There are numerous good reasons why so many people proactively add almonds to their diet. There are dozens of impressive eight health benefits that you can get by eating these delicious, nutrient-dense nuts.
Surprising Facts about Almonds
- Almonds are actually the seeds from the fruits of an almond tree Prunus amygdalus. In fact, an almond is a pit of the peach.
- Almonds have the highest amount of monounsaturated fat among commonly eaten nuts.
- The United States is the biggest almond producer in the world providing over 60% of the total amount. Production is concentrated in California where 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) and six different almond varieties are under cultivation.
- The pollination of California’s almonds is the largest annual managed pollination event in the world, with close to one million hives (nearly half of all beehives in the US) being trucked in February to the almond groves.
- To prevent salmonellosis, all California almonds sold to the public are pasteurized. Raw, untreated almonds are not available in the US since 2007.
- The almond is native to the Mediterranean region. It is the fruit found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC).
- Almonds were first domesticated in the Early Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC).
- Wild bitter almonds are highly poisonous when raw because they contain a powerful toxin – glycoside amygdalin. Once metabolized, glycoside amygdalin will turn into hydrogen cyanide that can be lethal.
Nutrients in Almonds
First, we have to take a look at the almond’s content. Simply because the amazing healing power of almonds depends on what they have inside. It is a cause-effect relationship, the main principle of causality, establishing one event as the direct result of another.
Almonds are highly nutritional nuts. A handful of almonds is much more nutritious than a large bowl of potato chips. Among commonly eaten nuts, almonds have the highest amount of monounsaturated heart-healthy fats. They are also known for being high in vitamin E, fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Raw almonds have no trans fats, no cholesterol and almost no sodium. Almonds are naturally gluten-free.
What Makes Almonds Different?
Not every nut is the same when it comes to its nutritional value. Compared to all other nuts, almonds are richer in nutrients and beneficial components.
- Almonds are the lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce (23 nuts have 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat).
- Almonds have the highest amount of heart-healthy fat.
- Almonds are one of the best natural sources of vitamin E.
- Almonds don’t have polyunsaturated omega-3 fats.
8 Science-Based Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are all-around-health nuts, a gift of love from Mother Nature. Almonds are one of the most popular nuts in the world, appreciated for their delicious taste, nutritional value and many health benefits. Raw almonds are a perfect snack packed with protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Almonds can potentially reduce cancer risk
In 2017, the study by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, United States, found tree nuts might be as effective as chemotherapy to treat colon cancer. Participants who ate more than 57 g of nuts per week had a 42% lower chance of the cancer recurring, and a 57% lower chance of death than those who did not eat almonds.
Published in 2015 in “Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation” (“The Protective Effect of Peanut, Walnut, and Almond Consumption on the Development of Breast Cancer”), the study looked at nut consumption and breast cancer risk. It was found that individuals who consumed higher quantities of peanuts, walnuts, and almonds had their risk of breast cancer reduced by 2–3 times.
Almonds Help Prevent Mental Decline
In North America, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death. And the number of people with Alzheimer’s is growing. It looks like including almonds in your daily menu can help prevent this devastating, degenerative, disease. A healthy diet rich in nuts that have a high antioxidant power can delay the onset of age-related mental decline.
In the paper “Lower brain and blood nutrient status in Alzheimer’s disease”, published in 2017, a group of scientists from the Netherlands stated: “The current data show that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of choline, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Directionally, brain nutrient status appears to parallel the lower circulatory nutrient status.”
Remember, it is never too late to change your diet to maintain or even improve brain function.
Almonds can lower bad cholesterol level
The authors of the study “Almonds in the diet simultaneously improve plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations and reduce plasma lipids”, published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association”, suggest that consuming almonds lowers bad cholesterol level.
Almonds can keep your brain healthy
Almonds contain two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and L-carnitine. They play an important role in the development and health of the human brain. Studies have shown that almonds increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Almonds can prevent osteoporosis
There is another scientifically proven fact about almonds: they are a great source of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin E. Acting together, this fantastic combination of three nutrients in one small nut, 3-in-1, can keep your bones healthy.
Almonds strengthen immune system
Many nutrients contribute to our overall health. A balance diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, provides the building blocks for healthy cells. Vitamin E is one of them. Almonds are one of the best natural sources of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant stimulates immunity by neutralizing harmful free radicals. Numerous studies have shown that people who ingest high levels of vitamin E are actually 30-40% less likely to get sick of many commonly spread diseases.
Almonds can improve your heart health
Eating almonds can reduce risk of heart diseases thanks to the high concentration of beneficial monounsaturated fats.
Almonds help regulate blood pressure
High level of potassium and low level of sodium present in almonds help regulate blood pressure.
Health Risks of Almonds
Like any other nuts, you have to eat almonds with pleasure and measure. There are some potential health risks associated with overeating almonds:
- Allergy to almonds: The almond’s outer layer might cause allergic reactions. You can remove the skin or you can simply eat already blanched almonds (almonds without the skin). If you have severe allergy to almonds, it’s important to avoid any food products that may contain them. Almonds are used to make frangipane, marzipan, and praline. Almonds are also sometimes used in cakes, biscuits, bread, chocolates, ice cream, and certain liqueurs (such as Amaretto).
- Bitter almonds contain a powerful toxin: Bitter almonds are highly poisonous when raw because they contain a powerful toxin – glycoside amygdalin. When eaten, glycoside amygdalin will turn into hydrogen cyanide that can kill you (no kidding).
- Digestive problems: Due to large amounts of fiber in almonds, eating too many almonds can cause constipation and abdominal bloating. On the other hand, the high-fat content can cause diarrhea.
Almonds for Vegans
There are two things that every vegan has to pay attention to:
- There are no polyunsaturated omega-3 fats in almonds.
- Almonds have fair amount of proteins. However, almonds are low in essential amino acid lysine and the sulfur-containing essential amino acids, methionine and cysteine. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts.
Almonds for Weight Loss
Because almonds are lower in carbs and higher in protein and fiber, they can help people feel fuller for longer. If eaten in moderation, almonds can help you lose weight. The dietary fiber in almonds contributes to the sensation of feeling full, despite eating only a small amount. The mono-unsaturated fat contained in almonds satisfies the appetite and prevents over-eating. And again, don’t overeat nuts, you can gain weight instead.
How Many Almonds Can You Eat Per Day?
Don’t go nuts with almonds! When snacking on almonds, portion control is the key. Let’s do some math. One almond is about 1.2g. One serving of almonds is 23 almonds, which equals 1 ounce (28 g), or about 1 handful. It has 162 calories, 6g of protein, 14g of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and 3.5g of fiber. Doctors say that 23 almonds per day are good for your health. However, for kids two or three almonds a day are enough.
How to Eat Almonds?
Any way you want it! You can eat raw almonds, and you will enjoy all the health benefits of this delicious nut (which is actually a seed!). Almonds are widely recommended as the perfect snack. You can also top a salad, sprinkle almonds on your pizza, or apply them as a topping on your yogurt, oatmeal or favourite dessert. You can also grind them into delicious almond butter. The possibilities you can enjoy almonds are endless. Almonds are naturally gluten-free. Almond flour combined with sugar or honey as marzipan is often used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour in cooking and baking.
Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.