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The Nut With A Healing Touch- Almond

With or without its kernel, the almond is a prize nut across civilizations. Eaten raw, pounded into powder or milled into oil, its properties serve to provide relief to a number of ailments humankind may face.
It is not entirely without reason that almonds are priced higher than their country cousins, the peanuts. Their nutritive value as well as functional importance in keeping the human body supple, beautiful and healthy, is unsurpassed in the nut kingdom, if one may use the term.

Nearly cholesterol free and abundant in high quality, highly absorbable protein, almonds provide almost no useless material to the body. Their high monounsaturated fats (that fight bad cholesterol) and dietary fiber content make them easy to digest, provides heat in the body and also ensure no excess oils, like the peanut.

Alpha-tocopherol, which is a major source of Vitamin E, makes almonds almost the elixir for healthy hair and skin. Indeed, most traditional cultures use almond oil for rich, healthy hair and a flawless, wrinkle free skin. In many countries in the Middle East and even India and China, almond oil is a part of the medicine cabinet as well as the beauty cabinet of every home. Such is the invaluable contribution that this ubiquitous little seed has to the realm of beauty and healthcare.

The high magnesium, calcium and potassium content in almonds make them better than any other snacking nuts, proving instant energy, easy digestibility and high absorbance of minerals and vitamins in it. Manganese and phosphorus contained in almonds helps to keep a healthy, sharp and sound brain, which is why a regular massage with almond oil is said to have a great effect on memory and power of concentration. Even better is to eat four or five almonds, soaked in water overnight, first thing in the morning. It enhances brain power. This is one of the elixirs that sages in ancient India would give to their students, to help them learn the art of warfare and the Vedas better. To learn the Vedas, one anyway needs a substantial amount of brain power!!!

Among almonds, there are bitter almonds and the sweet almonds. Bitter almond cannot be eaten but have other uses because their kernels and the nuts themselves have great anti-carcinogenic properties. These are used for commercial purposes, like making almond oil, perfumes, and other cosmetics.

The sweet almonds that come in two varieties, thin skinned and thick skinned. The thin skinned variety is more valuable than the thick skinned one. These are, however, high in calories so should be avoided with meals, it is better to eat them alone or with raw vegetables, salads etc. If eaten with meals, they are difficult to digest.

A regular intake of almond in its best form, natural, can help a number of diseases. Anemia, the low hemoglobin count problem, can be cured with sufficient amounts of copper, which, when combined with iron and vitamins, can accelerate the growth of red blood cells in the body. Almond has quite a high percentage of copper, about 1.15-mg per 100 grams.

In addition, almonds provide almost all the nutrients that help increase bone mineral density, making a strong skeletal system, needed by athletes, growing, pre-pubescent children and of course, elderly people. It can, hence fight the onslaught of osteoporosis in the elderly. In the not so elderly, where a good life piles on its evidences in the various regions of the body, almonds have been known to drastically reduce the effects of cholesterol. The monounsaturated fats help maintain healthy levels of HDL Cholesterol while reducing total and LKDL cholesterol. The heart can now breathe a sigh of relief. This effect can show results with quantities as little as an ounce a day!

After dinner, it is a good idea to eat at least 10 skinned almonds; this increases dietary fiber and eases constipation. For those unable to consume the nuts, it is a good idea to drink one teaspoon of almond oil mixed in about half a cup of warm milk, to cure indigestion and grease the alimentary canal adequately. This is also known to cleanse the skin internally and remove toxins from the blood. A mixture of powdered almonds and orange juice, drunk on a regular basis helps relieves the discomfort of bronchial problems, irritating cough and throat infections.

There are also a number of external problems that almond and almond oil can help to ease. For instance, for temporary deafness, mix in equal parts garlic juice, oil of sweet almonds and glycerin, and use as ear drop. In case of skin irritations or chronic conditions like eczema, soreness, itchiness, dryness and inflammation, almond oil is the best carrier for medicines. It absorbs quickly leaving the skin soft and toned, hence is ideal massage oil.

The list of almond oil's beauty aiding properties is almost endless. It can be used as a mild and effective bleaching agent when mixed with milk cream and ground with the paste of fresh rosebud. When applied daily, this paste keeps the skin dew fresh and young looking, delays the appearance of wrinkles, blackheads, dryness and even pimples. The toning effect of the oil works wonders for mature skins. In case of steam burns, application of almond oil immediately cools off the area and protects it from infection of any sort. But since it has a short shelf life and goes rancid very quickly, it must be consumed fast.

Almond leaves pounded with water make a paste which is very beneficial for eczema infected skin, and if the casing (the hard outer layer) is applied In this manner, acne can be cured. And now comes the interesting news. Almonds are also very good at revitalizing the system, increasing blood flow to the vital organs and so, in many cultures, they are used as aphrodisiacs. Munching on about a dozen almonds every day ensures a step up in a person's love life.

For people or babies with lactose intolerance, powdered almonds mixed with warm water provide more nutrition than milk would have. In fact, this mixture can be used to wean babies, and provides at least as much nutrition as breast milk.

The talents of the little nut are indeed amazing.
By Kanika Goswami
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