Almonds (Prunus dulcis) are the seeds of almond trees. They are closely related to cherries, plums and peaches.
These nuts have been grown for thousands of years in the Mediterranean region, but today the US is the world’s largest producer.
They are an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, unsaturated fats and many other nutrients.
They may be eaten on their own, raw or toasted. They can also be made into almond flour, milk, syrup, butter and oil. Since they are gluten-free, almonds are often used in gluten free diets to replace wheat flour.
This is what almonds look like:
There are two main types of almonds: sweet and bitter. The sweet variety is edible, but the bitter nuts are processed for oil.
- Nutrition Facts
- 2.1 Fiber
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Plant Compounds
- Health Benefits
- Adverse Effects
The table below contains information about the nutrients in almonds (1).
|Trans fat||0.02 g|
|Vitamin A||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||~|
|Vitamin D||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin E||25.63 mg||171%|
|Vitamin K||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.21 mg||17%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||1.14 mg||88%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||3.62 mg||23%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)||0.47 mg||9%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.14 mg||11%|
|Vitamin B12||0 µg||~|
|Aspartic acid||2639 mg|
|Glutamic acid||6206 mg|
|Saturated fatty acids||3.802 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||31.551 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||12.329 g|
|20:5 n-3 (EPA)||0 mg|
|22:5 n-3 (DPA)||0 mg|
|22:6 n-3 (DHA)||0 mg|
Almonds are relatively low in carbs. One ounce (28 grams) has six grams of carbs, most of which are fiber.
They are also low in sugar, with only 1.2 grams per ounce.
Almonds are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which makes up about 12.5% of their weight. One ounce of almonds contains 3.5 grams of fiber.
Fiber helps moderate blood sugar by slowing absorption of carbohydrates. It has many other benefits as well, such as improved digestive health.
Bottom Line: Almonds are low in carbohydrates, but high in fiber. They should not have major effects on blood sugar levels.
Almonds are relatively high in protein, with 6 grams of protein per ounce.
Protein is essential for growth and various body functions.
However, almonds are lacking in the essential amino acids lysine, methionine and threonine.
Therefore, they are not considered a complete protein source (4).
Bottom Line: Almonds are relatively high in protein but are not considered a complete protein source. Nevertheless, they are a good source of the amino acid arginine.
By weight, almonds are roughly 50% fat.
About 90% of almond fat consists of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (7).
The main fatty acids in almonds are oleic acid and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid.
However, about 10–15% of the fat in almonds isn’t absorbed by the body (8).
Bottom Line: Almonds are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. About 10-15% of the fat in almonds isn’t absorbed by the body
Vitamins and Minerals
Almonds contain high amounts of several important vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin E: This antioxidant is essential for immune function and red blood cell formation. Almonds are one of the world’s best sources of vitamin E (9).
- Vitamin B2: Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 is important for growth and red blood cell production (10).
- Magnesium: This mineral is essential for all living organisms. Magnesium is important for blood pressure, bone health and many other important processes (11).
- Manganese: This nutrient is needed for the immune system, reproduction, digestion and bone growth (12).
- Phosphorus: This mineral is very important for teeth and bone health (13).
- Iron: A metallic element that serves many important functions. It is an essential component of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body (14).
Almonds also contain decent amounts of calcium, potassium and zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B3 and B9.
Bottom Line: Almonds contain many important nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and iron.
- Resveratrol: Also found in red wine, resveratrol may have benefits for heart health, diabetes and cancer (16).
- Catechin: Catechin is one of over 20 types of flavonoid antioxidants found in almond skin (17, 18).
- Epicatechin: Also found in cocoa and green tea, epicatechin may have beneficial effects on heart and brain health (19, 20).
- Kaempferol: This antioxidant is linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases and cancer (21).
- Quercetin: A beneficial plant compound with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects (22, 23).
The combination of vitamin E and flavonoid antioxidants in almonds may be particularly effective, having synergistic effects (24).
Many of the antioxidants in almonds are concentrated in the skin. Therefore, you should eat the whole nut to maximize the health benefits.
Bottom Line: Almonds contain many beneficial plant compounds, including powerful antioxidants like resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol and quercetin.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds have several characteristics that make them a weight loss friendly food.
About 10–15% of the fat in them isn’t absorbed by the body, so fewer calories are actually consumed (26).
Additionally, almonds are relatively high in both protein and fiber. These nutrients are known to promote a feeling of fullness and help people reduce calorie intake (27).
There is also some evidence that eating almonds, as well as other nuts, may slightly boost metabolism (28).
One study found that a low-calorie diet resulted in 62% more weight loss when supplemented with three ounces of almonds per day (29).
Another study followed 100 overweight women and found that almonds helped them lose more weight and belly fat, compared to women who were not eating nuts (30).
Bottom Line: Almonds are very filling, since they are high in protein and fiber. They may also boost metabolism. Several studies show that almonds can promote weight loss and help reduce belly fat.
Consuming almonds also appears to be beneficial for people who are already taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Almonds have been shown to help increase the effects of these drugs (36).
These nuts also protect the LDL particles from oxidative damage, which is linked to heart disease. One study found that eating almonds every day reduced oxidized LDL cholesterol by 14% (37).
Bottom Line: Eating almonds has been shown to help lower LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and protect the LDL particles from oxidative damage. Studies show that people who eat nuts have a lower risk of heart disease.
Almonds are an excellent food for people with type 2 diabetes. They are low in carbs, but high in fiber, protein and healthy fats.
They are also loaded with magnesium, a mineral that many diabetics are deficient in. Magnesium plays an important role in insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control (38).
Several studies show that nuts, like almonds, can lead to significant reductions in blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (39).
Additionally, studies show that almonds may reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by diabetes. This indicates a reduced risk of diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease (40, 41).
Bottom Line: Almonds are loaded with magnesium and other nutrients that are beneficial for diabetics. Eating almonds on a regular basis may also help moderate blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
The bacteria that reside in the digestive system are incredibly important for overall health, and have been linked to a reduced risk of many of diseases (42).
One study shows that eating almonds can improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system (43).
Bottom Line: Whole almonds are beneficial for digestion. They can also improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
Almonds are well tolerated by most people.
However, some people may be allergic to them, and bitter almonds are poisonous.
They may also contribute to kidney stone formation.
The symptoms can range from a runny nose, rashes or swelling, to life-threatening symptoms like breathing problems.
There are two types of almonds (46):
- Sweet almonds are edible and widely grown for human consumption.
- Bitter, or wild, almonds are inedible. They contain a substance called amygdalin, which is toxic. Eating even a few bitter almonds can be fatal.
Almonds that are improperly stored may also develop mold that produces aflatoxin, a dangerous chemical (47).
Kidney stones can develop from concentrated minerals in the urine, and 75% of them are mainly made of calcium oxalate (48).
People that consume foods rich in phytic acid with every meal may become deficient in essential minerals.
Bottom Line: Almonds may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, and bitter almonds are poisonous. They may also contribute to kidney stone formation, and too much phytic acid may cause mineral deficiencies.
Almonds are an incredibly healthy food.
They are nutrient-dense and loaded with healthy fats, fiber and powerful antioxidants.
Almonds may help prevent heart disease and fight diabetes. They may also help you lose weight and belly fat.
Eating a handful of almonds every day can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
They may literally be the perfect snack.