15 Health Benefits of Almonds
Eating almonds may help to loose weight. Research revealed that a consumption of almonds beneficially affects profile of lipids. One study compared individuals who consumed almonds to those who consumed carbohydrate-rich snacks. The results had shown that people who snacked on almonds lost body fat. In particular, it was recorded that the abdominal fat and leg fat has been reduced. (1) Another study which investigated the effects of a hypocaloric almond-enriched diet had shown that almond enriched diet led to a greater weight loss than nut-free diet. Similar findings were observed in another investigation of weight patterns where almond low-calorie-diet and carbohydrate low-calorie-diet were examined. Here, the almond group experienced a sustained and greater weight reduction than a high carbohydrate diet (that is a group that did not consume nuts). (14, 15)
Research has also revealed that almonds help to reduce hunger. One study, published by European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, had shown that individuals who consumed almonds experienced a reduction in hunger and desire to eat. (2) Eating as many as 1.5 ounces of almonds, or 35 pieces, has shown to be the most effective. Participants of one study who consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds experienced the highest reduction in an appetite in comparison to a groups that consumed 1 or 0 ounce of almonds (see the table below). Similar findings were noted in a longer term clinical study in which 137 at risk of type II diabetes otherwise healthy individuals were tested. In this study, a reduction of hunger and desire to eat were observed among participants who consumed 1.5 oz (43 grams) of almonds either as a snack or as a part of a meal. (13)
Interestingly, eating almonds does not cause a weight gain. Despite of the calories contributed from almonds, no change in weight over the course of studies among participants has been observed.(13) As expressed in The Journal of Nutrition “[n]uts are among the most energy-dense foods consumed, yet the literature consistently documents little impact of their ingestion on body weight.” (18) Also, studies revealed that there was no increase in a daily calorie intake as well. (13)
Read More: Fiber in Nuts
Which nuts to buy? Where to buy?
Organic. Many nuts varieties including almonds as well as walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts are sprayed with pesticides in the conventional growing. These chemicals may be detrimental to health. Some of them are carcinogens others disrupt hormones, cause neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity. These chemicals may not only be deleterious to health but also to the land and ecosystems. For example, chlorpyrifos and phosmet, pesticides used in cultivating almonds, are found to be highly toxic to bees. See More: Pesticides in Almonds and Health Effects presented by whatsonmyfood.org. Sources: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=33 and http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=AL
Organic almonds from Amazon (highly rated):
- Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Unpasteurized Organic Almonds (Sproutable), 16 Ounce (cost $14.99)
- Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Unpasteurized Organic Almonds (Sproutable), 2 lbs (cost $25.99)
- Jiva Organics Raw Unpasteurized Organic Almonds (Sproutable) 2 Pound Bag (cost $23.98)
- Braga Organic Farms Almonds, Natural, 2 Pound (cost $34.99)
Variety of nuts including unpasteurized almonds from Europe:
Almonds are rich in fiber. Fiber is important for optimal health. Its long-term implications are associated with several diseases including a coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, and metabolic dysfunctions (pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes). A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition stated that “eating patterns high in certain fibers are known to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and decrease insulin resistance in people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes; help with both weight loss and maintenance; and improve bowel regularity and gastrointestinal health.” (12)
Despite the importance of fiber, people seem to fail to meet their daily recommended fiber requirements. (12) Daily requirements for man 50 and younger are 38 grams of fiber and for women 25 grams. For the older group, that is man and women 50 years of age and older, a daily requirement for fiber is 30 grams among men and 21 grams among women (see the table to the left). (17) According to to the study published in the Journal of Nutrition, over 90% of adults and children do not meet these standards.(12) To meet the recommended fiber intake health professionals advice to eat foods rich in fiber. The FDA guidance considers foods rich in fiber if they provide over 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. Almonds fit these criteria and even exceed it well over the minimum recommended value. A standard serving of almonds (30g) provides 3.2 gram of fiber, or 15%DV (15 % of daily recommended value based on 2,000 calorie diet). (6, 7, 8) Almonds seem to be a great food choice that can help to satisfy a recommended fiber requirements.
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When comparing almonds to other nuts, they rank top one in the fiber content. In a standard serving, they offer more fiber than pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, and cashews. See the table below for more.
Read more: carbohydrates in almonds
Almonds contain significant amount of protein. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, hair, nails and skin and helps repair tissues in the body.” (19) Higher-protein consumption had shown to lead to improvements in a cardio-metabolic health. Evidence has shown that increased protein consumption also aids to maintain weight and/or impedes weight regain. A recent study published by American Society for Nutrition revealed that “higher-protein energy-restriction diets lead to greater weight loss, fat mass loss, and preservation of lean mass” compared with a lower-protein consumption. (20)
Almonds are considered good source of protein. In generally, foods that contain 5%DV (daily value) or more of a nutrient in a single serving are a good source of that nutrient. A standard serving of almonds satisfy this standard. A standard serving (or 30 grams) of almonds provides 6g of protein, or 13%DV (13% of recommended daily value based on 2,000 calorie diet).(6, 7) Interestingly, in comparison to other nuts, almonds contain more protein than most of their counterparts as they rank top three in the amount of protein they contain (see the table below).
