The Health Benefits of Almonds
Before we dive in to the health benefits of almonds, it’s important to know the history of this food. Of Middle Eastern origin, this teardrop shaped nut already has a huge reputation for being healthy. In fact, the United States has become one of the largest growers, providing 46% of the world’s supply. While we might think of it as a ‘nut’, it’s actually not a true nut. It’s a drupe, meaning it’s the stone (or seed) of a fleshy fruit. Like other stone fruits, the almond is the seed of a fruit grown on a tree. Despite not actually being a nut, it still looks and tastes like a nut. (Plus, it’s much easier to say nut than drupe.) And here’s another interesting fact: wild almonds can actually be toxic, so don’t go picking almonds off just any tree. (But luckily, wild trees aren’t exactly common these days.) Every grocery store and farmer’s market you visit will have safely cultivated almonds for your enjoyment. Raw, roasted, chopped, seasoned, and as butter — almonds come in many shapes and forms.
Many of the health benefits of almonds can be found in their nutritional value of almonds. According to the USDA food composition resource, just 1 cup of almonds has a well-rounded nutritional profile:
- Calories: 160
- Protein: 6g
- Fat: 14g
- Carbohydrates: 6g
- Dietary Fiber: 4g
- Sugar: 1g
- Calcium: 80mg
- Iron: 1.08mg
- Potassium: 200mg
As you can see, the almond is a balanced source of protein, fats, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. Here’s a breakdown of the most important nutritional features and health benefits of almonds:
Lipids and Cholesterol
Almonds have a boatload of good fats! Almonds have been shown to lower the ‘bad’ fat: LDL cholesterol. The good fat in almonds also helps keep you feeling full longer, which is great for staving off those peckish feelings between meal times. A study also found that almonds boost Vitamin E production, which acts as an antioxidant that fights cell damage. All-in-all this nut is great for a body’s overall health.
One small serving of almonds provides the same amount of calcium as ¼ cup of milk? Of all nuts out there, the almond is one of the highest in calcium content. This makes it a great option for bone and cardiovascular function, keeping you strong and fit. Without calcium, you may feel weaker, with joint pain, numbness/tingling, a slow heartbeat, or muscle cramps.
The almond is estimated to be a 0 on the glycemic index, essentially making it safe for those who must watch their sugar intake. The monounsaturated fatty acids control how fast glucose is released into the bloodstream, which means eating almonds won’t produce the dangerous sugar spike that puts diabetics at risk. Sugar levels will stay stable with almonds, and it’s also a food that can even help reverse pre-diabetes as part of a low-sugar diet.
Now you know why almonds are famous for their health-boosting qualities! That’s also why we pack it into our Pumpkin Seed Bars, like the classic, fan-favorite Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pumpkin Seed Bar!
More information about the health benefits of almonds: