Almonds are among the most popular tree nuts in the entire world. They date all the way back to 1400 BC and have been studied extensively for their many contributions to health and wellness. Here are some of almond’s top benefits:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Improves bone health
- Lowers the risk of colon cancer
- Acts as a weight loss aid
- Improves and nourishes skin
- Helps improve brain health
- Beneficial for patients with diabetes
Almonds have a long and adventurous history throughout many different countries in the world. Between 600 – 900 AD almond trees flourished in places like Spain, Greece, Israel and Morocco. Their bountiful harvest fed explorers traveling from the Silk Road to China. Over time, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria were harvesting almonds too. And by the turn of the 20th century when the US entered the picture, California’s almond industry was booming. Today, almonds rank as the number 1 speciality crop export of the US. They’re considered to be among the world’s most popular tree nuts.
There are so many nutrients packed into almonds partly because they are the core nutrients that are needed for a new almond tree to grow. Scientifically classified as Prunus dulcis, almonds have more than 30 different varieties. They range in taste from sweet to bitter. Sweet almonds are edible, while the more bitter variety are used for making almond oil.
Almonds have a unique combination of nutrients that include the following: plant-based protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and monounsaturated fats. They’ve been studied extensively over time for their many benefits —- including heart health, diabetes and weight management. World renowned nutrition expert and researcher Dr. Christina Rahm Cook states, “Almonds can help to reduce heart attack risk. Those who consume nuts five times a week have about a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart attack according to the Loma Linda School of Public Health.”
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, almonds are a rich, nutritious source of fiber, protein, potassium, zinc, magnesium and essential vitamins and minerals. Inside, you’ll find a good amount of copper, phosphorus and vitamin B2 as well. When you compare almonds to almost any other nut, they rank higher in terms of nutrients and overarching benefits.
The Almond Board of California lists the following nutritional facts for 1 oz. or 28 grams of almonds:
Total Fat: 14 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 0 grams
Total Carbs: 6 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Total Sugars 1 gram
Protein 6 grams
Calcium: 75 mg
Iron: 1 mg
Potassium: 210 mg
Vitamin E: 7.3 mg
Magnesium: 76 mg
Riboflavin: .3 mg
Almonds are beneficial to weight loss in a variety of ways. They are a low carb food that is also high in protein and fiber —- both of which are known to help increase the feeling of fullness. One month long study showed that a daily 1.5 ounce serving of almonds significantly reduced both the feelings of hunger and the desire to eat.
Fiber also contributes to consistent, healthy bowel movements. This can aid in both weight loss and in the regular elimination of toxins. Another study involving 100 overweight women found those participants who consumed almonds lost more weight than those who did not consume nuts. They also showed a decrease in waist circumference, as well as other positive health benefits.
The presence of manganese, copper and riboflavin in almonds help improve metabolic rate as well as energy production. At Purdue University a study was conducted which revealed that including almonds with a mid-day meal even helped reduce the after-lunch memory decline in overweight and obese study participants.
Almonds are an amazing source of antioxidants. They help protect against oxidative stress which can inflame the cells of the body and contribute to premature aging. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It has the ability to build up in your cell membranes and help protect them from damage. In fact, almonds are among the word’s best natural sources of vitamin E.
Sweet almond oil contains particularly high levels of fatty acids. It has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. One study found that a moisturizer containing sweet almond oil and colloidal oatmeal was both safe and effective in treating patients suffering from dermatitis.
The National Cancer Center has done a lot of extensive research on the link between diets that are high in fiber and a reduced risk of colon cancer. Because almonds are rich in fiber, they improve the movement of food through our colon. This helps prevent build up and therefore reduces the possibility of cancer developing in the first place.
In 2017, a study published in the American Society of Clinical Oncology on 826 patients with colon cancer found that those who ate 2 or more ounces of tree nuts a week—- including almonds —- had a 42% lower chance of cancer recurrence and a 57% lower risk of death that two who did not consume nuts.
Almonds may also have a protective effect on the development of breast cancer. Research conducted at the University of Colima in Mexico revealed that many types of nuts, including almonds can help to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer by 2 – 3 times.
The level of antioxidants and vitamin E in almonds may also provide some cancer-fighting properties. However, more studies are need to determine conclusive results.
Almonds have many positive benefits to offer when it comes to heart health. The protein, potassium and mono-saturated fats in almonds are all key to protecting this vital organ.
Almonds contain a lot of vitamin E. It acts as an antioxidant known for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. The presence of magnesium may also aid in helping to prevent heart attacks as well.
