The health benefits of almonds are potent and plentiful. Rich in healthy fats and nutrients such as magnesium, this food supports weight loss, and it can help lower cholesterol.
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Food is a powerful tool that can be used to maintain and improve your health.
Almonds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, rich in nutrients that can help your body maintain wellness and fight off disease in these stressful, unpredictable times. The health benefits of almonds include an ability to lower cholesterol; this food may also lower blood pressure and bring reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Read on to learn more about the almond and its nutrient profile. We’ll also examine some of the key ways in which eating almonds can improve your health.
The scoop on almonds
Though they are widely referred to as tree nuts, almonds are actually seeds. They are the edible seeds of the almond tree, which is native to Iran and surrounding regions.
Even though the tree’s natural habitat is in the Middle East, the United States grows more almonds than any other country in the world. A whopping 82 percent of all almonds produced globally are grown in California. Spain, Iran, Morocco, Turkey and Italy are also top almond producers.
You have many choices when it comes to almond consumption:
- This low-glycemic food can be eaten raw or roasted, with the almond skin intact or without it.
- It may be consumed as almond butter or almond milk.
- And if you’re looking for a substitute for white flour that won’t spike your blood sugar levels, try almond flour instead.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 579 calories in 100 grams of almonds. That portion contains the following nutrients:
- Protein – 21.15 g
- Carbohydrates – 21.55 g
- Calcium – 269 mg
- Iron – 3.71 mg
- Magnesium – 270 mg
- Phosphorus – 481 mg
- Potassium – 733 mg
- Sodium – 1 mg
- Zinc – 3.12 mg
- Copper – 1.031 mg
- Manganese – 2.179 mg
- Selenium – 4.1 µg
- Thiamin – 0.205 mg
- Riboflavin – 1.138 mg
- Niacin – 3.618 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.471 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.137 mg
- Folate – 44 µg
- Choline – 52.1 mg
- Betaine – 0.5 mg
- Beta carotene – 1 µg
- Vitamin A – 2 IU
- Lutein + zeaxanthin – 1 µg
- Vitamin E – 25.63 mg
- Saturated fatty acids – 3.802 g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids – 31.551 g
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids – 12.329 g
Now that you know what kind of nutrition almonds provide, let’s take a look at the ways in which this superfood can benefit your health.
Health benefit #1: Almonds may help lower LDL cholesterol
Many of us know about the perils of high cholesterol. It’s a key risk factor in conditions such as heart disease. Cholesterol gets a bad rap, but not all types are dangerous.
There are two main types of cholesterol:
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
Most of the cholesterol found in our body is of the LDL variety. This type of cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Over time, it can accumulate on the walls of your blood vessels. This can cause the vessels to narrow, preventing blood from getting to the heart. The blockage that’s created can ultimately cause angina or a heart attack.
Our bodies also produce small amounts of HDL cholesterol. Believe it or not, this type of cholesterol can actually help improve heart health and ward off cardiovascular disease. It absorbs LDL cholesterol and assists the liver in flushing it from the body.
Research shows that almonds contains good fats that may help lower your LDL cholesterol levels:
- A 2010 study fed 65 adult participants with prediabetes a diet that derived 20 percent of its calories from almonds. At the end of the 16-week study, the participants on the almond diet had experienced a clinically significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels.
- In another study, participants were put on an eating plan that included 1.5 ounces of almonds per day, and this caused them to experience a drop in total LDL cholesterol. Notably, almonds achieved this without lowering the levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
This makes the almond a heart-healthy food that can lower cholesterol. Eat at least a handful of almonds each week to help maintain satisfactory cholesterol levels.
Health benefit #2: Almonds may help prevent cancer
- It’s estimated that roughly 42,170 women will die from breast cancer this year.
- This ailment is expected to take the lives of 520 men during the same time period.
Almonds and other nuts appear to offer protection. A 2015 study showed that participants who consumed high amounts of peanuts, walnuts and almonds were two to three times less likely to develop breast cancer.
Note that this protective benefit wasn’t present with low or moderate consumption of these foods.
Reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by consuming at least a serving of almonds per day.
Health benefit #3: Almonds may help lower blood sugar levels
Diabetes and prediabetes are conditions that affect more than 100 million Americans. In 2015, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in this country.
People with diabetes often have high blood sugar, which is called hyperglycemia. Research indicates that almonds may help with the management of blood sugar levels.
A 2011 study tracked 20 people with type 2 diabetes:
- Participants were put on a diet that included 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of almonds per day over the course of 12 weeks.
- Those who consumed almonds reported improvements in blood sugar levels.
Eat a couple ounces of almonds each day to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Health benefit #4: Almonds may help lower high blood pressure
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure. This condition can put you at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Almonds are a good source of magnesium, and this has implications regarding blood pressure:
- Magnesium deficiency has been linked with high blood pressure.
- Studies show that correcting this deficiency can help to significantly decrease a person’s blood pressure levels.
Including almonds in your diet can provide you with the magnesium you need to stave off high blood pressure.
Health benefit #5: Almonds may help with weight management
Many of us struggle with unwanted weight gain from time to time. Almonds have qualities that may help promote weight loss:
- Almonds contain lots of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
- This makeup of nutrients can leave you feeling full and reduce your appetite.
- This may ultimately cause a reduction in caloric intake, and consuming fewer calories may ultimately help you lose weight.
In one study, a mid-morning almond snack was shown to increase satiety in ways that can have a positive effect on appetite control.
This superfood may help make it easier for you to stick to a low-calorie diet. Add a moderate amount of almonds to your diet if you’re hoping to shed a few pounds.
Health benefit #6: Almonds may help prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol
We’ve already mentioned that almonds can help lower LDL cholesterol. But this tree nut accomplishes more than mere cholesterol reduction as it works to protect heart health.
LDL cholesterol can cause problems when it’s present in your blood. But these problems can become even more severe if this cholesterol is pummeled by oxidative stress. Oxidized LDL cholesterol is a primary cause of heart disease.
Almond skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants. These antioxidants work powerfully to fight harmful free radicals that can cause oxidation.
In a 2005 study, the flavonoids found in almonds were shown to help prevent cholesterol oxidation. You can help your body ward off oxidation by regularly including almonds in your diet.
Whether you’re looking to lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar or lose weight, nutritionists agree that almonds have beneficial properties that can support you on your journey. This food is great for snacking, and it can also be integrated into larger meals, from breakfast to dinner.
Best of all, almonds are compatible with a wide range of eating plans:
- If you’re on a keto path, these tree nuts help you stay in ketosis by providing healthy monounsaturated fats.
- This plant-based food also works well for vegans.
- And if you’re following a more traditional Mediterranean diet that includes choices such as avocados and olive oil, almonds are a great choice.
Fresh N’ Lean provides healthy meal delivery that can help you add more almonds to your diet in the most convenient way possible. Our meal plans include dishes such as Strawberry Almond Oatmeal and Almond-Crusted Sustainable Cod. We also offer a la carte almond snacks.