Are almonds good for you? Almonds are one of the world’s most loved tree nuts. They can be eaten raw or roasted as a snack or in different dishes. And though almonds are just one of the many healthy nuts out there, they’re by far the most popular nut used in everyday cooking and baking.
That’s because almonds have a number of health benefits that make them great to incorporate into your diet, whether you’re trying to lose weight or just want to be healthier overall. So if you haven’t already tried adding almonds to your meals, this article tells you more about why almonds are good for you and how you can easily include them in your diet.
Why Are Almonds Good For You?
1. Almonds May Promote Bone Health
Almonds are a good source of calcium, an essential component in building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. Likewise, calcium helps strengthen teeth and regulate nerve communication and muscle contraction. An ounce of almonds contains 73.9 milligrams of calcium, which is 7 percent of the daily recommended amount for adults. Read More.
Almonds also provide a good amount of magnesium, a mineral that has been found to improve bone density and strength. Magnesium has also been linked to increased muscle mass and energy production.
In addition, almonds are a good source of manganese, copper, zinc, and vitamin K, which are all essential for healthy and strong bones. Vitamin K promotes new bone cell production and calcium regulation.
When eaten in moderation (1 ounce or a handful per day), almonds provide bone-building nutrients for people who are at risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
2. Almonds Improve Memory
If you’re easily forgetful, almonds could be great for you.
In 2008, researchers at Columbia University published a study in which subjects who were given almonds exhibited improvements in memory function. This is due to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which promote serotonin production.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in cognitive processes and emotional behavior. People with low levels of serotonin are more prone to depression and anxiety, whereas people with higher levels of serotonin tend to experience increased feelings of happiness and well-being.
Almonds can also promote the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that enhances memory and prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine also promotes healthy muscle and nerve function. So adding almonds to your diet can contribute to muscular performance and help with nerve transmission in brain cells. Consuming 8-10 almonds a day will increase acetylcholine (Ach) levels in the brain. Read More.
3. Almonds May Help Lower Cholesterol
While your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, too much of it may cause fatty deposits around the arteries, making it difficult for the blood to flow through.
This may lead to an increased risk for heart disease. The deposits can also dislodge, causing a clot that may lead to stroke and heart attack.
Although high cholesterol can be hereditary, it’s your lifestyle that defines your fate. Having a healthy lifestyle may suppress your high cholesterol genes and thus lower your risk of complications.
Consuming almonds as part of a healthy diet has been shown to lower cholesterol, especially bad cholesterol.
This is because almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, but high in unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and protein. This has been shown to lower cholesterol in healthy individuals and those with high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
Also, almonds contain phytosterols, fatty compounds that lower cholesterol absorption in the intestines.
In a 2015 study, daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of almonds lowered “bad” cholesterol by 5.3 mg/dl while maintaining the “good” cholesterol.
4. Almonds Improve Gut Health
A healthy gut is a contributing factor to a strong immune system, improved brain function, healthy heart, quality sleep, improved mood, and proper digestion.
It’s no secret that fiber keeps our guts healthy and happy. One serving of almonds (about 23 nuts) provides 6 grams of dietary fiber or around 20 percent of your daily needs. Fiber helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome—the bacteria in our intestines—which can aid in digestion, weight management, immune health, and other benefits.
Almonds are rich in fiber which acts as prebiotics. Prebiotics are the non-digestible fiber that fuels the growth and activity of probiotics. Read More. Since prebiotics can’t be digested, they’re often described as food for probiotics or good bacteria. Prebiotic foods have also been shown to positively affect digestive health by increasing stool frequency, improving consistency, and decreasing constipation.
It is worth noting that almonds are rich in both insoluble fiber (which promotes regularity) and soluble fiber (which may improve cholesterol levels). The level of insoluble fiber found in almonds is actually pretty high compared to other nuts—one ounce contains about 3 grams of it. This high level of insoluble fiber helps explain why almonds may promote regularity better than other nuts do.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke. Besides lowering cholesterol, which keeps your blood vessels healthy, the high antioxidant levels in almonds may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
According to research published in Nutrition Research, a handful of almonds might help lower your blood pressure. A study showed that participants who consumed almonds every day had a significantly lower risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) than those who never ate them.
In addition, eating almonds may keep your arteries clear. A Harvard University study found that older women who consumed two ounces of whole almonds daily for six weeks experienced a significant increase in endothelial function, which is necessary for proper blood flow throughout our bodies.
Researchers attribute almonds’ ability to improve blood flow and decrease arterial stiffness to their high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and magnesium.
6. Help Reduce Calorie Intake And Maintain A Healthy Weight
When you consume extra calories that the body doesn’t need, they will be converted and be stored as fat causing weight gain. This happens especially when your diet is high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber and dietary fats.
Almonds are full of fiber and healthy fats but very low in calories. Both fiber and fats contribute to early satiety and feelings of fullness. This may cause you to eat fewer calories and fight hunger cravings.
In a four-week randomized controlled trial, daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of almonds reduced hunger and desire to eat.
7. Almonds May Boost Energy Levels
Almonds are packed with B vitamins, which enhance your body’s conversion of food into energy and magnesium to prevent muscle fatigue. High fiber and protein content may help you sustain your energy levels for a reasonable amount of time.
