From reducing the wrinkles in the skin to its provisions for a healthy heart, almonds are popular around the world.
Almonds are the powerhouse of nutrients. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and fibers, almonds are recognized as a superfood with a variety of nutritional benefits.
Almonds belong to the same family as cherries and peaches.
15 Proven Health Benefits of Almonds
1. Almonds are Rich in Antioxidants
Almonds are a great source of antioxidants. These are substances that protect the cells of the body from the harmful effects of free radicals ( 1).
Free radicals cause oxidative stress which in turn may lead to the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and diabetes. The antioxidants present in almonds help in reducing the risk of such diseases.
A study that was first published in the 90s by the National Academy of Science, USA brought out the benefits of antioxidants against degenerative diseases ( 2). About 31 phenolic compounds have been found in 3 different types of almonds ( 3).
To enjoy the maximum benefit of almond’s antioxidant properties, make sure to consume them with their skin. An article published in the ‘Journal of Science’ by the authors at CSIC, Madrid, Spain, brought to focus the rich composition of almond skin ( 4). It has flavonols, hydroxybenzoic acids, and aldehydes.
Smoking causes oxidative stress leading to lung damage. Consuming almonds have proven to be beneficial in reducing this injury. A clinical trial involving 60 male-smokers who consumed 84 grams of almonds over 4 weeks, reduced the damage caused, by 23% to 34% ( 5).
Summary: Almonds have high amounts of antioxidants that may prevent the onset of degenerative diseases. Almond skin has a high antioxidant content, so do not peel them off before consuming them.
2. Almonds are High in Vitamin E
It has been found to help reduce cognitive decline among the aging population. A study that observed 2889 subjects in the age group of 65 to 102, noted reduced cognitive decline with the supplementation of vitamin E foods ( 8).
Increased consumption of vitamin E has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer ( 9).
A serving of almonds, which is about 23 almonds (an ounce or a handful) offers 37% of the daily recommended dietary intake of vitamin E ( 10).
Summary: A handful of almonds provide nearly half of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E. This micronutrient has been linked to reduced cognitive decline among the aged.
3. Almonds Help Lower Blood Sugar
Almonds are ideal for diabetics since it is low in carbs but high in healthy fats and proteins. Almonds have high fiber content which is needed for good digestion.
Magnesium found in almonds is beneficial for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Around 25 to 38% of people with diabetes are found to be deficient in magnesium. Ingestion of this superfood may help combat the problem.
A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association demonstrated that high doses of magnesium can prevent chronic complications and improve control in type 2 diabetic subjects ( 11). Supplementation of magnesium increases insulin sensitivity even in non-diabetic subjects reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes ( 12).
The daily recommended intake of magnesium is about 310mg to 420 mg. Two handfuls (2ounces) of almonds provide 150 mg of magnesium which is nearly half of its RDI ( 13).
Almonds have shown to reduce the spike in blood glucose and insulin level after meals. A 2011 study showed that 2 ounces of almonds lowered the levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose ( 14).
Summary: Almonds are low in carbs and high in fiber and minerals such as magnesium. Research has shown that magnesium helps to increase insulin sensitivity.
4. Almonds add Benefits to Blood Pressure Levels
Increased blood pressure is among the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. A low level of magnesium in the body is associated with high blood pressure even if you are not overweight ( 15).
The high amount of antioxidants and magnesium present in almonds have shown to be effective in decreasing blood pressure.
This helps reduce blood pressure by preventing the blood vessels from constricting. A phenomenon that improves free blood flow ( 16). Researchers have stated through their studies that taking 368 mg of magnesium in the form of foods or supplements can reduce both the systolic and diastolic pressure by quite a margin ( 17).
Even though the habitual magnesium supplementation will positively affect the magnesium level in the body, consuming magnesium-rich food will also ensure the same effect.
Summary: Antioxidants in almonds have shown to reduce blood pressure. Increasing the level of magnesium through the oral dietary intake of almonds may contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure.
5. Almonds Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Almonds have been found to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood while supporting the maintenance of ‘good’ cholesterol. This is important for lowering the risk of heart diseases.
