What is Almond?
Almonds are the seeds of the fruits cultivated from the almond tree. The scientific name of these dry fruits is Prunus dulcis and they are native to the Middle East, India, and North Africa. They are now found in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Israel as well. The taste of almonds ranges from sweet to bitter and both are readily available in markets.
Sweet almonds are edible, while bitter ones are used for making oil, a common oil that is used to add flavor to the food. They are usually eaten raw, but many people also add them as ingredients in salads, casseroles, and other dishes. Almond milk is also a delicious beverage and is an alternative to less nutritious cow’s milk. You can eat almonds directly, preferably on an empty stomach to increase and speed up the absorption of their nutrients. You can soak them in water overnight so you can eat them the next morning. Crushed almonds are also a wonderful garnish for a number of dishes.
Almond is a highly nutritional nut and a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. It also contains zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. They have many health benefits which includes heart health, regulates blood sugar, controls blood pressure among others.
The almond is native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East, from Syria and Turkey eastward to Pakistan. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe, and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California, United States. The wild form of domesticated almond grows in parts of the Levant.
Selection of the sweet type from the many bitter types in the wild marked the beginning of almond domestication. It is unclear as to which wild ancestor of the almond created the domesticated species. The taxon Amygdalus fenzliana (Fritsch) Lipsky may be the most likely wild ancestor of the almond in part because it is native of Armenia and western Azerbaijan where it was apparently domesticated. Wild almond species were grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps, and later intentionally in their orchards”.
Almonds were one of the earliest domesticated fruit trees due to “the ability of the grower to raise attractive almonds from seed. Thus, in spite of the fact that this plant does not lend itself to propagation from suckers or from cuttings, it could have been domesticated even before the introduction of grafting”. Domesticated almonds appear in the Early Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC) such as the archaeological sites of Numeria (Jordan), or possibly earlier. Another well-known archaeological example of the almond is the fruit found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC), probably imported from the Levant. Of the European countries that the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh reported as cultivating almonds, Germany is the northernmost, though the domesticated form can be found as far north as Iceland.
Almonds are a nutritious, portable, low carbohydrate food that can be used in cooking or eaten as is. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California. Because almonds grow well in areas with a Mediterranean climate, they are commonly eaten in southern European, North African, and some Middle Eastern countries.
Almonds are nutrient rich—they are a good source of fiber and proteinThey are also a good source of healthy, unsaturated fats (monounsaturated, such that is found in olive oil). In addition, almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.
The only caveat to eating almonds is that they are calorie rich. Excess intake of calories can cause weight gain, an independent risk factor for various diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, when eating almonds, you should exercise portion control.Almonds can be purchased, salted, unsalted, raw, or roasted.
They can be blended into almond butter, made into almond milk, or ground as almond meal. Raw and roasted almonds are sodium-free, which is important for those people who have a history of hypertension or are looking to lower their sodium intake for other reasons. Almonds are also a good source of fiber, containing 3.5 grams in one serving. In addition, almonds are a low carbohydrate, high protein food.
The healthy fat, fiber, and protein content of almonds provide satiating power. Almonds are low in saturated fat, containing a mere 1 gram per serving. In fact, most of the fat found in almonds is cardio-protective, monounsaturated fat.
Keep in mind that when eating almonds, you should aim to stick to one serving, which is about 24 whole almonds (1/4 cup or one small handful). If you are pairing almonds with another food item, such as fruit or yogurt, aim to stick to a 100 calorie serving (about 12). For those people looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake, almonds can be used as a replacement for breadcrumbs in cooking. Almond meal can also be used in baking.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 576
- Fat 49 g – 75% RDA
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 1 mg
- Potassium 705 mg – 20% RDA
- Carbohydrate 22 g – 7% RDA
- Dietary fiber 12 g – 48% RDA
- Sugar 3.9 g
- Protein 21 g – 42% RDA
- Calcium 26% RDA
- Iron 20% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 5% RDA
- Magnesium 67% RDA
Almonds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients
The almond is the edible seed that grows on the tree Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree. Almonds are native to the Middle East, but the United States is now the world’s largest producer. The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside. They are sold either raw (often referred to as “natural”) or roasted. Almonds boast an incredibly impressive nutrient profile.
A 1 ounce (28 grams, or small handful) serving of almonds contains:
- Fiber: 3.5 grams.