Also, almonds are a good source of iron, which our bodies use to carry oxygen. Low iron levels can cause fatigue, so pop a few almonds if you’re feeling tired. But if you’re really lacking energy and can’t seem to find out why, consider seeing your doctor for further investigations.
8. Almonds Are Rich In Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant, meaning it protects the body against damage from the oxidation of free radicals in the body.
Oxidation has been linked to numerous health problems, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, aging, and cataract formation.
High consumption of vitamin E has been associated with reduced risk for cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin E is also essential for the absorption of vitamin A, boosting the immune system, and protecting against UV damage.
One ounce of almonds provides up to 37 percent of your daily vitamin E requirements. This makes almonds one of the best sources of vitamin E.
9. Almonds Are High In Magnesium
Magnesium is essential for different biochemical reactions in the body, including:
- Sleep regulation
- Lowering high blood pressure
- Improving depression and anxiety
- Preventing migraines
- Strengthening bones
- Stimulating the absorption of minerals
- Increasing collagen production
- Maintaining a steady heartbeat
- Offering anti-inflammatory benefits
- Reducing insulin resistance
An ounce of almonds will offer 75.0 milligrams of magnesium, which is 19 percent of the total daily recommendation.
If you are not consuming enough magnesium-containing foods, adding almonds to your diet may help you achieve your daily requirements.
10. It May Improve Diabetes.
Magnesium plays a vital role in blood glucose regulation and insulin signaling. But in diabetes, magnesium is lost through urine. This causes metabolic disruption, causing more insulin resistance.
Studies show that supplementing on magnesium may help improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, going for a natural source like daily consumption of almonds may equally offer sufficient amounts of magnesium and improve insulin resistance. Read More.
Almonds are also low on the glycemic index, and people with diabetes know that high-glycemic foods cause spikes in blood sugar, but most people aren’t aware of what a low glycemic index means for their health.
A food with a low glycemic index (GI) is digested slowly and released into your bloodstream at a controlled rate, resulting in smaller and more consistent increases in blood sugar levels than higher GI foods. If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, you can reduce your risk by consuming almonds as part of a balanced diet.
11. They are rich in protein
Another health benefit of almonds is that they are rich in protein. Protein is a macronutrient needed for various body functions, including
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Promoting healing and repair
- Boosting the immune system
- Increasing body metabolism
- Slowing the aging process
- Promoting skin health
- Enhance tissue growth
- Promoting hormonal balance
- Maintaining ideal weight
- Preventing cardiovascular conditions
- Maintaining strong bones
An ounce serving of almonds (about 23 almonds) can provide up to 6 grams of protein, or 20 percent of your daily protein needs. This makes almonds an excellent source of protein, especially for those on a plant-based diet like vegans. You can easily build upon the remaining 80 percent by incorporating other protein sources throughout the day.
How to Eat Almonds
Almonds are available as whole nuts, flour, milk, butter, oil, flaked, or slivered. This makes them a suitable ingredient for various dishes. See How To Make Homemade Almond Milk, How To Make Almond Flour and Almond Butter.
You can enjoy almonds in various ways like:
a. Add them to smoothies
One of my favorite things about smoothies is that they’re a delicious way to sneak in all sorts of healthy ingredients, like chia seeds and almonds. You can blend them up with fruit or vegetables like spinach for a satisfying breakfast or snack. You can also use almond milk in place of water or animal milk.
b. Use them as a topping
Top salads with whole or chopped almonds, sprinkle them over frozen yogurt, or add them to your cereal. They’re a tasty addition to savory dishes too; try sprinkling them on casseroles and stir-fries. The crunch adds interest and visual appeal without too much extra effort on your part.
c. Bake with almond flour
Almond flour is easily interchangeable with regular all-purpose flour in your favorite recipes. Besides, it’s a healthy alternative since gluten in wheat flour is highly inflammatory and can be tough to digest. Almond flour is a little more expensive than traditional wheat flour, but making it yourself at home can reduce costs by up to half.
d. Blend into pesto
Toss some chopped almonds into your next batch of pesto for a nutty spin, or create an almond butter base for homemade hummus.
e. Make a trail mix
If you’re short on time but want a quick snack, a trail mix is an easy solution. Put together a trail mix of almonds, pumpkin seeds, and some dried fruit, and you’re good to go.
f. Snack on roasted almonds
Roasting nuts makes them taste amazing, plus it brings out their natural oils. This little trick also improves their nutritional value by helping you absorb more nutrients from these healthy snacks.
A 2012 study published in the Nutrition Journal found that almonds contain 18 percent more antioxidants after being roasted for 10 minutes. Additionally, roasted almonds are a lot easier to chew and digest than raw ones.
g. Use almond milk in recipes
An excellent substitute for those who are lactose intolerant or on a plant-based diet. So if you’re going to cook with almonds, it makes sense to make use of them in their most versatile form: liquid. Homemade almond milk is easy and fun.
Plus, when you do it yourself, you know that only natural ingredients went into your creation (no carrageenan or high-fructose corn syrup). In addition to adding almond milk as a cooking ingredient, be sure to include it as an option for drinking!
Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts out there – they’re packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, plus they have some unique antioxidant properties that can lower your cholesterol and help prevent heart disease, among others. With all the benefits almonds provide, they are definitely good for you!
Almonds are commonly eaten as a snack, but they can be used in many other ways, from using almond milk in recipes to swapping almond flour for wheat flour when baking; their uses are endless. So start adding some almonds to your diet whenever you can.
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