A 2015 investigation was conducted by ‘The Pennsylvania State University’, USA, to examine the effects of almond consumption on bad cholesterol ( 18). The study was for a period of 12 weeks with 48 subjects who had high levels of bad cholesterol otherwise known as low-density lipoprotein.
They consumed 42 grams (1.5 ounces) of almonds daily. It was observed that almonds reduced LDL(bad) cholesterol and maintained HDL (good) cholesterol.
A diet containing 20% of the calories obtained from almonds is effective in significantly lowering bad cholesterol by about 12.4 mg/dL ( 19).
Summary: A simple daily intake of one or two handfuls of low carbs almonds will help stop the increase of bad cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol levels in the blood. It reduces the possibility of heart diseases in healthy individuals.
6. Almonds Decrease the Oxidation of LDL Cholesterol
Almonds not only reduce bad cholesterol in the blood but also lowers its oxidation which in turn slows down the development of heart disease.
A trial was undertaken by St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada, to evaluate dose-response of almonds on the risk factors of coronary heart disease ( 20).
The 27 men and women who were hyperlipidemic (had high levels of cholesterol), were chosen for the study.
Three kinds of supplements were provided to them for snacking. One consisted of almonds only, the other one had almonds and muffins and the last snacked only on muffins.
After one-month, the almond snacking group showed a significant reduction in the level of bad cholesterol as well as the levels of oxidized cholesterol.
It was nearly 14 percent. This study clearly concluded that snacking on almonds significantly reduced the risk factors associated with coronary heart diseases.
Summary: Almonds consumed as snacks are beneficial in reducing the oxidation of bad cholesterol, thereby, lowering the risk of coronary heart disease over time.
7. Almonds Reduce Hunger
It has been seen that a high protein diet promotes satiety, reducing hunger compared to low protein intake ( 21).
Since almonds have a high content of protein and fiber, snacking on it enhances the feeling of being full. You will be less motivated to consume more calories frequently after snacking on almonds, on the same day.
A 2015 study undertaken by Nutrition Research in Surrey, UK, demonstrated that a mid-morning snack of 42 grams of almonds reduced calorie intake at lunch and dinner ( 22).
An earlier study that was published in the European Journal of Nutrition observed that 137 subjects who consumed 43 grams of almonds a day over a 4-week period, reduced daily energy intake without any specific guidance ( 23).
Summary: Snacking on almonds helps reduce the number of calories you tend to consume in your subsequent meals. The high fiber and protein content in almonds keeps you feeling full for longer. It increases satiety.
8. Almonds May Help in Losing Weight
The satiating effect of almonds plays a major role in a weight loss diet. Almonds have also been researched to contribute to metabolism ( 24). The essential fatty acids that are present in almonds speed up the body’s metabolism, resulting in more burning of calories.
These two factors together have shown to help maintain that healthy weight that we all crave. A 62% weight loss was observed in a study wherein 65 obese adults underwent a 24-week trial. They consumed 84 grams (3 ounces) of low-calorie almonds a day ( 25). The loss of weight was higher compared to a diet containing complex carbohydrates.
A 2014 test was conducted by the University of Medical Sciences, Iran. A total number of 108 women who were overweight participated in this 3-month trial where they were given an almond enriched diet ( 26). They consumed 50 grams of almonds each day.
Noteworthy reduction in weight, body mass index, waist to hip circumference ratio, waist ratio was recorded.
Summary: The consumption of almonds has an inverse association with body mass index. Though rich in calories, almonds do not cause weight gain but are effective in weight loss.
9. Almonds May Reduce The Risk of Cancer
Almonds and other nuts (walnuts and peanuts) may help decrease the occurrence of cancer.
An analysis of nuts like peanut, walnut, and almond consumption was carried out to understand their protective effect with the development of breast cancer ( 27). The study was done in 2015 with 97 women who had breast cancer and 104 other women who did not have the disease. They were analyzed about life long seed consumption.
It was concluded that high consumption of nuts amongst the women like almonds, walnuts, and peanuts was indeed a protective factor against breast cancer. Its consumption reduced the risk by 2–3 times.