- Protein: 6 grams.
- Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated).
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus. This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates. It is also important to note that 10-15% of an almond’s calories are not absorbed by the body, because the fat is too difficult to access and break down. Almonds are also high in phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed. This means that the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you get from the almonds will be reduced somewhat.
Almonds Are High in Vitamin E, Which Protects Your Cell Membranes From Damage
Vitamin E is the name for a group of fat soluble antioxidants. These antioxidants tend to build up in cell membranes in the body, protecting the cells from oxidative damage. Almonds are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E, with just one ounce providing 37% of the recommended daily intake. Several studies have linked higher vitamin E intake with lower rates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Magnesium Also Has Benefits For Blood Pressure Levels
The magnesium in almonds may also help to lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is one of the leading drivers of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
A deficiency in magnesium is strongly linked to blood pressure problems, regardless of whether you are overweight or not. Studies have shown that correcting a magnesium deficiency can lead to major reductions in blood pressure. Given that the majority of US adults do not meet the dietary recommendations for magnesium, the addition of almonds to the diet could have a huge impact.
Eating Almonds Reduces Hunger, Lowering Your Overall Calorie Intake
Almonds are low in carbs, and high in both protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber are known to increase satiety. They help people feel more full, so they end up eating fewer calories. In a 4-week study with 137 participants, a daily 1.5 ounce (43 grams) serving of almonds significantly reduced hunger and desire to eat. Numerous other studies support the hunger-fighting effects of nuts.
Health Benefits of Almond
1. Boosts Brain Health
Almond contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which are vital brain nutrients which helps increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that almonds in the diet, as well as almond oil, is nutritive to the overall health and functioning of the nervous system.
2. Heart Health
Regular consumption of almonds helps increase the high-density lipoproteins i.e. HDL cholesterol levels and they reduce the low-density lipoproteins i.e. LDL cholesterol levels. Almond contains vitamin E which is an effective antioxidant and also reduces the risk of heart diseases, while the presence of magnesium in almonds can help avoid heart attacks. They help reduce the presence and impact of C-reactive proteins (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation. They also contain folic acid which help reduce the level of homocysteine, which causes fatty plaque buildup in arteries.
The mono-unsaturated fats, protein, and potassium contained in almonds are instrumental in heart health. Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant and also reduces the risk of heart diseases, while the presence of magnesium in almonds can help avoid heart attacks. They help reduce the presence and impact of C-reactive proteins (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation.
They are also a great source of folic acid. Therefore, they help to reduce the level of homocysteine, which causes fatty plaque buildup in arteries. Furthermore, the flavonoids in the skin of almonds combine with vitamin E to form a powerful shield against artery wall damage. Research suggests that a short-term almond-enriched diet may improve vascular function in asymptomatic healthy men aged between 20 and 70 years without any effect on markers of oxidative stress.
3. Strengthens Bones
Almonds contain phosphorous which is essential for strength and durability of bones and teeth, while also preventing the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Almonds are a fantastic source of many vitamins and minerals, and phosphorus is definitely counted among them! Phosphorus can have a considerable impact on the strength and durability of bones and teeth, while also preventing the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis.
4. Boosts Immunity
Almonds are great sources of alkali materials, and this is known to benefit the strength of the immune system, as well as increase the ability to stave off diseases and various health conditions. Almonds also contain vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. It seeks out all the damaging free radicals in the body and eliminates them since they promote chronic diseases and can be horribly hazardous to the body’s organs.
Your body has many components that add to overall health, including the alkalinity of the systems. Almonds are great sources of alkali materials, and this is known to benefit the strength of the immune system, as well as increase the ability to stave off diseases and various health conditions. Along with almonds’ contribution to alkaline levels, they also have a high content of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant.
It seeks out all the damaging free radicals in the body and eliminates them since they promote chronic diseases and can be horribly hazardous to the body’s organs. Antioxidants like the vitamin E found in almonds affect all major diseases, including cancer and heart diseases. Research has actually shown that people who ingest high levels of vitamin E are actually 30-40% less likely to contract heart diseases.
5. Regulates Blood Pressure
The potassium present in almonds helps regulate blood pressure, and low levels of sodium, help control the fluctuating blood pressure. The other nutrients also keep the body balanced in terms of essential needs, which can prevent many deficiencies. Balanced vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy lifestyle, but if certain elements are neglected, the entire body is affected, resulting in anxiety, stress, and increased blood pressure.
