7 proven health benefits of almonds
Getting enough healthy fat food sources into your daily diet is critical for optimal well-being. Gone are the days where nutritionists though that adopting a very low fat diet was the best option to ensure optimal health.
Now, we are learning that healthy fats are a necessary element of proper body functioning and are being encouraged to get as much as 30-40% of our total daily calorie intake from healthy fat sources depending on your goals and body type.
Healthy fats are going to supply a long term energy source, help with hormone regulation, assist with the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins, optimize brain health, and they are also key for providing taste and texture to the foods you are eating. All in all, you don’t want to miss out on what they have to offer.
Nuts are one of the best healthy fat sources that you can consume. They come nicely packaged with protein along with dietary fiber, making them a very well-balanced food to consider incorporating into your daily diet plan.
Almonds in particular are one healthy fat source not to miss out on. Wondering how these stack up? Let’s look at seven proven health benefits that almonds have to offer so that you can see why it’s a must they are included in your daily diet plan.
Almonds: the stats
Before we get into the details about the amazing health benefits of almonds, let’s first give you the full nutritional stats. This will help you discover how you can work these into your diet without a problem, ensuring that they help you maintain your ideal body weight.
Remember that almonds are quite calorie dense so you will want to watch how many of them you consume, but as long as your portion sizes are kept in check, you should have no problem making them a regular part of your nutrition plan.
- 164 calories
- 4 grams of dietary fat
- 1 grams of saturated fat
- 6 grams of carbs
- 3 grams of dietary fiber
- 4 grams of sugars
- 6 grams of protein
- 49% of your biotin needs
- 40% of your vitamin E needs
- 27% of your manganese intake
- 26% of your copper intake
- 18% of your vitamin B2 requirements
- 16% of your phosphorus intake
- 15% of your magnesium intake
- 15% of your molybdenum requirements
- 11% of your dietary fiber requirements
In addition to that, you’ll also get a small dose of bone-boosting calcium from almonds as well as some potassium as well. As you can see, these are a great nut for improving overall nutritional status.
When you work out the percentages of macronutrients in this nut, you’ll find that it contains about 15% total protein content, 14% carbohydrate content, and 71% total fat content. This makes it a great addition to a lower carb diet or even one that is moderate in carbs to ensure you do meet your fat intake for the day.
What’s more is that research suggests that not all the calories that you consume when you eat almonds are actually absorbed because some pass right through the body (3). This makes almonds an excellent choice for those who are seeking weight gain. Still do note that the calorie intake of these nuts are quite high, so you don’t want to eat them with abandon, but a small handful on a day to day basis is a great way to improve your weight loss results.
So now that you have the basic stats about almonds, let’s talk key benefits.
Loaded with antioxidants
When most people think antioxidants, they tend to immediately think about fresh fruits and vegetables. And while these are excellent sources of disease-fighting antioxidants (4) that can help combat conditions such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and delay the signs of aging, they aren’t the only foods that contain these powers.
Nuts do as well. Specifically almonds. Almonds are an excellent source of antioxidants that can help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, which is one of the key contributors to conditions such as cancer (5). When oxidation takes place in your cells, this is essentially free radical damage altering the make-up of the cells, which can lead to cell mutations and hence, tumor growth.
Do keep in mind though that in order to benefit from the antioxidants found in almonds, you’ll want to eat whole almonds with their skin. Blanched almonds (or those that have had the skin removed), will not possess nearly the same health benefits as much of those nutrients are in the outer shell. Basically, if they aren’t brown, don’t eat them. Research published in the Journal of Food Science has noted that when industrial processing takes place with almonds, namely, when they are blanched and either ground up, slivered, or made available for purchase in whole form, their antioxidant and nutrient content can be dramatically changed (6).
How many almonds must you eat to reap these benefits? Research suggests that consuming about 3 ounces of almonds per day will help to lower oxidative stress biomarkers by around 23-34% (7). This takes about four weeks to set in, so you aren’t looking at a very long time frame here. Do note though that if you eat smaller servings (1 or 2 ounces for instance), you may not see quite the reduction. For some people who don’t have higher calorie intakes, 3 oz. may be a bit high, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
Almonds and heart disease
Heart disease can be considered a silent killer at times as it tends to creep up on you without you even realizing it. You may notice your cholesterol levels slightly elevated and be told by your doctor that you do need to reduce them, but if care is not taken, a heart attack can set in rather quickly. Doing all you can to lower your risk of heart disease is therefore important.
Almonds, as it turns out, can help. They assist with reducing your risk in a few ways. First, they provide a good dose of fiber per serving. A higher fiber intake has been associated with a lower risk factor for heart disease (8), with research showing that a higher intake of nut consumption is especially correlated with reduced risk of both coronary heart disease as well as non-fatal myocardial infarction.
On top of that, nuts also have a very good fat profile, consisting of primarily unsaturated fatty acids. These particular types of fats have also been shown to have protective effects against cardiovascular heart disease, as was noted in a study published in the Arch Internal Medicine journal (9).
Swap out some of the saturated fat you’re consuming from animal-based products and turn to almonds instead and your heart health will really benefit.
Almonds and skin
Want to look as radiant as possible? Did you know that the foods you eat on a daily basis can have a strong influence on how glowing your complex is? Likewise, if you tend to have brittle hair and nails, food can also help out with that as well.
