7 Great Things about Almonds
- Rich source of healthy fats – almonds contain healthy unsaturated fats, predominantly mono-unsaturated fat (66% of total fat), plus have a low proportion of saturated fat (7% of total fat).
- Like all other plant foods, almonds are also cholesterol free.
- Excellent source of natural vitamin E – almonds are high in vitamin E with a 30g serve providing over 70% of the RDI. [6, 7] Vitamin E is an important fat soluble vitamin and antioxidant which can help maintain a healthy heart.
- Contains natural plant sterols  which can help to lower cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol re-absorption in the intestine. Almonds contain 172mg of plant sterols per 100g.
- Source of plant protein particularly amino acid arginine – almonds contain around 6g protein in every 30g handful.  Arginine is converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to relax and remain elastic, and helps prevent blood clotting. Hardening of the arteries and blood clotting can lead to heart disease.
- Improves blood cholesterol – almonds lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. One study found that a 73g serve of almonds each day reduced LDL cholesterol by almost 10% while 37g, or around a handful, reduced LDL by around 5%.  The consumption of almonds as part of a vegetarian diet which was also low in saturated fat, and high in plant sterols, soy protein and soluble fibre, was found to reduce LD Lcholesterol by a third. [10, 12]
- A study conducted by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and released in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) provides a new understanding of almonds’ calorie count, showing that whole almonds provide about 20 percent fewer calories than originally thought.  This study indicates that the Atwater factors, when applied to certain foods, may result in overestimation of their measured metabolisable energy content. Traditional methods overstated the calories from almonds because they do not account for the fat that is not fully absorbed. This is thought to be due, in part, to the fibre content and/or the rigidity of almond cell walls.
Almonds are a versatile tree nut. They come whole, blanched, slivered, flaked and ground, so make a useful ingredient adding texture and taste to meals. Plus, like fruit and vegetables, almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health. Enjoying a handful of nuts (30–50g) regularly as part of a healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and can help with weight management.1–5 So eat two serves of fruit, five serves of veggies and a handful of nuts every day. A 30g serve of almonds is about 20 nuts. Have you had yours today?
Almonds also …
- Contain calcium – a 30g serve of almonds provides around 70mg, or7% of your daily calcium needs. An important source of calcium for those that can’t eat or don’t like dairy.
- Contain plant iron and zinc – important minerals especially for anyone following a vegetarian diet. Increase the absorption of plant iron from nuts by combining with vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruit or juices.
- Benefit digestive health – natural almonds are a source of dietary fibre which is important for a healthy digestive system – a 30g serve provides around 10% of the recommended dietary intake. Research has also shown that almonds may have potential as a prebiotic – these are non-digestible carbohydrates in a food which stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Improve blood glucose control – researchers have found that the addition of almonds to a meal can reduce the rise in blood glucose which occurs after eating. One study found that the more almonds that were added to the meal, the greater the effect on blood glucose levels. A 90g serve can reduce the glycemic index of the meal more than 50% compared to the 30g serve.
- Help with weight loss – research has found that eating almonds (and other nuts) does not lead to weight gain and in fact can help with weight management. One study of overweight adults who included 84g of almonds a day as part of a low-calorie diet showed those who ate almonds had a 62% greater weight loss compared to the control group. Not surprisingly when almonds’ great taste help you stick to a healthy diet for longer.
The above information is available from Nuts For Life in their Almond Fact Sheet
- Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians Health Study. ArchIntern Med, 2002;162(12):1382–7.
- Ellsworth JL, et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in post-menopausal women: the Iowa Women‘s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372–7.
- Hu FB, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341–5.
- Fraser GE, et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med, 1991; 152: 1416–24.
- Jiang R, et al. Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;288(20):2554–60.
- Nuts for Life. 2012 Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. Sydney: Nuts for Life; 2012
- National Health & Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing 2006. www.nrv.gov.au
- Ros E. Nuts and novel biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1649S–56S
- Jenkins DJ, et al. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 2002;106(11):1327–1332.
- Jenkins DJ, et al. Effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods vs lovastatin on serum lipids and C-reactive protein. JAMA. 2003;290(4):502–510.
- Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):380–387.
- Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012 ajcn.035782; First published online July 3, 2012.doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.035782