6. Regulates Blood Sugar
Almonds help reduce the reactionary rise in glucose and insulin levels after meals.They help regulate the absorption and processing of glucose. This modulation offers protection from the dangerous spikes in blood sugar which diabetics often suffer from following a large meal, or a meal with an unexpectedly high level of sugar in it.
7. Aids in weight loss
Almonds contain mono-unsaturated fat which satisfies the appetite and prevents over-eating. The dietary fiber in almonds also contributes to the sensation of feeling full, despite eating only a small amount. Studies have revealed that an almond-rich, low-calorie diet is good for obese people to assist in shedding their excess weight.
8. Prevents Constipation
Almonds contains fiber which help add bulk to the stool and help regulate bowel movement thereby preventing constipation.
9. Foetal Development
Almonds contains folic acid which help reduce the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies especially the neural tube defects. It also stimulates healthy cell growth and tissue formation.
10. Reduces Inflammation
Almonds contain linoleic and linolenic acids which are fatty acids that help reduce inflammation all around the body. Many people think that the word “fat” means something negative, but in fact, certain fatty acids are essential and can be very beneficial for overall health. The body can’t create its own fatty acids, which is why we need to get them from dietary sources. Almonds have two very important fatty acids, both linoleic and linolenic acids. These fatty acids help reduce inflammation all around the body, which is a general condition that many people suffer from. Fatty acids also help reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, and they promote healthy skin and hair! All in all, these nuts pack a powerful, healthy punch.
11. Almonds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Almonds are a fantastic source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin.
For this reason, blanched almonds (skin removed) are not the best choice from a health perspective. A clinical trial of 60 male smokers found that 84 grams (about 3 ounces) of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23-34%, over a 4 week period. These findings support those of another study, which found that eating almonds with main meals reduced some markers of oxidative damage.
12. Almonds Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Having high levels of LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) in the blood is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. What you eat can have major effects on LDL levels, and some studies have shown almonds to be effective. A 16-week study in 65 pre-diabetic subjects found that a diet with 20% of calories from almonds lowered LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 12.4 mg/dL. Another study found that 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of almonds per day lowered LDL cholesterol by 5.3 mg/dL, while maintaining the “good” HDL cholesterol. The almond group also lost belly fat.
13. Almonds Prevent Harmful Oxidation of LDL Cholesterol
Almonds do more than just lower LDL levels in the blood. They also protect the LDL from oxidation, which is a crucial step in the heart disease process. The skin of almonds is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent oxidation of cholesterol in test tubes and animal studies. The effect may be even stronger when combined with other antioxidants, like vitamin E. In one human study, snacking on almonds for one month lowered oxidized LDL cholesterol levels by 14%. This should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
14. Skin Care
The benefits of almonds with regards to skin health are well known, and almond oil massages are often recommended for newborn babies. Almond milk is also added to some soaps, because of their well-established reputation for improving the complexion of skin.
15. Boost Energy Production
The presence of manganese, copper, and riboflavin in almonds helps in energy production and metabolic rate. If you are on the go, a handful of these dry fruits can get you through the day without filling you up with calories or fat.
16. Prevent Cancer
Almonds improve the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing build-up and subsequent colon cancer. The National Cancer Center has done extensive research on the link between high-fiber diets and a reduced risk of colon cancer.
17. Protect Against Diabetes
Almonds also help to reduce the reactionary rise in glucose and insulin levels after meals. This modulation offers protection from the dangerous spikes in blood sugar which diabetics often suffer from following a large meal, or a meal with an unexpectedly high level of sugar in it. Almonds help regulate the absorption and processing of glucose, making the entire process much smoother, and subsequently safer.
18. Good for Pregnancy
Almonds contain folic acid, which helps reduce the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies. It also stimulates healthy cell growth and tissue formation. Neural tube defects are conditions where the neural tube is either underdeveloped or is partially missing in the fetus. Doctors regularly prescribe folic acid supplements to pregnant women to ensure proper development of the tube, and almonds have enough folic acid to keep mothers and their babies healthy.
