Nutritional Benefits of Almonds
Like fruit and vegetables, almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health. There have been many studies done about the health benefits of almonds. Enjoying a handful of almonds (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.
Here’s why almonds, like all nuts, are a worthwhile addition to your diet:
- Rich source of healthy fats – almonds contain healthy unsaturated fats,predominantly monounsaturated fat (66% of total fat), plus have a lowproportion of saturated fat (7% of total fat) and are free of trans fats & like all other plant foods, they 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 recommended intake. 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 reabsorption in the intestine. Almonds contain 141mg of plant sterols per 100g.
- Source of plant protein particularly arginine – almonds contain around 6g protein in every handful (30g). Arginine is an amino acid building block of protein which 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 ‘bad’ 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%.9 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 LDL cholesterol by a third.
- Prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol – one study found including almonds in the diet for a month led to a reduction in oxidised LDL cholesterol. Oxidised cholesterol is sticky and can block arteries. Almond skins have also been found to be a rich source of antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, particularly in conjunction with antioxidant vitamin E. Almonds have a high antioxidant capacity as measured by ORAC.
- Reduces oxidative stress – a study of smokers found that eating 84g of almonds for 4 weeks reduced biomarkers of oxidative stress while another found that eating almonds with a meal reduced oxidative damage. Oxidation causes damage to the cells in our body and is believed to be an
important factor in the development of diseases such as heart disease, cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as playing a role in ageing.
- Anti-inflammatory effects – Antioxidants and other phytochemicals also play an important role in reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is thought to cause many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Consumption of 68g, or two handfuls, of almonds reduced some biomarkers of inflammation in a recent study.
A combination of the healthy fats, antioxidants, fibre, plant sterols and arginine content of almonds and their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol reducing effects may explain why almonds promote heart health!
|Total lipid (fat)||g||54.7||16.4|
|Plant sterols (phytosterols)||mg||141||42|
|Calcium – Ca||mg||250||75|
|Iron – Fe||mg||3.9||1.2|
|Magnesium – Mg||mg||260||78|
|Phosphorus – P||mg||480||144|
|Potassium – K||mg||740||222|
|Sodium – Na||mg||5||1.5|
|Zinc – Zn||mg||3.7||1.1|
|Copper – Cu||mg||1||0.3|
|Manganese – Mn||mg||2.29||0.69|
|Selenium – Se||mcg||2.5||0.75|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg_RAE||2||0.6|
|Vitamin A, IU||mcg||9||2.7|