Almonds are one of my favorite go-to snacks. They're tasty, convenient, and pack a serious nutritional punch. But why exactly are almonds so good for you? Let's dig into the science-backed health benefits of this nutritious nut.
Almonds Are Loaded with Nutrients That Your Body Needs
Pop some almonds and you’re doing your body a solid favor. Almonds are rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that provide some major health perks.
Almonds are among the best sources of vitamin E, an essential antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage and inflammation in the body. Just 1 ounce of almonds delivers 37% of your daily vitamin E needs.
These tasty nuts are also packed with protein – a 1 ounce serving provides 6 grams, which will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Almonds contain higher fiber than most other nuts, with 3.5 grams per ounce. This fiber aids digestion and gut health.
Some of the other nutrients found in abundant amounts in almonds include:
- Magnesium - essential for bone health, energy production, and muscle and nerve function
- Manganese - helps form connective tissue, bones, and blood clotting factors
- Copper - needed for iron absorption and red blood cell formation
- Phosphorous - supports bone health and cell membranes
Almonds also contain a variety of antioxidants like flavonoids, polyphenols, and phenolic acids that act as free radical scavengers in the body.
Research has shown that the high antioxidant content of almonds has strong anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.
So it’s clear that almonds pack in an array of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and antioxidants that your body depends on for optimal function.
Almonds Can Lower Bad Cholesterol and Promote Heart Health
If you want to keep your heart happy and healthy, make almonds a part of your daily diet. Research shows almonds have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.
Almonds are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids - the “good” kind of fats that are heart healthy.
Several studies have found that adding almonds to diets reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL aka “bad”) cholesterol while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL aka “good”) cholesterol.
In one analysis of five studies, participants eating 1.5–3.5 ounces of almonds daily for 4–12 weeks showed an average 4.4 mg/dL drop in LDL cholesterol. And their HDL cholesterol increased an average of 2.4 mg/dL.
Almonds also contain phytosterols. These compounds are similar in structure to cholesterol and help block the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the intestines.
The high content of magnesium in almonds also promotes heart health. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and prevents sudden spikes that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
With their stellar nutrient profile and ability to improve cholesterol levels, it’s no wonder almonds are associated with up to a 50% reduced risk of heart disease.
So if you want to show your ticker some love, toss back a handful of almonds each day. Your heart will thank you!
Almonds Can Help With Weight Management
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for nutritious snacks that can help me manage my weight. And research suggests almonds fit the bill.
Though relatively high in fat and calories, almonds are very satiating. Thanks to all that protein, fiber, and good fats.
Several studies have found that snacking on almonds instead of other less nutrient-dense foods promotes feeling full. And results in less total calorie intake throughout the day.
In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate 1.5 ounces of dry roasted almonds daily experienced reduced hunger and appetite. And didn’t compensate by eating more at subsequent meals.
Research also associates higher nut consumption with lower risks of weight gain and obesity.
This may be due to the effect almonds have on metabolism. Studies show almonds increase resting energy expenditure compared to control diets. So you can burn more calories just by eating almonds!
Plus, chewing almonds thoroughly to release all their nutrients may also help curb overeating.
So don’t be afraid to snack on almonds if you’re watching your weight. They are very satiating and deliver a dose of nutrients your body needs.
Almonds Help Build Strong Bones
Crunching on almonds does more than just strengthen your jaw muscles. The nutrients in almonds support the health of your bones too.
Almonds provide a decent amount of calcium – about 75 mg per ounce. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones.
They are also one of the best food sources of phosphorus. With 137 mg per ounce, almonds provide more than 20% of your daily needs.
Phosphorus teaming up with calcium produces a major bone boosting duo. About 85% of phosphorus is found in bones and teeth.
The magnesium in almonds – 80 mg per ounce – also lends a hand in bone health. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of cellular reactions and proper calcium absorption.
Vitamin K in almonds activates osteocalcin, a protein responsible for anchoring calcium to bones. Just an ounce of almonds delivers about 10% of your vitamin K RDI.
While almonds won’t provide all your daily bone nutrient needs, adding them to your diet ensures you get a constant supply of key minerals for healthy bones.
