Almonds (Prunus amygdalus) are light orangish-brown colored nuts. They have been on the culinary scene since about 3000 B.C.
The abundance of essential minerals, vitamins, polyphenols, and fiber makes almonds a healthy addition to your diet. Research says that almonds can help in the treatment of skin- and hair-related problems due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Almonds are rich in nutrients like mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and dietary fibers. They are also reserves of minerals and vitamins. These include calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, thiamine, vitamin B, vitamin E, and several phytonutrients(1).
They may, therefore, help in managing acute and chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and hyperlipidemia (1).
To find out how almonds offer these benefits and what gives them such high therapeutic importance, keep reading!
Table Of Contents
How Do Almonds Benefit Your Health?
Almonds are treasure chests of nutrients like vitamin E, zinc, potassium, and fatty acids. They can boost your memory, maintain good vision, improve digestion, and keep you full for a long time.
1. Almonds: Powerhouses Of Nutrients
Almonds can be a great snack. They are nutrient-rich, low carb, and high-energy seeds that do not compromise on pleasing your palate.
They are popular for their health benefits due to their nutrient composition. Almonds are rich in nutrients like mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and dietary fibers.
They are also reserves of minerals and vitamins. These include calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, thiamine, vitamin B, vitamin E, and several phytonutrients (1).
Almonds boast an impressive nutritive profile. 1 oz (28 g) of almonds contains 14 g of fat, 6 g of protein, and 164 calories (2).
The way almonds are consumed determines their measured metabolizable energy (ME).
Metabolizable energy is the net energy remaining after fecal and urine loss. In other words, ME represents the energy available for vital processes like growth, reproduction, work (locomotion), and respiration (1).
The measured ME of whole natural almonds, whole roasted almonds, and chopped almonds were found to be significantly less than the measured ME of almond butter (1).
The ME of whole natural almonds was lesser than that of whole roasted almonds (1).
2. May Soothe, Tone, And Rejuvenate Your Skin
Almonds are rich in oils and vitamin E. These unsaturated fats and polyphenols work as excellent skin conditioners. This is why ancient schools of medicine used almond oil to treat dry skin issues.
Almond oil can be used to treat dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. It may also help improve your skin tone and complexion. Further studies are needed to determine its efficacy in treating post-operative scarring (3).
These seeds are natural sources of ⍺-tocopherol, which, along with 7 other members, is known as vitamin E. Tocopherols are photoprotectants. They prevent skin damage caused due to exposure to sunlight and UV rays (4), (5).
Almonds are especially known for their antioxidants. Almond polyphenols – especially flavonoids – are amazing free radical scavengers. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin.
3. May Stimulate Hair Growth
Hair loss is a growing problem among contemporary women and men. Blame the modern diet, lifestyle, pollution, hormonal imbalance, malnutrition, and even overnutrition for it. A variety of therapies can help you cope with this problem. Oil massage is a classic option.
Almond oil massage is one of the safest remedies for hair growth. It takes time to get absorbed into your scalp, but the vitamin E in it may condition your hair. Studies show that vitamin E supplementation may also increase hair numbers in people experiencing hair loss (7).
More importantly, deficiency of micronutrients can manifest as hair fall. Biotin deficiency is rare but results in thinning hair. It may cause hair fall, rashes, brittle nails, and exoskeleton issues.
Roasted almonds are said to be good sources of biotin (¼ cup has about 1.5 mcg of biotin).
Hence, adding almonds to your diet and massaging its oil onto your hair and scalp may stimulate healthy hair growth (8).
4. May Boost Memory, Brain Health, And Cognition
Tree nuts like almonds are natural sources of tocopherol, folate, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols. These nutrients may prevent or delay the onset of age-related cognitive disorders and amnesia (9).
Rat studies have shown that almonds, when given for 28 days, significantly improved memory retention.
Almond phytochemicals also control cholesterol levels. This ensures no oxidized plaques block the neurons. The acetylcholine in almonds was proposed to be the active compound here (9).
This shows the nootropic properties of almonds.
Diets that contain almonds are said to be extremely healthy. For instance, the Mediterranean diet that includes olives, almonds, and other nuts, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, asparagus, and chickpeas can promote overall brain health. This is all thanks to the unsaturated fats they offer (10).
5. May Aid Weight Loss
Almonds induce a sense of satiety when you snack on them. They are nutrient-dense. This prevents hedonic hunger snacking and overeating, ultimately preventing weight gain.
The unsaturated fats in almonds lower cholesterol. Almonds are also great sources of dietary fiber (1 oz. contains 3.5 g of fiber, 2.4g of insoluble fiber). High-fiber foods take time to digest, thus making you feel full for longer (11).
However, this mechanism of almonds needs to be studied. Not many researchers believe almonds can aid weight loss. It depends on your entire diet plan and not just one ingredient, right?
You may still go ahead and add 1440 kJ equivalent serving of almonds with a limited risk of weight gain (12).
6. Can Boost Good Cholesterol (HDL) Levels
Consuming tree nuts like almonds have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL).
Almonds are good sources of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that regulate the LDL levels in individuals with diabetes and high cholesterol as well as their healthy counterparts (13).
Having a higher HDL than LDL level in circulation benefits several organ systems – primarily, your heart (15).
7. May Offer And Aid Cardiovascular Protection
Tree nuts, like almonds, contain high fiber, unsaturated fat, and phytochemicals. This profile is known to bring down the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) (1).
This has been proven recently by studying the Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 g/day tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts) was shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular events by 28 % (16).
Almonds contain nutrients such as folic acid, L-arginine, vitamin E, and vitamin B. These nutrients can modulate the vascular function (vasodilatory property) of the circulatory system.
These seeds can also tone down inflammation and oxidative stress in your body.
8. May Improve Glycemic Control And Diabetes
Eating about 60 g/day of almonds increases the intake of dietary fiber, magnesium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and vitamin E (17).
Most of these phytonutrients have antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of oxidative damage to proteins (19).
Almonds control your blood sugar levels, boost HDL levels, trap the circulating LDL molecules, combat oxidative stress, and induce satiety. These properties also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
9. May Induce Satiety, Boost Energy And Improve Gastric Environment
Almonds have a tough texture. They can be hard to break down. In fact, a significant proportion of raw almond tissue is preserved intact even after chewing, digestion, and large bowel fermentation. But, chewing (masticating) them constantly releases more lipids and more energy (20), (21).
Another bonus of eating almonds is that it gives you a sense of fullness (satiety) because of their slow disintegration rate.
Roasting almonds increases their disintegration rate. They also get digested quicker than raw ones (20).
Snacking on a few almonds post-lunch can deal with the post-lunch dip in alertness, memory, and focus (22). They pump your energy levels.
One ounce of almonds gives about 164 kcal (kilocalories), pistachios give 159 kcal, and peanuts give 161 kcal of energy (2). Choose your mid-day nibbles wisely!
10. May Promote And Maintain Eye Health
If you want perfect vision, you need to consume nutrients like vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids. These micronutrients work on the oxidative stress and inflammation affecting your eyes (24).
The macula of the retina is said to have high concentrations of free radicals which may damage the proteins and DNA in those cells. Antioxidants protect the macula from degeneration.
Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin improve the pigment density of this region.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fight ocular inflammation.
Almonds contain fair amounts of vitamin E (7 mg TE per ¼ cup) and zinc (0.9 mg/oz.). While vitamin E prevents platelet aggregation and improves vasodilation, zinc plays a vital role in cell signaling and nerve-impulse transmission.
Eating small amounts of almonds may not prevent eye problems, but they may control their severity (25).
11. May Strengthen Bones And Prevent Bone Diseases
Consuming 1200 mg of calcium every day is mandatory for all women and men above 51 years. This is recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) to avoid osteoporosis and other bone diseases (26).
Dairy products contain calcium. However, foods like spinach, tofu, almonds, kale, broccoli, fortified orange juice, and canned fish like sardines and salmon also contain good amounts of calcium.
Experiments on human bone cell lines (osteoclasts) have revealed that almond meal can inhibit osteoclast formation. It also interferes with the gene expression and functioning of osteoclasts (28).
Thus, almonds, like other calcium-rich foods, have a positive effect on your bone health. You may need additional vitamin D supplementation and physical activity, depending on your body’s calcium index (29).
What is responsible for making almonds beneficial for your health?
It is, undoubtedly, their nutrient composition.
Go through the nutritional profile of almonds in the next section to know why.
Nutrition Profile Of Almonds
|Nutritional value per 1 cup, whole (143 g)|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||71.40|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||30.82|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||17.9|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||3|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||µg||1|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||36.65|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||5.437|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||45.118|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||17.630|
|Fatty acids, total trans||g||0.021|
|Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic||g||0.017|
|Proanthocyanidin polymers (>10mers)||mg||114.8|
Almonds have a strong phytochemical composition. They contain tannins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and stilbenes in varying proportions in the seed and skin.
Almond proanthocyanidins include epicatechin, epiafzelechin, and catechin. Tannins like gallotannins, ellagitannins, and phlorotannins that release gallic acid, ellagic acid, and phloroglucinol upon hydrolysis have also been identified in them (30).
