonds, now, let’s shift our focus briefly to walnuts.
What are walnuts?
The walnut is the round edible nut of the walnut tree. A walnut is enclosed in a white papery skin which in turn is surrounded by a hard inedible shell. There are two major types of walnuts: the black type and the brown ones, which are more common. Whichever type you find, you are assured of getting some nutritional benefits when you eat them.
Nutritional information about almonds
We’ve already stated that almonds are highly nutritious; now, we shall go deeper to understand how nutritious they are.
First, almonds are high in fat, not unhealthy fat anyway; almonds have a high monounsaturated fat content that is essential for regulating good cholesterol levels. Almonds are also rich in vitamins including vitamin E and the B vitamins. Other nutrients and minerals found in almonds include zinc, copper, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, proteins, fiber, and magnesium.
Nutritional information about walnuts
Like almonds, walnuts are packed with nutrients that are beneficial to human health. Walnuts even more antioxidants than almonds and most other nuts making them invaluable. These nuts are rich in healthy fats, which form most part of the edible part and dietary fiber.
Walnuts are rich sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are healthy types of fats; they also contain minerals such as magnesium, calcium, selenium, sodium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins including vitamin C and B vitamins. Other important compounds found in walnuts are lutein, beta-carotene, and phytosterols.
Health benefits of eating almonds
Besides the sweet taste of almonds, they also offer several health benefits. Some of these benefits are:
- Almonds are good for the brain
Almonds contain L-carnitine, a chemical compound that benefits the brain by preventing neuron damage and by promoting the creation of new neural pathways in the nervous system. Other brain-boosting chemicals in almonds include vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, folate, and monounsaturated fats. Although research is limited, the available findings hint that eating almonds can help in boosting memory, especially for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Immunity booster
Studies have found that almonds have immune-strengthening capabilities. Almonds have a high percentage of alkaline compounds that boost the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infection. Besides, the action of vitamin E in almonds is important to the immune system in that it helps to cancel out free radicals in the body which may otherwise lead to health problems.
- Maintenance of cholesterol levels
Almonds are rich in unsaturated fats which are beneficial in reducing bad cholesterol level. Research has shown that the consumption of almonds can help in lowering the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the body while also elevating the HDL (good) cholesterol level.
- Good for the heart
Almonds contain vitamin E, which is believed to be a powerful antioxidant that helps in preventing heart diseases. Even more, the presence of minerals like potassium and magnesium also help to keep the heart in perfect shape. A 2012 research even showed that eating almonds can help in lowering the risk of heart disease, especially in overweight persons. Apart from these, it has been found that the skin of an almond is rich in polyphenols that help to prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol which is harmful to the heart.
Good for the bones and teeth
Calcium and phosphorus are some of the numerous minerals found in almonds. These two elements, especially calcium, are important for strong bones and teeth. Thus, chomping a handful of almonds can help to prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis.
- For healthy skin
We already stated that almonds can be processed for their oil and milk. Almond oil is mostly used by pregnant women on their neonates while the milk is used in cosmetic products like soap for enhancing skin complexion.
- For cancer prevention
The fiber contained in almonds also offers the benefit of detoxification. By promoting proper digestion and bowel movement, fiber can help to lower the risk of abdominal cancer development. In this context, abdominal cancer is any type of cancer that affects any organ or tissue of the alimentary canal such as the colon or stomach. In addition to fiber, almonds also contain phytochemicals and flavonoids, which are known to have cancer-fighting capabilities.
- Aids weight loss
Almonds contain dietary fiber which helps in curbing appetite. Eating a handful of almonds can bring a filling effect that controls craving. By reducing hunger, eating almonds helps overweight and obese individuals to effectively shed off the extra weight. Furthermore, virtually all nuts are rich in protein but low in carbohydrate and fats, thereby, giving the body essential nutrients without loading it with unwanted fats.
- Prevention of diabetes
Although more research and investigation still need to be done, recent studies have found that the inclusion of almonds in the diet of diabetics brings the advantage of lowering fasting insulin levels in the body. Moreover, since almonds are low in sugar, they are helpful in maintaining blood sugar level and, therefore, in preventing diabetes.
Health benefits of eating walnuts
The following are some of the nutritional benefits of consuming walnuts.
- For maintaining healthy weight
Walnuts are rich in fiber, which helps in creating a satiating feeling after eating. When you feel full after eating walnuts, the tendency to binge on some other foods is greatly reduced. Thus, overweight and even normal weight individuals can benefit greatly from eating walnuts.
- For treating diabetes
- Remedy for constipation
Like all nuts, walnuts are also recommended for constipation patients. This is because of the fiber content of the nut, which promotes proper digestion and bowel movement. Furthermore, digestive problems can be prevented by adding walnuts to your diet.
- For reducing inflammation
Many diseases such as cancer often spring from systemic inflammation in the body. These inflammations can be reduced by eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties like walnuts. Walnuts contain polyphenols and phytosterols which give the nut its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cancer prevention
The risk of certain types of cancer like breast cancer can be reduced by eating walnuts. The anti-inflammatory properties of walnuts help to reduce inflammations that increase cancer risk while the phenols and other antioxidants like beta-carotene also help in combating cancer cells.
- Promotes sleep
Walnuts promotes the release of melatonin – a sleep inducing hormone – as well as contain the hormone. A deficiency of melatonin in the body can cause insomnia. Moreover, the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts help to relieve stress which is a great contributor to insomnia.
- Good for cardiovascular health
Eating raw walnuts helps to lower high blood pressure as well as bad cholesterol levels in the body. These two parameters (blood pressure and cholesterol) significantly affect the state of the heart. The consumption of this nut helps to regulate these parameters, thereby, protecting the heart from cardiovascular diseases.
- Good for the skin
The presence of vitamin E and the B vitamins in walnuts comes into play here. Massaging the skin with walnut oil can do wonders. For one, the oil helps to keep the skin moisturized and makes it glow while eating the nut can reduce the effects of aging on the skin as well as help in removing dark circles around the eyes.
- Good for the hair
Eating walnuts or using walnut oil topically on the hair can prevent some hair problems. For healthier and longer hair, regular application walnut oil is helpful due to the presence polyunsaturated fatty acids while dandruff can be prevented due to the moisturizing effect of the oil. Even more, some studies have suggested the use of walnut oil to prevent balding.
- Good for pregnant women
Expecting mothers can benefit from eating walnuts due to the B vitamins in the nut. B vitamins such as riboflavin (B2) and thiamin (B1) help in proper fetus development.
Side effects of eating almonds and walnuts
Walnuts and almonds are rich sources of essential body nutrients, but eating more than is required by the body can lead to some adverse side effects. Some of the common side effects of overeating almonds or walnuts are:
- Risk of allergic reactions
Due to the risk of allergic reactions, people with nut allergies are advised to avoid black walnuts and overeating almonds.
- Risk of digestive problems
While the consumption of nuts is a known home remedy for digestion problems like constipation, too much consumption, however, can lead to other digestion problems like bloating and abdominal pain.
- Gaining weight
Although almonds and walnuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats and fiber that aids weight loss, over-consumption of these nuts can make you to gain weight.
- Risk of food poisoning
The United States FDA recommends almonds to be processed before consumption due to the fact that they may carry some pathogenic bacteria. Also, bitter almonds are considered as unhealthy as they contain cyanide which is a poisonous compound.