Almonds Provide Mostly Heart-Healthy Fats
Nuts and nut butters used to get a bad rap for being high in fat. But now we know that the key is the type of fat. And almonds contain mostly beneficial fats.
The majority – about 90% – of the fat in almonds comes from unsaturated fatty acids. That’s the kind that’s good for your cholesterol and heart health.
Almonds contain both monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
The MUFAs in almonds – largely oleic acid – have been found to decrease LDL cholesterol and lower heart disease risk.
PUFAs like the omega-6 linoleic acid and omega-3 ALA fatty acids in almonds also offer protections for the ticker. They help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, arrhythmias, and bad cholesterol.
Almonds do contain some saturated fat - about 10% of their total fat content. But it’s not as harmful as once believed. Studies show nut consumption has cardio protective effects despite their saturated fat content.
So sprinkle on those almonds without worry. The majority of their fats are the heart-healthy kind your body thrives on.
Almonds Keep Your Digestive System Regular
If you struggle with irregularity, almonds can help get things moving smoothly through your system.
Almonds are one of the best nut sources of fiber, with 3.5 grams per ounce. That’s about 14% of the daily recommended intake.
This fibrous texture of almonds requires thorough chewing to break down. Which slows digestion and promotes satiety.
The insoluble fiber in almonds isn’t digested at all. It passes through the digestive tract largely intact. This fiber helps add bulk and moisture to stools, preventing constipation.
Almond skins are also rich in prebiotics. These nondigestible carbs act as food for probiotics in the gut. They stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria that support regularity.
Thanks to all this insoluble fiber and prebiotics, almonds keep waste moving optimally through the intestines. Preventing issues like bloating, cramps, and irregular stools.
So if you’re backed up, add some almonds to your diet. An ounce a day can get things flowing smoothly and promote regularity.
Early Research Indicates Almonds May Sharpen Your Memory
This brain-boosting benefit of almonds is still in early stages of research. But so far, studies in animals look promising.
Several rodent studies have demonstrated improved memory and cognition with almond supplementation.
Researchers think this nootropic effect may stem from antioxidants like vitamin E, melatonin, and polyphenols abundant in almonds.
These antioxidants help fight oxidative damage in the brain that can impair cognition. Almonds also provide key nutrients needed for proper neurotransmitter synthesis.
In one study, just 2% dietary almond supplementation reversed rodent memory deficits and oxidative stress caused by scopolamine injections.
More research is still needed to confirm memory benefits in humans. But based on the early animal research, almonds show potential to sharpen your memory, focus, and quick thinking.
What’s the Recommended Daily Amount of Almonds?
Now that you know all the amazing benefits almonds can have, you’re probably wondering how many to eat each day.
According to nutrition experts, 1 to 1.5 ounces of almonds per day is an optimal intake. That’s about 20 to 30 almonds.
This serving size will provide a solid nutritional boost without going overboard on calories. It’s also an amount shown in studies to deliver health perks.
Consuming around 30 grams (1 ounce) of almonds daily may:
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Reduce blood sugar spikes after carb-heavy meals
- Provide nearly half your vitamin E RDA
- Supply a good dose of bone-supporting magnesium and phosphorus
For diabetics, studies show benefits from 20 to 45 almonds per day in better managing blood glucose and insulin levels.
And just 1 handful or about 45 almonds can reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Of course, the exact amount that’s ideal can depend on your individual calorie needs and health goals.
But for most healthy adults, 1 to 1.5 ounces of almonds per day can provide valuable protective nutrients without excess calories.
Start Reaping the Benefits of Almonds
Almonds nutrition profile is hard to beat. These crunchy nuts are dense in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats that benefit your entire body.
Research shows almond consumption can:
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Help manage weight
- Support bone strength
- Promote heart health
- Aid regularity
- And possibly even boost brain function
Aim for 1 to 1.5 ounces of almonds per day to reap these nutritional perks. Add almonds to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt and more for a satisfying, healthy crunch.
With all their proven benefits, almonds deserve a spot in your daily snacks and meals. Your mind and body will thank you!