19. Prevent Constipation
Almonds are rich in fiber, and like most other fiber-rich foods, almonds help prevent constipation. However, it is also important to drink a significant amount of water when eating almonds to speed up the digestive process and beneficial effects of the nut. You don’t even need to eat an excessive amount, the amount of fiber in 4 or 5 almonds is enough to keep your digestion and bowel movements regular.
However, just like any other food, almonds have their downside. They do contain oxalates, and excessive oxalates can cause crystallization, which can lead to a host of different issues. People having kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating almonds.
How to Select and Store Almond
Almonds that are still in their shells have the longest shelf life. If purchasing these, look for shells that are not split, moldy or stained. Shelled almonds that are stored in an hermetically sealed container will last longer than those that are sold in bulk bins since they are less exposed to heat, air and humidity. If purchasing almonds in bulk bins, make sure that the store has a quick turnover of inventory and that the bulk containers are sealed well in order to ensure maximum freshness. Look for almonds that are uniform in color and not limp or shriveled. In addition, smell the almonds. They should smell sweet and nutty; if their odor is sharp or bitter, they are rancid.
If you want almonds with a roasted flavor and texture, choose those that have been “dry roasted” as they are not cooked in oil like their regular roasted counterparts. Yet, even when purchasing “dry roasted” almonds, it is important to read the label to be sure that no additional ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup or preservatives have been added.
Since almonds have a high fat content, it is important to store them properly in order to protect them from becoming rancid. Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Keeping them cold will further protect them from rancidity and prolong their freshness. Refrigerated almonds will keep for several months, while if stored in the freezer, almonds can be kept for up to a year. Shelled almond pieces will become rancid more quickly than whole shelled almonds. Almonds still in the shell have the longest shelf life.
How to Enjoy Almonds
In addition to being eaten raw, almonds are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods.
Tips for Preparing Almonds
- Whole shelled almonds can be chopped by hand or can be placed in a food processor. If using a food processor, it is best to pulse on and off a few times, instead of running the blade constantly, as this will help ensure that you end up with chopped almonds rather than almond butter.
- To roast almonds at home, do so gently—in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes—to preserve the healthy oils.
- We don’t recommend blanching almonds because blanching nuts removes their skin and they are no longer considered a whole food. Studies have shown that the skin of nuts are nutrient-rich. For example, researchers found that the flavonoid phytonutrients found in almond skins team up with the vitamin E present in their meat to more than double the antioxidant power delivered by either one of these nutrients separately.
Quick Serving Ideas For Almond
- Add a punch to plain yogurt by mixing in some chopped almonds and dried fruit.
- Enhance a healthy saute of curried vegetables with sliced almonds.
- Add some almond butter to a breakfast shake to boost its taste and protein content.
- Almonds and apple slices make a wonderfully simple, on-the-go power snack.
- Make a delightful cold rice salad with almonds, fresh garden peas and currants.
- Add sliced almonds to chicken salad.
Negative Effects of Almond Milk
1. Nut Allergies:
Almond is a part of the list of the most popular allergic nuts; hence, consumption of almond milk by anyone with nut allergies can lead to swelling in the facial region, nausea or diarrhea.
2. Effects On Thyroid Gland:
Almond is a goiterogenic food, which means that it contains substances that can affect the thyroid gland. It can affect the iodine assimilation by the gland and thus lead to the enlargement of this gland. A counter view is that consuming almond milk can boost one’s immunity power. However, in the light of this side effect, one might be forced to think otherwise.
3. High Sugar Levels:
Almond milk contains sugar, the excess of which can lead to harmful effects on one’s health.
4. Childhood Issues:
Many people think that almond milk can ensure the healthy development of a baby and thus feed it to them. However, it has been found that though the consumption of almond milk might not display any impact on their health in the beginning but could lead to complications in the later run.
5. Milk Allergies:
People who are allergic to lactose can also have side effects of almond milk if consumed in excess. Such people can have allergic reactions after consuming almond milk and hence, avoid having it completely.
6. Skin Reactions:
Consuming almond milk can lead to skin reactions like itching, eczema and hives. These reactions mostly appear within 10 minutes to 1 hour of having consumed the flavored milk.
7. Abdominal Issues:
People who are allergic to almond milk might have to face abdominal cramps as it could become difficult for them to digest this milk.
