Almonds are the seeds of the Prunus dulcis (almond tree). Although native to the Middle East, the world’s largest producer of almonds is the United States. Usually, the almonds you can find in stores have the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside. You may have eaten almonds, but do you ever wonder what the health benefits of almonds are? Read on to find out.
Health Benefits of Almonds
1. Rich in Nutrients
Almonds have an impressive nutrient profile. A one-ounce serving (28 grams) of almonds contains:
• Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
• Manganese: 32% of the RDI
• Fat: 14 grams
• Fiber: 3.5 grams
• Protein: 6 grams
RDI = Reference Daily Intake
They also contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin), copper, and phosphorus.
2. High in Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a family of fat soluble antioxidants. It tends to build up in the cell membranes in the body, protecting cells from oxidative damage. Almonds are among the best sources of vitamin E, with just one ounce providing 37% of the RDI.
Studies have linked a higher vitamin E intake with a lower incidence of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Help Lower Blood Pressure Levels
The magnesium in almonds may help lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a leading driver of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. A deficiency in magnesium is linked to high blood pressure.
Studies show that addressing magnesium deficiency can help reduce blood pressure. If you don’t meet the dietary recommendations for magnesium, try adding almonds to your diet.
4. Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
High levels of LDL cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol) in the blood is a known risk factor for heart disease. A person’s diet can have a major impact on LDL levels. Some studies show that almonds can effectively lower LDL.
One study found that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds per day lowered LDL cholesterol by 5.3 mg/dL. Participants also lost belly fat.
5. Good for Heart Health
Almonds may help improve lipid levels in the blood. This can be beneficial for heart health. A 2014 study found that almonds reduced blood pressure, improved blood flow, and increased the levels of antioxidants in the bloodstream. The participants were healthy males 20 to 70 years of age who took 50 grams of almonds per day for four weeks.
Researchers believe this may be due to the vitamin E, healthy fats, flavonoids, and fiber in almonds. To obtain these benefits, they recommend eating a handful of almonds each day.
6. Can Assist with Blood Sugar Control
Nuts are low in carbohydrates, but high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making them a good choice for people with diabetes. Another health benefit of almonds is that they are rich in magnesium.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 processes in the body, including blood sugar control. The RDI for magnesium is 310 to 420 mg. Two ounces of almonds provide 150 mg of this important mineral.
Did you know that 25 to 38% of people with type 2 diabetes are deficient in magnesium? Correcting this deficiency can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin function. It could also lead to a reduction in insulin resistance.
7. Loaded with Antioxidants
Almonds are a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress that can damage molecules in the cells and contribute to aging, inflammation, and diseases.
A clinical trial done on male smokers found that 3 ounces of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23 to 34% over a 4-week period. The findings support another study which found that eating almonds with meals reduced markers of oxidative damage.
8. May be Effective for Weight Loss
Almonds are low in carbs but high in fiber and protein. Both fiber and protein can make you feel full. Feeling full can help you lose weight, as you will be less tempted to eat snacks.
One study showed that a daily 1.5-ounce serving of almonds significantly reduced hunger and desire to eat. This makes almonds a weight loss-friendly food.
The health benefits of almonds are truly impressive. They contain many essential nutrients. Thankfully, you can incorporate them into your diet in so many ways. You can eat almonds raw or toasted, or add them to dishes. They are available sliced, flaked, slivered, and as oil, flour, butter, or almond milk.
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