Almonds are nutrient-dense tree nuts that are packed with health benefits. This popular delicious snack can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood sugar levels, support weight loss, and even boost brainpower.
With a definite superfood status, almonds are well worth adding to your diet. They're rich in protein and fatty acids, while being relatively low in carbohydrates and calories, making them a fantastic weight-loss food. Read on to discover the best health benefits of almonds, almond milk and almond butter - and learn why you should stock up on them from this moment onwards...
1. Reduces Inflammation
Almonds contain antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which help to naturally lower inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is very common in today's world - it occurs when the body believes it's under constant attack, usually as a result of a poor diet.
The main fat found in almonds comes from oleic acid, which can also be found in olive oil - this, as we all know, is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods. For that reason, it makes sense that almonds are also a fantastic food for naturally reducing inflammation, and can thus help to reduce obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other concerning health conditions. Almonds can also reduce oxidative stress, preventing further inflammatory damage in the body.
2. Good Source of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a lesser-known fat-soluble vitamin that plays a huge role in preventing disease. This powerful antioxidant can prevent free radical damage to cells, which is caused by pollution, smoking, and a poor diet. Resultantly, when your body gets enough vitamin E, you're at a lower risk of developing diseases like cancer.
A single 1 ounce serving of almonds contains approximately 37% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline.
3. Protects Against Cognitive Decline
According to a number of promising studies, supplementing with vitamin E (which is found in abundance in almonds) can prevent and slow cognitive decline. In one clinical trial, vitamin E was successfully used to treat people who had moderate to severe cognitive impairment, and even showed promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
If that wasn't enough, a single serving of almonds contains around one-fifth of our recommended riboflavin, which is needed to protect the brain from diseases like Parkinson's.
4. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Though diet alone can't prevent cancer, research shows that certain healthy foods can help reduce the risk of this disease when added to our daily diet. In studies, people who ate higher quantities of almonds had three times less of a chance of developing certain cancers than those who rarely ate them.
Research has linked higher levels of vitamin E with a reduced risk of developing colon cancer, too, especially in adults under the age of 65. This vitamin may also reduce prostate cancer rates and reduce oxidative stress in general.
It's important to note that most of the cancer-fighting properties of almonds are contained in their dark brown outer shell, so it's better to eat unprocessed almonds instead of blanched or raw almonds that have had their outer shells removed.
5. Improves Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol, you probably know the importance of reducing your fat intake. But did you know there are actually healthy fats that can be beneficial to people with elevated cholesterol levels?
Almonds are a great source of healthy fat, and eating a handful of almonds per day has been found to reduce high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) while lowering low-density lipoproteins (bad LDL cholesterol). Good cholesterol actually decreases your risk of heart disease, while bad cholesterol puts you more at risk.
In one trial, participants eating almonds on a daily basis saw a reduction of bad cholesterol, while their good HDL cholesterol levels didn't change. There are many more trials to support the cholesterol health benefits of almonds, suggesting that almonds may help to lower cardiovascular risk and support heart health.
6. Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke and heart attack. If you have elevated blood pressure, almonds might be the unexpected remedy, with one medically-reviewed study of men between 20 and 70 finding that these tree nuts can improve arterial blood flow and lower blood pressure significantly within a matter of weeks.
It's thought that this could be because almonds are rich in magnesium. Being deficient in magnesium has been linked to elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
7. May Prevent Heart Disease
Again, it's the vitamin E in almonds that makes them so beneficial for heart health. According to medically-reviewed studies, people consuming almonds - or vitamin E in general - are up to 40% less likely to have heart disease.
Almonds may be one of the best foods to fight heart disease as they contain a particularly high amount of vitamin E per gram. Simply eating almonds every day has been found in studies to help lower oxidative damage in cells, thus reducing heart disease.
Additional evidence suggests that almonds can help with weight management, as those who consumed almonds in one study were found to have lower levels of visceral fat - the kind that accumulates around your waist and is linked to an increased risk of heart disease - than those who didn't.
8. Helps Balance Blood Sugar
Many people don't know that magnesium is important for controlling blood sugar, and that many people with type 2 diabetes have magnesium deficiencies. It's thought that including more magnesium in your diet can improve sensitivity to insulin - and as we know, almonds are high in this particular mineral.
Even if you don't have diabetes, you may still see a decreased likelihood of insulin resistance when you eat more magnesium, whether from almonds, almond butter or another almond product, on a daily basis. If you're battling with blood sugar problems, these health benefits of almonds are particularly important to note.
9. Supports Digestion
Whether you're experiencing occasional diarrhea or constipation or your problem is more long-term, it's likely that you need to add more fiber to your diet. Getting enough soluble and insoluble fiber will help to prevent digestive issues like constipation - just make sure you're drinking plenty of water as well as eating high fiber foods.
