Almonds are enjoyed by many nut lovers due to their specific taste and crunchy texture. They are the fruit of the almond tree and are made up of edible seeds that resemble teardrop shapes. As well as being loved as a delicious treat, almonds have numerous health benefits, are full of many nutrients and contribute towards weight loss as well as reducing belly fat and boosting metabolism. They can aid in weight loss as they are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fibre, thus they can lower calorie intake whilst helping you feel full. Almonds are therefore great alternatives as a snack option for a healthier diet and are easily available in many supermarkets.
Overall, almonds are nutritious and tasty and can contribute to many health benefits which will be explored in this article.
Health benefits of almonds
Almonds have many different health benefits and whilst they are packed full of flavour, they also contain good nutrition and provide nourishment which promotes overall health and wellbeing. They contain fibre and healthy fat that is good for the heart as well as containing many vitamins and antioxidants which will be discussed further in this article.
Almonds have also been known to promote gut health. A study published in 2022 found that individuals who had consumed whole and ground almonds had a higher level of butyrate.1 Which is a short-chain fatty acid that serves as the main energy source for cells that line the wall of the colon. An increase in butyrate stimulates the growth of gut bacteria, allows nutrients to be absorbed and allows for a strong gut wall which contributes to overall gut health. Furthermore, this study also found that the group that consumed more almonds than the control group had an increased level of essential nutrients, monounsaturated fatty acids and fibre. It was also shown that eating almonds improved bacterial metabolism which therefore has a positive impact on human health as it can aid in weight management.2
As well as gut health, almonds have been found to lower blood pressure and enhance vascular performance which helps with cardiovascular diseases as it promotes a healthy heart.3 Studies have also found that maintaining an almond-rich diet has demonstrated a reduction in low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, as well as maintaining high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, which is a ‘good cholesterol’ found in the body. Thus, almonds are a great, healthy addition to include in a diet for those with high cholesterol levels.
Now that we know almonds have many health benefits inside our bodies, studies have also shown almonds can help maintain good skin and help with the ageing process. This is because almonds are high in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which helps with dark circles, a common problem that many of us can struggle with because of our early-morning commutes. Vitamin E can also assist and protect the skin against harmful UV rays from the sun. Furthermore, as they are rich in fatty acids, almonds can also help with skin dryness as well as promote healthy hair.
Nutrients we can get from almonds
Almonds contain many essential and beneficial nutrients that should be included in our daily lives. They are made up of healthy components which contain fatty acids, amino acids, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins. Almonds contain minerals and vitamins including aluminium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, boron, zinc, iron, selenium, vitamins B6, vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, folate and riboflavin.4
It’s no wonder that almonds are often referred to as “brain food” due to the high levels of nutrients that help with brain functions, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin B6 supports protein metabolism which in turn allows for brain cell repair. Vitamin E has been known to help with memory and studies show age-related cognitive decline and poor memory function are linked to low Vitamin E levels. Lastly, Zinc, which is also an antioxidant, is essential for brain development and cognitive abilities.
Almonds also contain high levels of magnesium as 100g of almonds were found to contain 260 mg of magnesium. Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions such as the maintenance of bone health and can also help with conditions such as diabetes as they can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
How to include almonds in our diet
Although almonds can be enjoyed raw, it is highly recommended to soak almonds in water before consumption. Raw almonds should be completely submerged in water for 8-12 hours and then left to dry for an additional 12 hours and can then be consumed and stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. Almonds that have been soaked are advantageous as the brown outer layer of the raw almond contains tannin which prevents nutrients from being absorbed; soaked almonds allow the brown layer to be easily peeled off. Soaked almonds also encourage the release of the enzyme lipase which aids in digestion. Soaked almonds are also easier to consume and are less damaging to the teeth and can therefore be added to our diets.
Another way to include almonds in your diet is by consuming almond butter, which has a similar consistency to peanut butter and can be found as a smooth or crunchy spread. Almond butter contains both healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and consuming two tablespoons a day as a healthy snack can promote fullness which helps with weight loss.
