Almonds have been known for their health benefits for a long period now. Almonds originated from shores of the Mediterranean, northern Africa and Indian peninsula. Passed on through several generations from ancient civilisations, almonds have now become famous worldwide for their nutritional benefits. In Indian, almonds are even believed to be good for improving brain cognitive abilities, and longevity.
Even though almonds are not a ‘true nut’ in the scientific sense, but they are considered to be nuts in common parlance. Almonds are a wonderful source of dietary fibre, antioxidants, proteins, minerals like calcium and magnesium, and vitamins.
Lets have a brief look at the nutritional values of the almonds to highlight the mineral and vitamin content of the almonds. The table also provides an insight into what 100 grams can offer in terms of a percentage of the Recommended Dietary Allowances or RDA.
Nutritional facts of almonds per 100 grams or 3.5Oz(3)
Amount in almonds
Energy 576 Kcal
Carbohydrates 21.69 g
Dietary fiber 12.2 g
Fat 49.42 g
Saturated 3.731 g
Monounsaturated 30.889 g
Polyunsaturated 12.070 g
Protein 21.22 g
Minerals RDA (4) % of RDA
Calcium 264 mg 1000 26%
Iron 3.72 mg 13.7-15 12-27%
Magnesium 268 mg 420 65%
Manganese 2.285 mg 2.3 105%
Phosphorus 484 mg 700 69%
Potassium 705 mg 4700 15%
Sodium 1 mg 1500 0%
Zinc 3.08 mg 11 32%
Vitamin A 1 IU
Thiamine (B1) 0.211 mg 1.2 18%
Riboflavin (B2) 1.014 mg 1.3 78%
Niacin (B3) 3.385 mg 16 21%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.469 mg 5 9%
Vitamin B6 0.143 mg 1.3 11%
Folate (B9) 50 μg 400 12.5%
Choline 52.1 mg 550 11%
Vitamin C 0 mg 90
Vitamin D 0 μg 15
Vitamin E 26.2 mg 15 175%
Vitamin K 0.0 μg 120
The RDA mentioned above is for a healthy 44 year old male.
Even a brief look at the table will give you an idea about the nutritional highlights of almonds. They are really good source of dietary fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese and Vitamin E.
Almonds are good for heart
Almonds have a unique cocktail of ingredients which are good for heart. They have MUFAs or Mono-unsaturated fatty acids along with anti-oxidants like Vitamin E which are great for endothelial lining of blood vessels of heart. This reduces inflammation, which is a key event in development of fatty plaques inside the blood vessel walls.
Almonds have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, Low density lipoprotein(LDL).
Almonds being low in saturated fatty acids, and rich in unsaturated fatty acids provide help improve lipid profile benefitting the heart. Almonds have certain other cardioprotective nutrients like α-tocopherol, arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, and potassium. Mechanisms responsible for the LDL cholesterol reduction observed with almond consumption are likely associated with the nutrients almonds provide.(3)
Almonds also help in weight loss, better sugar control in diabetics and also help in blood pressure control.
Therefore, consumption of almonds instead of a carbohydrate snack is a simple strategy to achieve a healthy heart.
Almonds are good for reducing cholesterol
The cholesterol profile improving effects of almonds has been widely established. The lowering of bad cholesterol, Low density lipoprotein or LDL is because of the presence of heart favourable lipid content, high fibre, phytosterol and antioxidants. (4) LDL cholesterol is highly affected by what you eat. Almonds have been shown to consistently reduce LDL in healthy individuals, and in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. These effects have been seen in both controlled and free-living settings.(3)
Almonds are rich source of antioxidants
Antioxidants as the name suggests, help fight oxidants and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an important factor in causing damage to inner lining of blood vessels, also known as endothelium causing risk to your heart. Besides cardiovascular diseases, oxidative stress has been postulated to be associated with development of cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants are also believed to improve skin tone and reduce wrinkling.
Even though the role of antioxidant supplements in reducing risk of cancer and cardiovascular remains debatable, naturally occurring antioxidants like those in almonds are still recommended for their potential health benefits.
Almonds help improve sugar control in diabetics
The combination of healthy fats, high dietary fibres and low carbohydrates makes it a good food for improving glycemic control. High amounts of magnesium also help in improving sugar profile. Almonds reduce hunger and desire to eat, besides improving the post meal handling of increased blood glucose levels.
Almonds help fight obesity
Almonds have been shown to be beneficial in reducing weight and fighting obesity. This might be because of their high dietary fibre content and a favourable lipid composition. Studies have shown that participants on almond snack instead of a muffin snack had significant reduction in abdominal and leg adiposity, even when there was no difference in calorie intake. This was also substantiated with an objective decrease in waist circumference. (4)
Almonds are good source of Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency has been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease like coronary artery disease,hypertension, and cardiac rhythm abnormalities. It is also hypothesised to be related to occurrence of diabetes mellitus, liver cirrhosis and diseases of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
The daily dietary intake of magnesium is however frequently found to be below that recommended in Western countries.(5) The same is perhaps true in rest of the world as well.
Almonds being a rich source of Magnesium, are good supplements for making up the magnesium deficiency in the regular diet.