In another article that was posted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA, they made the observation that increased consumption of tree nuts like almonds reduced the risk of several diseases like type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease ( 28).
Summary: A high daily consumption of almonds and other nuts like walnuts and peanuts may increase protection against breast cancer and colon cancer. More research is needed to establish these findings.
10. Almonds and Healthy Skin
Almonds are well-known for its many skin benefits. It softens and smoothens the skin. The high vitamin E helps reduce aging and completely nourishes your skin. Its antioxidant property blocks the free radicals that play a major role in the aging process.
Hence, the rich nutrient content in almonds helps reduce wrinkles. A study was undertaken in 2019 by the University of California, USA, to demonstrate the beneficial effect of almond on wrinkles ( 29).
28 women, who were postmenopausal, consumed 20% of their calorie consumption from almond or another calorie matching snack, for 16 weeks.
A photographic analysis showed that the severity and width of wrinkles had substantially reduced in the almond group compared to the diet group.
Summary: Daily intake of almonds may help reduce wrinkle severity and wrinkle width. It has the potential to deliver anti-aging benefits.
11. Almond Boosts Bone Health
Bone density is a very crucial factor for a person’s overall health. If the bone starts losing its density, they become extremely fragile and prone to fracture. Bone absorbs nutrients throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood till it reaches its peak in the late 20s when you have your peak bone mass.
After that, with age, you start losing density. For women, menopause, in particular, weakens the bone and makes them more prone to osteoporosis.
However, there are many ways to help boost and maintain bone density and one such way is the intake of foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Almond is one such food that is packed with micronutrients like calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K. These are important for the development of bones and their maintenance.
In a 2018 study conducted by the University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China found that low copper level in the body is associated with low bone density ( 32).
A study conducted on women in Israel with osteoporosis showed that 250 mg/day of magnesium intake significantly increased bone mineral density ( 33).
Summary: Theminerals and vitamins that are present in almonds help in maintaining bone density in the body. It supports bone development and contributes to preventing osteoporosis.
12. Almonds Can Help Gut Health
Significant amounts of good bacteria reside in our gut and form a major part of the body’s defense against the pathogens (harmful bacteria). Nevertheless, there are several factors that lead to imbalance. This may lead to the overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast.
There are foods that are non-digestible and they stay on the digestive tract fuelling these good bacteria. These are known as prebiotic foods and almonds are one of them.
Another 2016 trial which involved 29 parents and their children, consuming 1.5 and 0.5 ounces of almonds for 3 weeks, found that it changes the bacterial composition for the better ( 36).
Studies have shown that this particular effect of almond is because of the lipid that it contains and has been proven to be conducive for good bacterial growth.
Summary: Almonds increase the defense of the body against damaging bacteria. It has the potential to work as a prebiotic when it is present for a longer time in the digestive system.
13. Almonds Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
Pertaining to good fats, low carbohydrate, high fiber, and high antioxidants, almonds can keep your heart healthy.
Almond contains fatty acids like omega-3, omega-6, oleic acid, and linoleic acid amongst other fatty acids. Consuming a fair share of these contribute to an array of natural health benefits for your body.
It reduces bad cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity, and helps decrease belly fat. All of these factors ensure good heart health.
The rich content of antioxidants present in almonds also is a contributing factor in reducing high blood pressure ( 37). This lowers the risks of heart diseases.
A study that was taken up by Aston University, Birmingham, UK observed that taking 50 grams of almonds every day for a month increased the level of antioxidants in the bloodstream benefitting the heart ( 38).
It was noted that the combination of nutrients such as healthy fats, vitamin E, fiber, and flavonoids that have antioxidant properties together bring about the overall health benefits.
A systematic review was undertaken by Tufts University, Boston on the beneficial effects of almonds on cardiovascular diseases. The findings were published in the international review journal ‘Advances in Nutrition’ (2019) ( 39).
The finding strongly indicated that almonds reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by improving blood lipids and decreasing body weight.
Summary: The high amount of macro and micro-nutrients available in almonds makes it an ideal food needed to keep the vital paraments of the heart in balance. This helps in keeping your heart healthy.