While you may already know that drinking enough water each day is important for skin and hair health, did you know that vitamin E rich foods will also give you a strong jump-start in the right direction? Almonds are one of the top picks for this nutrient. With a high dose of vitamin E per serving, this fat soluble vitamin can help you look and feel great.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant, so it’s primarily found in fat rich foods. Research published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition noted that vitamin E plays a critical role in a number of skin properties including the basal skin properties such as hydration, sebum production, as well as elasticity (10). Often you will see skin care products fortified in vitamin E and while applying it topically is one way to get it in, consuming it through your food intake is another.
Those who go on very low fat diets, which will naturally be lower in vitamin E tend to show dry, lackluster skin. You may have experienced this before if you’ve ever been on a very low calorie diet. When the healthy fats are added back into your diet on the other hand though, you notice your radiant complexion coming back almost instantly.
Almonds and diabetes
If you are suffering from diabetes and hoping to better manage it or you are someone who is looking to prevent diabetes, nuts are a great food to eat (11). Research published in the Current Diabetes Reports noted that those who regularly consume nuts may have a reduced risk of both diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease as we noted earlier. Their reasoning? Nuts appear to have a neutral effect on glucose as well as insulin and have a favorable effect on your overall lipid profile.
Even eating a few almonds with the carbohydrates you eat will slow the release of those carbohydrates in the blood stream, which then means you remain stabilized longer. Whenever you eat carbohydrates you will get a spike in blood sugar levels and often with that, insulin, so consuming the nuts can help offset this.
In addition to this, another way that nuts can benefit those who are trying to better manage their blood sugar and diabetes risk is by providing a good dose of magnesium to their menu. Magnesium is another mineral that is important for managing blood sugar levels (12), so this could also help to keep your symptoms or risk under control. On top of this, magnesium is also essential for managing blood pressure as well, so it may also have beneficial effects in preventing heart disease and stroke also (13).
Improved cholesterol profile
We already spoke about how almonds can help to lower your risk factor for heart disease. On top of that, they are also great for better managing your cholesterol levels as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73.5 million adults, which accounts for about 31.7% of the population currently have high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL). This is the ‘bad cholesterol’ that you want to avoid. On top of that, fewer than 1 out of every 3 adults with this issue have it under control and less than half of those are getting proper treatment for their condition (14).
Both heart disease and stroke are heavily related to high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure may also show connections as well. As such, doing all you can to control your cholesterol level will be important. Research has shown that nuts can do a remarkable job at this. In one study that took place, over the course of 16 weeks, those who consumed about 20% of their total daily calorie intake from almonds saw a reduction in bad cholesterol levels by about 12.4 mg/dL (15). This is obviously a very high in take of almonds, but even those who consume smaller intakes should benefit from having this nut.
Another study noted that those who included nuts as part of their diet on a regular basis not only had a greater chance of experiencing weight loss results, but in addition to that, also noted that they had improved insulin sensitivity as well (16). This is important news because insulin sensitivity is a big factor that can impact your overall risk for diabetes and even weight gain. Those who are insulin resistant do not process carbohydrates as well and are more likely to convert them into body fat stores.
Almonds and appetite
Earlier we noted the powerful benefit that almonds have of reducing total net calorie absorption. Basically, when you consume this nut, your body is not going to fully absorb all the calories that you eat from it, thus you net fewer and may see greater weight loss results. This isn’t the only way that almonds can assist with weight loss though.
Thanks to the high fiber content they contain and the fact they have virtually no sugar, they’ll help keep your appetite in check nicely. Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that when individuals consumed nuts, they showed a lower desire to eat after the meal containing the nuts and experienced greater overall satiety (17). Additionally, another study also noted that those who were permitted nuts in their weight loss diet showed superior weight loss results over those who were restricted from consuming nuts (18).
The main thing to remember when using nuts to help improve fat loss is that you need to control your serving sizes. As it’s very easy to over-eat nuts, you’ll want to limit yourself to just that single ounce serving to keep your overall calorie intake in check. Always remember that you can still gain weight from eating healthy foods – nuts included.
Almonds and energy level
Finally, almonds may have a positive impact on your energy levels as well. This is thanks to the fact that contain three key nutrients: manganese, copper, as well as riboflavin, all of which go into producing energy in the body. When you fall short in these nutrients, your body may struggle to utilize oxygen as well as it should, thus your cells go without and become fatigued more quickly. Couple this with the fact that almonds provide that source of sustainable energy from slow-burning dietary fats and you have a can’t-miss solution for feeling great throughout the day.
If you like, make yourself a batch of home-made trail mix using almonds, a little dark chocolate to provide additional antioxidant support, some whole grain cereal squares, and a tablespoon or two of dried blueberries or cranberries. This is a great option on those days where you are on the go non-stop and don’t have time for a sit-down meal.
The Sati line
So as you can see, there are many great benefits that almonds have to offer. They are a very mild tasting nuts as well, so one that you should have no problem including in your diet on a regular basis. Most people will enjoy the taste of almonds and given the fact they are quite mild, this makes it easy to include them in a number of different recipes you may be preparing.
Try serving slivered whole almonds on top of your salad, adding them to a bowl of oatmeal, mixing them into any muffins or cookies you may be preparing or using some natural almond butter next time you’re having a banana or apple to make it a balanced snack.
Almonds are also very easy to transport with you wherever you happen to be going throughout your day, so keep a small container on hand with you at all times. This way, you’ll never be without a healthy snack to provide the nutrition your body needs.