Almonds, in particular, contain significant amounts Arginine, an amino acid that is the building block of protein. Arignine is converted to nitric oxide which causes blood vessels to relax and remain elastic. These effects prevent blood clotting. Blood clotting along with a hardening of the arteries can lead to heart disease. (8)
#4.Rich source of ‘healthy’ fats
Almonds are rich in unsaturated fats. Predominantly they are rich in monounsaturated fats. (5) In 30 grams, or a standard serving, almonds contain 15 grams of total fat of which 9 grams constitute monounsaturated fats (see the table below). Monounsaturated fats are known as ‘better fats’. These fats are important for health as they can reduce the risk of heart disease. (21) They also lower the total cholesterol, reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), and maintain beneficial cholesterol (HDL). One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) demonstrated that “replacing the saturated fat calories with good monounsaturated fat (MUFA) instead of carbohydrate lower[ed] total and LDL cholesterol as effectively as a low-fat diet…” (21,22)
Almonds are not only rich in monounsaturated fats but also have low proportion of saturated fats. One serving of almonds, equal to 30 grams, contains only 1 gram of this fat. (6) Substituting saturated fats with natural monounsaturated fats may help to lower cholesterol levels and keep heart healthy. Many sources suggest to replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats to attain optimal health benefits. (21, 23)
Almonds are not only cholesterol-free but also beneficially effect cholesterol in the body. (5) Research had shown that almonds lower the LDL cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and maintain HDL cholesterol, or ‘good’ cholesterol. One study found that “a 73 gram serve of almonds each day reduced LDL cholesterol by almost 10% while 37 gram serve, or approximately a handful of almonds, reduced LDL by around 5%.” (5) Many studies demonstrated that a consumption of 1 to 4 ounces of almonds per day resulted in a significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels. (13)
Research has shown that almonds are also effective in lowering LDL cholesterol as a part of cholesterol-lowering foods diet. This diet, known as Portfolio Eating Plan diet, consists of consuming less than 7% of calories derived from saturated fat, less than 200 mg of cholesterol, almonds (30 g or 1 oz/day), fiber (approximately 20 grams/day), vegetable protein (approximately 80 grams/day), and plant sterols (approx. 2 grams/day). Investigations had shown that people who followed this diet experienced a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol. In particular, 30% reduction in LDL cholesterols was noted among study participants and 13% among subsequent followers. (13) See More: The Portfolio Diet and Harvard Health Publications
Results from the studies suggest that there is a “dose effect” of almonds on cholesterol level. This means that the cholesterol lowering effects are proportional to the amount of almonds consumed. In one study, three groups consisting total of 27 adults with high cholesterol were fed with a heart-healthy diets and almonds as snacks for over three months. One group was fed with 2.8 ounces of almonds, another with 1.3 ounces of almonds, and another with a low-saturated-fat wholewheat muffins. Researchers found that participants fed with almonds experienced reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and the group fed with 1.3 ounce portion had a lower reduction (4.4%) than the group fed with 2.8 ounce of almonds (9.4%). (13)
#6. Heart Health
Research suggests that eating almonds may reduce risk of a cardiovascular disease. Evidence had shown that almonds beneficially effect cholesterol, they help to lower the blood pressure and aid to lessen an inflammation which contribute to the prevention of heart disease. (3, 13) Almonds contain significant amounts of amino acids called Arginine which are important to heart health. Arginine help blood vessels to relax and remain elastic and subsequently prevent blood clotting which may lead to heart disease.(5) Moreover, almonds are nutrient dense foods. They are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins. All these factors in a combination promote health to the heart. (5, 13)
Almonds may exhibit prebiotic effects. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates which stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.(5) They promote ‘good bacteria’. “Prebiotics are important as they may enhance calcium absorption and improve gastrointestinal health.(9) It was observed that individuals who consumed almonds and almond skins had an improved profile of microbiota in the intestines. (10)
#8. Glucose levels
Many controlled studies have been conducted to investigate effects of almonds in relation to a glucose in a blood. A scientific evidence suggests that almonds exhibit a beneficial effects on a blood glucose.(13) “Researchers have found that the addition of almonds to a meal can reduce the rise in blood glucose which occurs after eating” and can have beneficial long term effects. (5, 13) The amount of almonds consumed seem to have a direct impact on the glucose levels in the blood. One study revealed that “the more almonds that were added to the meal, the greater the effect on blood glucose levels” were observed. (5)
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Almonds contain array of antioxidants and studies had shown that almonds reduce an oxidative stress. An oxidative stress causes damage to the cells and to DNA. An oxidative stress is presumed to be an important factor that contributes to a development of numerous diseases including heart disease, cataracts and macular degeneration. It also plays a role in the aging process. Studies had shown that an oxidative stress has been reduces when almonds were added to meals. Eating almonds with a meal reduced oxidative damage as well as DNA damage. One study revealed that eating as much as 84g of almonds for 4 weeks was sufficient to reduce biomarkers of oxidative stress among smokers. (5, 24, 26)
#10. Excellent source of vitamin E
Almonds are rich source of vitamin E. A standard serving, or 30 grams of almonds, provides 8 mg of this vitamin, or 40%DV (40% of a recommended daily value based on 2,000 calorie diet). (6, 7) Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects cells from damaging effects caused by free radicals which, subsequently, may lead to cancer. Vitamin E also blocks formation of cancer causing agents, such as nitrosamines that are formed from food in a stomach. (5) Vitamin E plays a role in strengthening immunity and it may prevent or delay a coronary heart disease. Some limited evidence demonstrated that vitamin E may be beneficial for managing a fatty liver diseases as well as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, that is, disorders that are common causes of vision loss among aged group of people. Evidence also suggests that Vitamin E may provide protection in developing cognitive decline and disorders such as Alzheimer. (11, 16)
Almonds not only are rich in Vitamin E but they also rank top one in its content when compared to other nuts. Almonds contain almost twice as much of vitamin E as Hazelnuts, nuts that are also a rich source of this vitamin. See the table blow for more.
