Almonds: Health Benefits, Facts, Research

Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds, approximately one ounce, contains one-eighth of our necessary daily protein.

Almonds may be eaten on their own, raw or toasted. They are also the ingredients of several different dishes. Almonds are available sliced, flaked, slivered, as a flour, oil, butter, or as almond milk.

The health benefits of almonds have been documented for centuries and modern research is backing up many of the claims – there any many goods reasons why you might want to consider including them in your diet.

Possible health benefits of almonds

Potential health benefits associated with consuming almonds include lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

1) Almonds and cholesterol

Almonds on a white background

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2005 suggested that consuming almonds increases vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells and also lowers cholesterol levels.

Ella Haddad, DrPH, RD, an author of the study, said:

“This study is important because it shows that eating almonds can significantly boost levels of vitamin E in the diet and bloodstream. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that defends your cells against damage on a daily basis and prevents artery-clogging oxidation of cholesterol. Eating a handful of almonds a day is a great way to get the vitamin E your body needs to stay healthy.”

2) Almonds and cancer risk

Researchers at the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, conducted a study to determine the effect of almonds on colon cancer.

According to the authors, the results suggested that “almond consumption may reduce colon cancer risk and does so via at least one almond lipid-associated component.”

Their research was published in Cancer Letters.

3) Almonds and heart disease

Almonds, along with nuts and seeds in general, are often associated with improved levels of blood lipids and being good for the heart.

There is evidence indicating that including almonds in your diet can help ward off heart disease.

One study, published in the journal Circulation in 2002, assessed almonds’ effect on coronary heart disease risk factors, and concluded that “almonds used as snacks in the diets of hyperlipidemic subjects significantly reduce coronary heart disease risk factors, probably in part because of the nonfat (protein and fiber) and monounsaturated fatty acid components of the nut.”

In another study published in 2014, scientists found that almonds significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. The researchers suggested their findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.

Nutritional profile of almonds

Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein.

Almonds also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids in addition to a lot of bioactive molecules (such as fiber, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants) which can help prevent cardiovascular heart diseases.

Nuts and seeds are the vegetable foods that are richest in fiber after cereals, which could explain why almonds are good for cardiovascular health.

Nutritional report: Almonds, raw 1 cup whole (143 grams):

Water – 6.31 grams Energy – 828 kcal
Protein – 30.24 grams Total lipid (fat) – 71.40 grams
Carbohydrate, by difference – 30.82 grams Fiber, total dietary – 17.9 grams
Sugars, total – 6.01 grams Cholesterol – 0 grams
Calcium, Ca – 385 mg Iron, Fe – 5.31 mg
Magnesium, Mg – 386 mg Phosphorus, P – 688 mg
Potassium, K – 1048 mg Sodium, Na – 1 mg
Zinc, Zn – 4.46 mg Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – 0 mg
Thiamin – 0.293 mg Riboflavin – 1.627 mg
Niacin – 5.174 mg Vitamin B-6 – 0.196 mg
Folate, DFE – 63 µg Vitamin B-12 – 0 µg
Vitamin A, RAE – 0 µg Vitamin A, IU – 3 IU
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – 36.65 mg Vitamin D – 0 IU
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) – 0 µg Caffeine – 0 mg

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Potential risks associated with almonds

There are potential risks associated with the consumption of almonds. Allergy to almonds is actually quite common.

If you are allergic to almonds it’s important to avoid any food products that may contain them.

Almonds are used to make the frangipane, marzipan, and praline. Almonds are also sometimes used in cakes, biscuits, bread, chocolates, ice cream, and certain liqueurs (such as Amandine).