When it comes to flavonoids and flavanols, almonds contain cyanidin, catechin, dihydrokaempferol, dihydroquercetin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epicatechin glycoside, gallocatechin gallate, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, quercetin, and their 3-O-glucosides, galactosides, rutinoside, eriodictyol, naringenin, and their glucosides are present in fair amounts (30).
Hydroxycinnamic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and sinapic acid have also been identified in almonds, but not all are quantified (30).
Under lignans, almonds contain secoisolariciresinol, lariciresinol, cyclo-lariciresinol, pinoresinol, sesamin, syringaresinol, 7-hydroxymatairesinol, and matairesinol-7-hydroxy secoisolariciresinol. Biochanin A is the most abundant almond isoflavone. It is followed by genistein, daidzein, glycitein, and formononetin (30).
That’s a ton of nutrition! If all these nutrients and phytonutrients get to work on your body, you’ll definitely be in the pink of health!
To find out how and how much of almonds you should have, scroll down.
What Are The Ways To Add Almonds To Your Diet?
Several studies suggest that consuming about 10–100 g of almonds a day can improve glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism in your body. Making them a regular addition to your diet can ward off most CVDs (31).
Each almond seed should weigh about 1-1.5 g, and 1 oz. should roughly have 20-23 almonds. You can have 8-10 almonds in a day.
To get started, use almonds as a baking garnish or salad add-on. If they suit you, try them as a snack. You can enjoy them in both salted and unsalted forms. Roasting almonds before serving them brings out their crunchy taste.
You can also have them in your breakfast/meal smoothie. Blend almond milk, fruits, and frozen yogurt to make a delicious smoothie.
Use almond paste in the preparation of soups or vinaigrettes.
Sprinkle slivered, blanched almonds over desserts. Diced almonds work best for stuffing and coatings.
If you haven’t tried almond butter, give it a shot as well. It tastes like heaven!
You can substitute regular cow/buffalo milk with almond milk. Using almond flour instead of regular refined flour can also be a healthy option.
Wondering what can happen if you eat too many almonds in a day?
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Almonds?
Almonds contain essential fats, fiber, vitamin E, and phytonutrients. When taken within limits, they are great for your health. But, having too many almonds can be toxic. Here’s what could happen:
- Cyanide Poisoning
Bitter almonds store fair amounts of cyanide in their seeds. Each almond seed might release 0.9 to 4.9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per gram. The lethal dose for cyanide is about 50 to 300 mg for an adult. If your almond intake has crossed this dose of cyanide, it may poison you. Consult a doctor immediately (32).
You may feel too full, uncomfortable, and bloated if you eat too many almonds due to their high fiber content (33).
- Vitamin E Overdose
You may experience nausea, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, weakness, fatigue, headache, and/or blurred vision if you consume an excessive amount of vitamin E in the form of almonds.
The RDA for vitamin E in adults is 15 mg/day. One ounce (28 grams) of whole almonds contains 7 mg of vitamin E. So, plan your intake accordingly (34).
- Drug Interactions
Anticoagulants, chemotherapy drugs, statins, etc., might interact with vitamin E in almonds. This might happen rarely, but the possibility exists (34).
The Take-Home Message…
Like other nuts, almonds are energy-dense and contain good fats, fiber, vitamin E, minerals, and polyphenols. A cup of these will give you an energy boost of 3465 kJ or 828 kcal!
Almonds can promote weight loss and reduce hunger. Moreover, almonds are great for your skin, hair, heart, brain, and eyes.
Share your first almond encounter with us. You can also leave your feedback, suggestions, recipes, and queries in the comments section below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How many almonds should you eat a day?
Eating roughly 12-15 almonds a day is good for your health.
Is it better to eat almonds with skin or without?
You can eat almonds raw along with their skin. Almond skin flavonoids have been shown to possess antioxidant activity in experimental models. However, some people prefer soaked and skinned almonds over raw ones (1).
What is the best time to eat almonds?
Breakfast is a good time to eat almonds (35).
Can we eat almonds on an empty stomach?
Yes, you can eat almonds on an empty stomach to increase and speed up the absorption of nutrients.
Can we drink water after eating almonds?
Do not drink water after consuming nuts with high oil content, like almonds. It may lead to fat deposition in the food pipe, resulting in irritation and coughing.
Can I eat almonds at night?
Yes, almonds contain the sleep-supporting amino acid tryptophan and proteins that will keep you full all night.
What happens if we eat almonds without soaking?
Your body cannot absorb all the nutrients from almonds if you eat them without removing the skin. Soak them in water overnight for better release of nutrients.
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