Research done at Aston University on healthy men ranging in age from 20 – 70 suggested that a short-term diet enriched with almonds may improve vascular function. It seems that the flavonoids found in almond skins combine with vitamin E to to create a strong shield against damage to artery walls.
Almonds are also a good source of folic acid. Folic acid helps to reduce homocysteine levels, which contributes to the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries.
At Pennsylvania State University, a research study showed that almonds were found to reduce LDL cholesterol and central adiposity. These are both risk factors for cardiometabolic dysfunction. At the same time, they helped maintain HDL cholesterol concentrations. This balance is vital to keep cholesterol at a healthy level.
High blood pressure is a common condition where the force of blood against artery walls can, over time, lead to heart disease. Fortunately, almonds may be of some assistance in helping patients fight against high blood pressure.
According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet high in monounsaturated fats may help lower blood pressure when compared to a diet high in saturated fats. Almonds have more monosaturated fats per ounce than many other nuts —- including cashews, walnuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
In the journal Circulation, research revealed that participants who had high cholesterol significantly reduced their risk factors of having coronary artery disease, including high blood pressure, when almonds were introduced into their diet.
Another study conducted at the Hypertension Institute in Nashville, TN reported that “protein source is an important factor in the BP effect; animal protein being less effective than non-animal or plant protein, especially almond.”
As more research is conducted, more evidence points to the fact that adding almonds to a diabetes-friendly diet could be beneficial in improving risk factors for the disease.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, a study showed that consuming an American Diabetes Assoc. diet, where 20% of calories are coming from almonds, helped improve insulin sensitivity for pre-diabetes patients. The fiber and unsaturated fats found in almonds also helped maintain blood glucose levels as well as cholesterol.
Another study published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental suggested that incorporating almonds into the National Cholesterol Education Program Step II Diet can improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
Almonds contain a high level of magnesium. Some experimental studies have suggested that magnesium may reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes as well. In a study conducted in 2011, research showed that consuming 2 ounces of almonds was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose. Participants reduced their caloric intake by enough to accommodate the addition of almonds, so no extra calories were consumed.
All in all, almonds are nutritionally beneficially for most people and may be especially good for people suffering from diabetes. Various studies have shown that almonds may reduce a rise in blood sugar and insulin level after meals.
Due to its many nutrients, almonds have a strong link to the development and health of the brain. They are often considered an essential food for growing children.
Studies tell us that almonds and almond oil help nourish the body and improve function of the nervous system. Almonds contain two very important brain nutrients —- riboflavin and L-carnitine. Both have been linked to increased brain activity that results in the formation of new neural pathways. These new pathways are thought to decrease the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Initial animal studies show very positive results, but more human studies are needed to substantiate these findings.
Almonds are a great source of many different vitamins and minerals. One of them is phosphorus. Phosphorus has a big impact on the strength and durability of our bones and teeth. It may help to prevent conditions like osteoporosis, which allows bones to break down as we age.
Almonds are also rich in the amino acid lysine. Lysine speeds up the body’s ability to absorb calcium —- long known for helping bones to grow and stay strong. According to a study at the University of Toronto, consuming almonds has been associated with increased bone mineral density as well.
Allergies to almonds are common, so be mindful if you develop the following symptoms after eating almonds or any products that may contain them:
- nausea and vomiting
- problems swallowing
- stomach pains, cramps or diarrhea
- difficulty breathing
Almonds are high in calories and fat, so overconsumption (more than 1 ounce daily) may lead to weight gain.
1 ounce of almonds also contains 1/2 of your daily vitamin E requirement. Eating too many almonds could also lead to an overdose of Vitamin E. This may result in nausea and a stomach ache.
If you have kidney or gall bladder problems, avoid eating almonds. They contain oxalates which can trigger crystallization if you eat too many.
Almonds are high in fiber. Eating too many can cause abdominal bloating or constipation if you are not used to eating large amounts of fiber. Drink water to help your body handle the fiber intake.
Almonds contain a high amount of manganese. 1 ounce provides 27% of the daily value. This is not a bad thing, unless you consume too many almonds. If you do, especially in addition to a manganese-rich diet, almonds can trigger drug interactions. High quantities of manganese can interfere with certain antibiotics, blood pressure medication, laxatives, antacids and antipsychotic drugs.
Although there is no specific dosing of almonds per say, the recommended serving is small —about 1 ounce or approximately 23 kernels due to their high caloric and fat content. The Food and Drug Administration states that daily consumption should be no more than 1/3 cup, or approximately 40 grams.
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