14. Almonds Maintain a Healthy Brain Function
The consumption of almonds and other nuts help in strengthening brain functions. It promotes cognition, learning, memory, and healing ( 40).
Tree nuts like almonds have essential nutrients like flavonoids, phytochemicals, vitamin E, vitamin B, protein, and healthy fatty acids that can fight against age-related brain conditions ( 41).
Almond helps in the production of neurotransmitters called acetylcholine, which aid in the transmission of messages. A low level of this neurotransmitter can create a brain fog wherein thinking becomes unclear. This may lead to headaches and cognitive decline eventually becoming a disease.
A 2016 study on the administration of almonds on animal models observed that it enhanced memory significantly after 28-day ingestion ( 42).
Summary: Almonds increase the production of acetylcholine, needed for brain communication. It also improves the retention of memory. It can assist against cognitive decline in age-related conditions.
15. Benefits of Almond for Hair
Almonds are a very rich source of magnesium and other nutrients like biotin that promote hair growth ( 43, 44). As they are packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, these nutrients promote healthily and require blood flow that boosts hair growth. A regular hair massage with almond oil ensures strong, shiny, and soft hair.
Antioxidants in almond oil help fight against environmental stress around your hair maintaining its health. The fatty acids help in reducing scalp inflammation by moisturizing and softening the skin tissue. It helps improve blood circulation.
Warm almond oil helps in removing dandruff as it cleans the scalp by reducing dandruff.
Summary: The oil of almonds is useful for hair growth as its ingredients like vitamin E and fatty acids keeps away dandruff and scalp inflammation. The oil protects the hair against negative environmental factors like stress.
Side Effects of Overeating Almonds
Even though almonds are packed with nutrients and are extremely healthy snacks to munch on; overeating this nut may cause certain harmful impacts.
- The high fiber in almonds when eaten in excess amounts may cause digestive problems. They include an upset stomach and bloating.
- Packed with a considerable amount of Vitamin E, and almond overdose may result in excess of this vitamin in your system resulting in diarrhea, weakness, and blurred vision.
- Being high in the mineral manganese, consuming high amounts may interfere with a few medications like laxatives, antibiotics, and blood pressure medication.
- Excess almonds can lead to toxicity. It is pertaining to the hydrocyanic acid that is present in it. Over-consumption may lead to breathing problems, choking, nervous breakdown, and in extreme cases even death.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
1. What is The Ideal Consumption of Almonds?
Though almonds serve many health benefits; only a certain amount should be consumed. It mainly depends on whether you are seeking to lose weight or gain weight (45).
If you desire to gain weight then eating 40 almonds a day starting with breakfast will help you. If you are following a weight loss program you need to consume only 5 almonds with a glass of milk for breakfast.
2. What Is The Right Time to Eat Almonds?
To maximize the benefits of eating almonds, the best time to consume them is in the morning (46).
Almonds are low in carbs but high in protein and fiber; the two nutrients that promote the feeling of fullness. It reduces your calorie intake during the day, so the best time to consume almonds is in the morning on a regular basis.
3. What Happens if we Eat Soaked Almonds Daily?
Soaked almonds help with digestion. It releases an enzyme called lipase that supports fat digestion. Soaking aids easy access to its nutrient content (47).
Soaked almonds have a high content of insoluble fiber that increases and aids in regular good bowel movements. Eating soaked almonds in the morning can prevent constipation.
4. Why Are Raw Almonds Bad For You?
Almonds are of two varieties, namely, sweet and bitter. The second type can be poisonous too. These almonds are processed to make it safe for consumption. The heating process removes all the poisonous content.
Eating raw almonds during summer may create a few digestive problems as it produces heat in the body. It is best to soak them overnight and eat them the next morning.
The Final Note
There is no doubt that almond is a densely packed nutritious food that can be consumed anytime during the day. The health benefits are varied and this tree nut can be consumed by the old and young alike.
Almonds contribute substantially to preventing the onset of chronic diseases, keeping your heart healthy, and nourishing your hair and skin.
The side effects are restricted to high consumption or allergic reactions, which are easily avoidable. Packed with antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins, this nut can be considered as a superfood for all times.
Originally published at https://bestfornutrition.com on May 7, 2020.