Health Benefit of Almonds
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 one (1) ounce serving, 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 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.
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.
Nuts are low in carbs, but high in healthy fats, protein and fiber. This makes them a perfect choice for diabetics. However, another thing that sets almonds apart, is their remarkably high amount of magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral involved in more than 300 bodily processes, including blood sugar control. We have a magnesium spray that we have in the yoga studio so if someone says their muscle aches, we just spray some on and in a minute or 2 the ache is gone.
It turns out that 25-38% of type 2 diabetics are deficient in magnesium, and correcting the deficiency significantly lowers blood sugar levels and improves the function of insulin. Interestingly, people without diabetes also see major reductions in insulin resistance when supplementing with magnesium. This indicates that high magnesium foods (like almonds) may be beneficial for prevention of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, both of which are massive health problems today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nuts contain several nutrients that are hard for the body to break down and digest. About 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t absorbed, and there is some evidence that eating nuts can boost metabolism slightly.
Combined with the hunger-fighting properties, it makes sense that nuts are a great addition to an effective weight loss diet.
So, despite being high in fat, almonds are most definitely a weight loss friendly food.
However, they may cause problems for people who are prone to binge eating, as they can be quite “more-ish.”
Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss.
All things considered, almonds are as close to perfect as a food can get. Check out our recipe section to add more almonds to your diet.