Almond oil is another great alternative for the incorporation of almonds into our diets. Almond oil has many great health benefits and is known to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Moreover, studies found almond oil has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health, which caused an increase in HDL-C levels (good cholesterol) and reduced the risk of colon cancer.5
Lastly, almond milk is enriched with many nutrients such as Vitamin D, calcium, potassium and Vitamin E, Vitamin B12. Consuming unsweetened almond milk can also help keep blood sugar levels down and is dairy-free and vegan-friendly so it is a great alternative for those who are consuming a plant-based diet.
Almonds can also be included in your diet through the use of almond flour, an alternative to wheat flour. This is especially useful for those with intolerances. Chopped almonds can be used in baking or as a topping on yoghurt for a healthy snack. Roasting almonds and including in homemade granola can be a great alternative to shop-bought cereals high in added sugar.
How much is enough?
It is recommended to consume 1 ounce of almonds a day, which is roughly equivalent to 23 almonds however, an overconsumption of almonds may cause more harm than good so you mustn't overindulge.
Although almonds are very rich in fibre, some doctors state that excessive fibre in the diet can lead to constipation, bloating and gas so it is recommended that women consume a total of 25g fibre per day and men consume 38g per day.
Having more than the recommended amount may affect the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Almonds are high in calories and can lead to unwanted weight gain if eaten in large amounts.
Excessive almonds can also have negative effects on nutrient absorption in the body and may reduce the absorption of essential nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and zinc in the body. Did you know around 23 almonds contain 163 calories which is quite high considering almonds are small snacks? However, if you are physically active and lead a healthy lifestyle then this may not be an issue for you.
Lastly, although almonds are enjoyed by many, they can also have severe consequences to those with nut allergies. Some common symptoms associated with nut allergy include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Anaphylaxis, which is potentially life-threatening
- Abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Itching of eyes, mouth and skin
Thus, when consuming almonds or sharing almonds with other people it’s important to check for any potential allergies as symptoms can be severe.
Although they are small, almonds are packed full of flavour with many nutrients and health benefits. They have been found to promote gut health, a healthy heart, aid in brain function and have been found to help with weight loss thus contributing to a healthy diet.
Almonds can be enjoyed in many different forms and are now more readily available on the supermarket shelves due to the increase of plant-based diets and vegan-friendly and dairy-free alternatives. Therefore, we are more likely to see almonds in lots of different forms and many food items as they are a delicious and healthy alternative.
Almonds are also beneficial to our skin and hair and are found in many different beauty products. They are a natural ingredient packed full of antioxidants such as vitamin E which has been found to fight against harmful UV rays from the sun, help with skin dryness and also promote the healing of scars and burns.
As with all food types, almonds should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced and healthy diet.
- Creedon AC, Dimidi E, Hung ES, Rossi M, Probert C, Grassby T, et al. The impact of almonds and almond processing on gastrointestinal physiology, luminal microbiology, and gastrointestinal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial and mastication study. Am J Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2022 Sep 20 [cited 2023 Sep 5];116(6):1790–804. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9761756/
- Jurtshuk P. Bacterial metabolism. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology [Internet]. 4th ed. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996 [cited 2023 Sep 5]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7919/
- Kalita S, Khandelwal S, Madan J, Pandya H, Sesikeran B, Krishnaswamy K. Almonds and cardiovascular health: a review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Apr 11 [cited 2023 Sep 5];10(4):468. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946253/
- Barreca D, Nabavi SM, Sureda A, Rasekhian M, Raciti R, Silva AS, et al. Almonds (Prunus dulcis mill. D. A. Webb): a source of nutrients and health-promoting compounds. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Mar 1 [cited 2023 Sep 5];12(3):672. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146189/
- Ahmad Z. The uses and properties of almond oil. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice [Internet]. 2010 Feb 1 [cited 2023 Sep 5];16(1):10–2. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388109000772