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9 Health Benefits of Almonds Nutrition
1. Helps Prevent Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
Why are almonds good for you if you’re at risk for heart disease? Two of the star chemical compounds of almonds nutrition are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and antioxidants that support heart health and prevent factors of cardiovascular disease. Almonds specifically supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant-based compounds present in the skin of almonds that work with vitamin E to improve artery health and reduce inflammation.
Almonds nutrition also holds key nutrients to heart health, including arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium. Studies show almonds have a consistent “bad” LDL cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. One study found that consuming almonds as a daily snack reduced the levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol without changing high-density lipoprotein (HDL “good” cholesterol).
Almonds help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous plaque buildup. Almonds nutrition benefits also make them a great food to support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity — three of the biggest risk factors associated with heart attacks and stroke.2. Supports Healthy Brain Function
Almonds are often considered one of the best brain foods. Almonds nutrition is somewhat unique in that almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, two key nutrients capable of positively affecting neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline.
Almonds seem to help protect the brain by fighting oxidative stress. Certain studies conducted on rats found that almonds can help improve memory, fight neurological diseases and protect against age-associated cognitive dysfunction. This is one reason why adults, especially the elderly, are encouraged to eat nuts several times per week. They are associated with a reduction in the risk for inflammation that can cause brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.3. Maintains Skin Health
Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and other antioxidants that nourish the skin and reduce signs of aging. Research finds that almonds nutrition contains high concentrations of catechin, epicatechin and flavonol antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. These compounds fight skin cancer and damage by reversing oxidative stress from a poor diet, pollution and UV light exposure. Almonds’ healthy fats, plus their ability to improve circulation, also help keep skin hydrated and better able to heal wounds.4. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels and Prevent Diabetes
Studies show that almonds have positive effects on glucose tolerance and risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Almonds’ rich supply of MUFAs helps slow the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream. In addition to managing blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance (which can occur over time when the body becomes less reactive to insulin, the sugar-controlling hormone), almonds nutrition benefits include the ability to lower other common diabetes risks: unhealthy body weight, inflammation and high levels of oxidative stress.5. Aids Weight Loss and Helps Prevent Overeating
Are almonds healthy or fattening? Despite the relatively high amount of calories in almonds, healthy fats and dietary fiber found in almonds nutrition aid in weight loss because they help you feel full. This curbs overeating and unhealthy snacking. A 2013 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded, “Almonds provide post-ingestive metabolic and appetitive benefits and did not increase the risk for weight gain.”
Although nuts are high in fat and calories, they prolong the feeling of satisfaction after you eat and keep your blood sugar more stable than low-fat meals do. Thus, you’re less likely to experience a roller coaster of energy dips and food cravings.
Studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, even show that almonds support a healthy metabolism. Also, people who frequently eat almonds and other nuts retain healthier body weights and lower rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome over time compared to those who avoid nuts.
Do almonds help you lose belly fat? Some studies show that when dieters eat almonds daily, they are less likely to overconsume carbohydrates and more likely to reach and maintain a healthier body weight. This can include having less dangerous visceral fat. Visceral fat is the kind that surrounds your organs and increases the risk for certain diseases.
For example, one 2003 article published in the International Journal of Obesity found that when women consumed almonds over a six-month period, compared to other women who didn’t eat almonds, they experienced greater reductions in weight/BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and systolic blood pressure.6. Increases Nutrient Absorption
The body needs adequate amounts of fat in the diet in order to properly absorb “fat-soluble” nutrients, like vitamins A and D. Almonds are also capable of positively affecting the gastrointestinal tract, reducing acid buildup and balancing the body’s pH. A healthy pH level is crucial for proper digestion, immunity and disease prevention. Additionally, the nutrients present in almonds may help regulate digestive enzymes that are involved in nutrient extraction, cholesterol synthesis and bile acid production.7. Improves Digestive Health
In addition to healthy fats and alkaline-forming molecules, almonds (especially the skin of almonds) contain prebiotic components that help with digestion, detoxification and healthy bacterial growth within the microbiota/gut flora. This is key to actually utilizing nutrients from the foods we eat.
Studies suggest that almonds and almond skins may lead to an improvement in the “intestinal microbiota profile.” This means the intestine’s bacterial activities improve and promote numerous health benefits due to the presence of prebiotic properties, the precursors for probiotics. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture found, “Both raw and roasted almonds exhibit potential prebiotic effects, including regulation of intestinal bacteria and improved metabolic activities.”
A 2014 study by the Institute of Food Science & Technology in China found that when women ate a daily dose of 56 grams of almonds over an eight-week period, significant increases in the populations of healthy gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus were observed.8. Can Help Fight Cancer and Inflammation
Almonds contain gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that acts as a powerful antioxidant. Thus, almonds fight free radical damage and oxidative stress that are linked to cancer. Many studies find a link between nut consumption and cancer prevention, including a reduced risk for colon, prostate and breast cancers.9. Helps Maintain Dental and Bone Health
Almonds are a good source of trace minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus, which play a role in building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Due to their mineral content, almonds nutrition benefits may include the ability to help prevent tooth decay, fight cavities, lower the risk for bone fractures and fight osteoporosis.