8. Breathing And Respiration Issues:
The side effects of almond milk include breathing and respiration issues, such as wheezing and troubled breathing. This could be more frequently seen in the cases of people who are asthmatic or have any other issues with their breathing.
9. Digestive Troubles:
The people who are unable to digest almond flavoured milk could have allergic symptoms like diarrhoea or vomiting.
10. Cold-Like Symptoms:
Almond milk allergies could also lead one to face symptoms like runny nose, wheezing combined with breathing troubles. These are more prominent in people who have nut allergies; but could also be due to any other allergies as well. So, if one has any such allergy already, almond milk should be consumed carefully.
A delicious and healthy drink like almond milk, on the face of it, appears safe and healthy. However, the above listed points tell a different story! So, it is important that one consumes almond milk with caution and sparingly, not making it a part of our daily diet without consulting your doctor. Following this can permit one to enjoy it and even keep almond milk effects at bay.
So these were some of the almond milk side effects. Fear mongering is rampant today, but that does not mean there is no truth behind these rumours! Research about what you eat because ‘you are what you eat’ and everything that goes inside you can impact your health. So, be careful!
Almond Crescent Buns
- 1/4 cup margarine, softened
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Prep Cook Ready In
20 m 20 m 40 m
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (195 degrees C).
- Combine softened butter or margarine, brown sugar, flour, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/8 teaspoon almond extract. Mix well.
- Spoon mixture into 12 ungreased muffin cups.
- Separate dough into 4 long rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. Combine melted butter and 1/8 teaspoon almond extract; brush on dough. Sprinkle with nuts, and roll dough up jellyroll fashion. Cut each roll of dough into 3 slices. Place in muffin cups.
- Place muffin pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, invert rolls immediately onto cooling rack.
- Combine confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/8 teaspoon almond extract. Drizzle over hot rolls.
Negative Effects Of Almond
Although there are numerous benefits of consuming almonds, they do come with their own share of side effects. Some of almond side effects are mentioned below:
1. Gastrointestinal Problems:
Consuming a lot of almonds can lead to constipation and bloating since they are high on fiber. If your body is not used to processing large amount of fiber, it can lead to stomach upset. Since the nuts are difficult to digest, it leads to excess stress on the tummy. If you have a weak digestive system and are prone to digestive disorders, you should control your almond intake. One way to handle this is by drinking lots of water. But also keep in mind that drinking too much water leads to sodium imbalance in the body.
2. Medication Interactions:
If you are on a manganese-rich diet and you consume almonds, it might lead to drug interactions. This is because almonds are also rich in manganese. High amount of manganese in the body interacts with laxatives, antibiotics and certain blood pressure medications. You only need 1.3 to 2.3 mg of manganese in your daily diet.
3. Overdose Of Vitamin E:
We require about 15mg of Vitamin E every day. By consuming large quantities of almonds, it’s possible to reach above 1000mg of the required intake. The side effects of excess Vitamin E are diarrhea, flatulence, blurred vision, headaches and dizziness, and lethargy.
4. Weight Gain:
One of the major almond nuts side effects is weight gain. Since almonds contain 14g of fat and 163 calories per ounce. If you are not burning away sufficient amount of calories, you’ll definitely pile on the pounds as your body will store the excess calories as fat. So incorporate almonds in your daily diet as part of a meal plan. If you are maintaining your weight, make sure the almonds are part of your 2000 calorie intake. If you are trying to lose weight, then let the almonds be within the 1200-1500 calorie intake.
5. Increases Toxic Level In The Body:
This is one of the major side effects of eating almonds in excessive amounts. Bitter almonds are known to contain hydrocyanic acid, which leads to symptoms, such as slowing of the nervous system, breathing problem that can also be fatal.
6. Allergic Reactions:
This is a rare side effect, but some people have shown allergic reactions to almonds. Here the symptoms will be rashes, difficulty in breathing etc.
7. Presence Of Bacteria:
This side effect is not specific to almonds, but being a part of the nut family, almonds are prone to bacterial growth. Depending on where they are grown, almonds might be subjected to harmful bacterial growth, which can lead to health problems if consumed without proper cleaning. In fact, in many countries selling raw almonds is illegal.
So, now that you know the almonds side effects, make informed decisions and stay healthy and safe. There is no doubt about the fact that almonds are good for our health, but moderation is the key. Talk to your nutritionist and decide on how many almonds a day is good for you.
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