Health Benefits of Almonds

almonds

Almonds are a nutrient-rich food that provide many health benefits. Adding almonds to your diet adds more than great taste and crunch. They are an excellent source of vitamin E, fiber, phosphorus, copper and riboflavin. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects your cells from damaging free radicals and from environmental dangers such as ultraviolet light from the sun and pollutants in the air1.

Go Nuts for Almonds

Including just a small handful of almonds as a daily snack is not only delicious, these nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, low in saturated fat and have no cholesterol. A daily handful of almonds together with other foods containing phytosterols may offer some protection from heart disease by decreasing LDL, or "bad," cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with increased plaque buildup in arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke2

Almond Nutrition Facts

almonds in saladAlmonds also contain soluble fiber, magnesium and phytosterols3.

Fiber is a compound found in many plant foods, including almonds. Humans do not have the ability to digest fiber so it moves through the digestive tract without being absorbed and helps control how quickly other nutrients from other foods enter the blood stream, as well as how quickly food moves through our body. Increasing fiber in your diet may help regulate your blood sugar, improve bowel regularity, and help “speed-up” your digestive tract as food moves through your intestines1,4.

Finally, eating almonds will increase your intake of magnesium. Magnesium is a very important mineral that plays a role in producing energy, controlling muscle contractions and building stronger bones1

History of Almonds

The almond tree was introduced to California in the mid-1700s by Spanish missionaries, but the trees did not grow well in the moist weather of the coast. In the 1800s, the almond trees were successfully planted inland in California’s central valley, and by the turn of the 20th century the almond industry was flourishing. In fact, California is the only place in North America where almonds are commercially grown.

The United States produces 68% of the world’s almond crop. Almonds are the top agricultural export of the state of California. Nearly 80 countries around the world import the almonds produced in California5

Ways to Enjoy Almonds

Not only are they a fabulous snack on their own, but almonds make a great addition to both savory dishes and sweet desserts. One serving of almonds is one ounce, or about 24 nuts. An ounce of almonds contains about 164 calories, so be careful of the portion size.

  • Mix sliced almonds in your morning cereal or oatmeal
  • Grab a small handful of almonds for a hearty on-the-go snack
  • Add slivered almonds to salads and stir-fries
  • Add some roasted, slivered almonds to your ice cream sundae for a delicious crunch
  • Add coarsely ground almonds as a “nut crumb” topping to casseroles and pasta dishes

Tip

As almonds age, they go rancid. A fresh almond will look white in the middle after slicing through it. To check for a rancid almond, simply slice the almond open. If it is yellow in color or has the appearance of a honeycomb, it has gone bad.

Enjoy the health benefits of almonds by trying delicious almond recipes.

 

 

 

References: 

1. Ross A. Modern nutrition in health and disease (11th ed.). 2014. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  

2. Michas G, Micha R, Zampelas A. Dietary fats and cardiovascular disease: putting together the pieces of a complicated puzzle. Atherosclerosis. 2014 Jun;234(2):320-8.  

3.Boiling BW, Chen CY, McKay DL, Blumberg JB. Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Nutr Res Rev. 2011 Dec;24(2):244-75.  

4. Kumar V, Sinha AK, Makkar HP, de Boeck G, Becker K. Dietary roles of non-starch polysaccharides in human nutrition: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(10):899-935. 

5. California Department of Agriculture. Sacramento, CA. California Agriculture Production Statistics Web site. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/ Retrieved March 24, 2015.