Almonds are among the world’s most popular tree nuts. They are highly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Here are 9 health benefits of almonds.
1. Almonds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients
Almonds are the edible seeds of Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree. They are native to the Middle East, but the US is now the world’s largest producer. The almonds you can buy in stores usually have the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside. They are sold either raw or roasted. They are also used to produce almond milk, oil, butter, flour or paste — also known as marzipan.
Almonds boast an impressive nutrient profile. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds contains (1):
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated)
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
- Manganese: 32% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
- They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.
This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates. It is important to note that your body does not absorb 10–15% of their calories because some of the fat is inaccessible to digestive enzymes (2, 3). Almonds are also high in phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed. While phytic acid is generally considered a healthy antioxidant, it also slightly reduces the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you get from almonds.
SUMMARY: Almonds are very popular tree nuts. Almonds are high in healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, protein and various important nutrients.
2. Almonds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Almonds are a fantastic source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in your cells and contribute to inflammation, aging and diseases like cancer (4, 5). The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin (6, 7, 8).
For this reason, blanched almonds — those with skin removed — are not the best choice from a health perspective.A clinical trial in 60 male smokers found that about 3 ounces (84 grams) of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23–34% over a four-week period (9). These findings support those of another study which found that eating almonds with main meals reduced some markers of oxidative damage (10).
SUMMARY: Almonds are high in antioxidants that can protect your cells from oxidative damage, a major contributor to aging and disease.
3. Almonds Are High in Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble antioxidants. These antioxidants tend to build up in cell membranes in your body, protecting your cells from oxidative damage. Almonds are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E, with just 1 ounce providing 37% of the RDI (1). Several studies have linked higher vitamin E intake with lower rates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
SUMMARY: Almonds are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E. Getting plenty of vitamin E from foods is linked to numerous health benefits.
4. Almonds Can Assist With Blood Sugar Control
Nuts are low in carbs but high in healthy fats, protein and fiber. This makes them a perfect choice for people with diabetes. Another boon of almonds is their remarkably high amount of magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral involved in more than 300 bodily processes, including blood sugar control (17). The current RDI for magnesium is 310–420 mg. 2 ounces of almonds provide almost half that amount — 150 mg of this important mineral (1).
Interestingly, 25–38% of people with type 2 diabetes are deficient in magnesium. Correcting this deficiency significantly lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin function (18, 19, 20). People without diabetes also see major reductions in insulin resistance when supplementing with magnesium (21, 22). This indicates that high-magnesium foods such as almonds may help prevent metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, both of which are major health problems.
SUMMARY: Almonds are extremely high in magnesium, a mineral that many people don’t get enough of. High magnesium intake may offer major improvements for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
5. Magnesium Also Benefits Blood Pressure Levels
The magnesium in almonds may additionally help lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is one of the leading drivers of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. A deficiency in magnesium is strongly linked to high blood pressure regardless of whether you are overweight (23, 24, 25). Studies show that correcting a magnesium deficiency can lead to major reductions in blood pressure (26, 27).
If you do not meet the dietary recommendations for magnesium, adding almonds to your diet could have a huge impact.
SUMMARY: Low magnesium levels are strongly linked to high blood pressure, indicating that almonds can help control blood pressure.
6. Almonds Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
High levels of LDL lipoproteins in your blood — also known as “bad” cholesterol — is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Your diet can have major effects on LDL levels. Some studies have shown almonds to effectively lower LDL.
A 16-week study in 65 people with prediabetes found that a diet providing 20% of calories from almonds lowered LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 12.4 mg/dL (28). Another study found that eating 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of almonds per day lowered LDL cholesterol by 5.3 mg/dL while maintaining “good” HDL cholesterol. Participants also lost belly fat (29).
SUMMARY: Eating one or two handfuls of almonds per day can lead to mild reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
7. Almonds Prevent Harmful Oxidation of LDL Cholesterol
Almonds do more than just lower LDL levels in your blood. They also protect LDL from oxidation, which is a crucial step in the development of heart disease. Almond skin is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which prevent oxidation of cholesterol in test-tubes and animal studies (30, 31). The effect may be even stronger when combined with other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
One human study showed that snacking on almonds for one month lowered oxidized LDL cholesterol levels by 14% (32). This should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
SUMMARY: “Bad” LDL cholesterol can become oxidized, which is a crucial step in the development of heart disease. Snacking on almonds has been shown to significantly reduce oxidized LDL.
8. Eating Almonds Reduces Hunger, Lowering Your Overall Calorie Intake
One four-week study in 137 participants showed that a daily 1.5-ounce (43-gram) serving of almonds significantly reduced hunger and the desire to eat (35). Numerous other studies support the hunger-fighting effects of nuts (36).
SUMMARY: While nuts are low in carbs, they are high in protein and fiber. Studies show that eating almonds and other nuts can increase fullness and help you eat fewer calories.
9. Almonds May Be Effective For Weight Loss
Nuts contain several nutrients that your body struggles to break down and digest. Your body does not absorb about 10–15% of the calories in nuts. Additionally, some evidence suggests that eating nuts can boost metabolism slightly (37). Due to their satiating properties, nuts are a great addition to an effective weight loss diet. Quality human research supports this.
In one study, a low-calorie diet with 3 ounces (84 grams) of almonds increased weight loss by 62% compared to a diet enriched with complex carbohydrates (38). Another study in 100 overweight women found that those consuming almonds lost more weight than those on a nut-free diet. They also showed improvements in waist circumference and other health markers (39). Despite being high in fat, almonds are definitely a weight-loss-friendly food. Almonds and other nuts are very high in calories. As a snack, they should be on the binge eaters’ blacklist.
SUMMARY: Though almonds are high in calories, eating them doesn’t seem to promote weight gain. Some studies even suggest the opposite, showing that almonds can enhance weight loss.
The Bottom Line
Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss. All things considered, almonds are as close to perfect as a food can get.