Almonds are high in fiber - they contain 3 grams of fiber in a single serving, so they're ideal for bulking up your stool and encouraging your digestive system to get things moving.
10. Maintains Healthy Gut Balance
Eating almonds can increase two types of gut bacteria known as bifidobacteria and Eubacterium rectale, according to a recent study. Almonds may also support the production of buyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, that has been found to improve gut performance and prevent colon cancer. A healthy gut is essential for overall health, and can even ward off mental illness.
11. Boosts The Immune System
Because almonds can boost healthy gut bacteria, they can also support the immune system. Yes, the two are linked - 70% of our immunity actually resides in the gut. Almonds and almond oil have been proven to be immunity-boosting, which is in part thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties.
In one study, researchers even found that natural almond skins can support antiviral defense, triggering a stronger immune reaction in infected cells.
12. Helps Build Muscle and Burn Fat
Trying to lose weight or build muscle is hard enough without combining the two together. The secret to adding more muscle mass while torching fat is to provide your muscles with plenty of protein and follow both muscle-building and cardio exercises.
Almonds are a fantastic source of protein, with a single serving of these nuts containing roughly the same protein content as an egg. Being this high in protein means almonds help you stay full and satiated when you snack on them between meals.
13. Supports Weight Loss
Although there are a number of factors that can affect your weight, such as genes, lifestyle and your everyday diet, it's perfectly possible to shed your extra pounds by making the right diet choices.
Studies have found that people who snack on almonds and other tree nuts have lower obesity rates, and those who snack on this nut at least twice a week tend to find it easier to maintain a healthy weight. It's thought that this is because almonds can boost the metabolism and encourage fat burn. Remember to seek medical advice if you need a professional to help lower your intake of calories the healthy way.
14. Strengthens Teeth and Bones
We all need calcium for healthy teeth and bones. A calcium deficiency can be incredibly dangerous, and may result in your body leaching calcium from your bones, which will make them brittle and more likely to break. As we get older, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing calcium, too, which makes it even more important to get a high amount of calcium in our diets.
Almonds contain a wealth of calcium, so it's no surprise that eating this nut has been linked to higher bone mineral density, which is the key to stronger bones. Almonds are also a good source of phosphorous, another mineral that's needed to fight osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
15. May Treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction is extremely common, but it can be embarrassing to talk about. As men get older, they experience hormonal changes that can make ED even more common. Increased stress, type 2 diabetes and reactions to certain medications may also trigger ED in men.
Both high cholesterol and high blood pressure can narrow blood vessels, so it's highly important that you tackle these issues if you're dealing with ED. And, as we know, almonds are effective in helping with both. Additionally, almonds are a source of arginine, a type of amino acid that can improve blood circulation and relax blood vessels, making it doubly effective in treating erectile dysfunction.
Plus, almonds' monounsaturated fat content can help to support reproductive system health, balance hormones and improve sex drive in both men and women.
16. Effective PCOS Treatment
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that affects the ovaries, and can cause symptoms like facial hair, irregular periods and difficulty getting pregnant. While you can't reverse PCOS, making healthy changes to your diet may improve your symptoms dramatically.
In one study, women with PCOS who snacked on almonds daily for 6 weeks saw a decrease in free androgens, which helped to control hormone levels. Considering people with PCOS typically have higher free androgens, this is certainly good news.
The B vitamins in these nuts also contain myo-inositol, which has been found in studies to reduce a number of issues related to PCOS, including weight gain and trouble with weight loss, irregular periods, and insulin sensitivity. As always, be sure to seek medical advice if you need it before adding almonds to your diet for PCOS treatment.
17. Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails
Thanks to their vitamin E antioxidant content, almonds have a number of skin, hair and nail benefits. They help to protect our skin from UV damage from the sun, and may even lower the risk of skin cancers. Many people use almond oil to rehydrate dry skin, too, and it has proven especially beneficial for people with dry skin conditions like eczema.
Additionally, a single serving of almonds contains nearly half of the biotin we need, which is essential for hair and nail growth.
Being fantastic sources of fatty acids, healthy fats, protein and fiber, and with fewer calories per serving than other nuts, the health benefits of almonds, almond milk and almond butter are obvious. If this guide has proved anything, it's that there are plenty of reasons to eat a handful of almonds every day!
You can find almonds at your local supermarket or health store, but it's often cheaper to buy them in bulk online. Try adding them to your stir-fries and stews, blending them into curry pastes, toasting them and using them to top your porridge, or keeping things simple and eating them alone as a satiating snack. You'll wonder why you haven't added them to your diet sooner!