Almonds are also good source of riboflavin commonly known as vitamin B2. A standard serving of almonds (or 30g) contains 0.3mg or %17DV (17 % of daily recommended value based on 2,000 calorie diet). (6, 7) Riboflavin is an integral component of several coenzymes and it plays role in energy production and in myriad of metabolic pathways. Riboflavin intake has been shown to decrease the occurrence and severity of headaches. Emerging evidence shows that it may also play a preventive role in cataracts and hypertension. Its deficiency can impact the metabolism of vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and iron. Riboflavin deficiency has been also linked to preeclampsia, a disorder associated with a sharp rise in a blood pressure during pregnancy. (11)
Almonds are rich source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. A standard serving of almonds (30g) provides 0.6mg (34%DV) of manganese, 80mg (20%DV) of magnesium, 146mg (15%DV) of phosphorus, and 0.3mg (15%DV) of copper (see the table below for more). (7)
- a constituent and activator of enzymes; it is also important for a wound healing and bone development
- its deficiency has been associated with several chronic diseases (more research is still needed)
- plays an important role in a structure and function of human body; it is involved in energy production, formation of essential molecules, ion transport, and cell signaling
- its deficiency has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, metabolic disorders such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus
- a major component of bone, as well as cell membrane and nucleic acid; it is also involved in bone mineralization, energy production, cell signaling and regulation of homeostasis (a state of balance)
- its deficiencies are uncommon; however, an inadequate phosphorus intake may lead to loss of an appetite, anemia, muscle weakness, bone pain, elevated susceptibility to infection, numbness and tingling of the extremities, difficulty walking, and respiratory failure
- a component of enzymes; plays a role in an energy production, tissue formation, iron metabolism and proper functioning of brain and nervous system
- a slight copper imbalance has been linked to impaired functioning of an immune system and bone demineralization; copper imbalance also has been associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases (11)
- plays an important role in an energy production and metabolism; it is also involved in oxygen transport and storage as well as DNA synthesis; it exhibits antioxidant and beneficial pro-oxidant functions
- its deficiency may lead to anemia, lead poisoning in children, impaired immune functions, complications during pregnancy
- plays important roles in growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction
- its deficiency may lead to impaired growth, development and immune system functioning as well as adverse outcomes during pregnancy (11)
#13. Fight microbes
Almonds exhibit antimicrobal properties. The polyphenols found in almonds’ skin are believed to be responsible for almonds’ antimirobal capabilities. The polyphenols present in almond skins were found to actively fight against a range of food-borne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. “Natural almond skins were also active against the Gram-negative food-borne pathogen Salmonella enterica.”(4)
#14. Anti-inflammatory properties
Antioxidants and other phytochemicals play an important role in reducing inflammation. Inflammation if a process in which your body recognizes anything as foreign and initiates an attack. Normally, inflammation threatens the invaders and serves as a defender. However, an inflammation may persist even without invaders. Chronic inflammation is thought to be an underlying mechanism that causes diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies had shown that consumption of 68g or two handfuls of almonds can reduce some biomarkers of inflammation. (5,25)
Read More: Health Benefits of Almonds Beyond a Cholesterol Reduction (anti-inflammation)
Almonds contain several compounds that have been found to promote health. Almonds contain polyphenols, which have been shown to be protective agents against cancer and cardiovascular disease. In particular, polyphenols called flavonoid found in almonds have been well recognized for their anticancer, antiviral, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory activities. (4) Almonds also contain sterols. Sterols can help to lower cholesterol levels by decreasing its reabsorption in the intestine. (5) For intersting recipes check-out: The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook
Disclaimer: This article is offered for information purposes only and is protected under freedom of speech. It is not medical advice nor should it be construed as such. Nothing in this article is intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Always work with a qualified health professional before making any changes to your diet, prescription drug use, lifestyle or exercise activates. This information is provided as-is, and the reader assumes all risks from the use, non-use or misuse of this information.