15 Health Benefits of Almonds (According to Science)
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Almonds have an amazing profile of antioxidant and nutritional benefits, making them a great candidate for fighting disease. They can improve brain function, hinder the onset of cancer, and much, much more.
Whether you are a health and fitness enthusiast or are interested in making healthier food choices, almonds is definitely one food you should enjoy on a regular basis. Pound for pound, fresh nuts might seem expensive - not when you consider the many health benefits. Here, I’m sharing with you 15 of the abundance reasons:
1. Almonds can benefit your intestinal health
Regular consumption of almonds can benefit the production of helpful bacteria in the intestines.
Stool samples were collected from study groups after consuming almonds regularly for a period of time. There were notable increases in Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp.
These changes were noted with daily doses of as low as 56 grams of almonds - or ten grams of almond skins. The bacteria in question are responsible for a number of health factors. Promoting their growth can help prevent dangerous intestinal diseases, and promote the development of healthy tissues and metabolism.
2. Almonds can lower LDL cholesterol, limiting heart disease
Despite having a relatively high-fat content, almonds are known to eliminate cholesterol from the body. The fat content of almonds is largely monounsaturated - the ‘good’ type of fat that helps lower the risk of heart disease.
When substituting almonds in a high-carb diet, researchers found that the risk of heart disease was decreased by up to 30 percent. The benefits stack when almonds are included with other healthy foods, as well. If they’re added to a diet plan that includes foods from all groups, the decrease in cholesterol and heart disease can be increased.
Almonds are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that’s responsible for opening up veins and arteries, allowing for more efficient blood flow. This helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol and further reduces the risk of coronary disease.
Magnesium - another mineral that almonds are full of - is also responsible for maintaining a proper blood flow. The content of these two minerals, along with almonds having a high antioxidant content, ensures that they can effectively fight off cholesterol and heart disease. They’re also useful in fighting off recurring or chronic diseases.
3. Almonds are powerful fighters against diabetes
Did you know that Almonds are shown to decrease spikes in blood sugar? Blood sugar spikes are linked to damaging cholesterol, which leads to the creation of free radicals.
A free radical is an atom missing an electron in its outer shell. To compensate, it will steal an electron from its neighbor atom, creating another free radical. This creates a destructive chain that can result in cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
A study done on fifteen participants involved feeding them five meals and monitoring blood sugar before and after. The statistics taken after the meals containing almonds showed a moderate blood pressure and an increase in antioxidants. The statistics taken after subjects consumed meals with bread (high in carbohydrates) showed a decrease in antioxidant density.
4. Almonds can help keep your skin young and healthy
Almonds contain a range of antioxidants and nutrients that can be useful in combating aging skin. These benefits are most obvious when almonds are extracted and used as an oil.
Of particular note, almonds are very high in vitamin E. There are other skin-benefiting antioxidants in almonds, but vitamin E is very good for the skin. It fights off free radicals that can affect that dermis, leading to cancer or prematurely aging skin. Vitamin e also acts as an anti-inflammatory which can prevent inflammation-related skin issues.
5. Almonds help regulate blood sugar in healthy individuals
Studies have shown that almonds are amazing at maintaining a healthy glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure that can show a person’s blood sugar level.
During a study in which subjects were given white bread (filled with empty carbohydrates - high on the glycemic index)
The effects seem to start with consumption of two or more ounces of almonds. Eating one ounce of almonds along with the bread showed no decrease in the glycemic index. However, eating two or more showed decreases in the G.I. directly proportional to a number of almonds consumed.
6. Almonds are a great cognitive supporter
Almonds are one of the best brain foods you can buy! They contain both L-Carnitine and riboflavin - two nutrients that are very important in maintaining brain health. This help reduce inflammation that can lead to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Almonds stimulate the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for helping your neurons “fire,” or communicate, effectively. A deficiency in acetylcholine can lead to things like “brain fog,” in which thinking becomes unclear or confused. It can also lead to headaches and eventually, cognitive decline that can turn into disease.
Acetylcholine is also hugely responsible for an individual’s memory. When studied after consuming almonds for an extended period, rats were shown to have greater memory recall. When neurons fire faster, it’s easier for them to create or recall ideas and memories - leading to better memory retention.
7. Almonds can help you lose weight!
Research suggests that overweight folk who supplement their diets with almonds will lose weight more effectively. With a low-calorie diet, the almond’s intense array of nutrients and monounsaturated fats help a person shed unnecessary weight.
The study group found that people using almonds in their weight loss program consumed more fat, but 25% of that fat was monounsaturated. This is the fat that helps clear the cardiovascular system of cholesterol. The other group, eating a carbohydrate rich diet, consumed less fat - but only 5% of it was monounsaturated.
Both diets had the same amount of calories. After the study period was over, the group that had consumed almonds instead of carbs showed significantly more weight loss than the other group. Their blood pressure was also reduced, whereas the control group saw no difference in blood pressure.
8. Almonds not only help you lose weight - they can prevent weight gain!
Despite nuts being associated with weight gain, recent studies show the opposite. The high amount of monounsaturated fats in almonds can help you lose weight by regulating cholesterol and blood sugar.
Not only that, but a study shows that simply including almonds in your diet can inspire people to be healthier. A study group was told to add almonds into their diet. They were given no other instructions. At the end of the study, they have evaluated again. A significant number of test subjects had made their own positive changes to their diet!
The levels of certain key nutrients and vitamins were measured to be much higher than they would be simply from supplementing almonds.
9. Almonds help with energy production
Three nutrients in almonds are of particular interest in those interested in being efficient at producing energy. These nutrients are manganese, copper, and riboflavin. Copper and manganese help in the production of superoxide dismutase. This chemical helps fight off free radicals that can form in the mitochondria - the powerhouse of the cell!
Ensuring the mitochondrial stays healthy is vitally important for maintaining well-functioning cells. Without mitochondria, your cells won’t produce energy and your body will begin to lose its ability.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2,) has an interesting function. It attaches to certain proteins that allow oxygen-based energy to be produced in the body. This oxygen-based energy production occurs in areas like the lung and hearts. It can be counter-effective if there is a lack of riboflavin, leading to oxidation and the forming of free radicals. Riboflavin ensures that there’s a proper flow of oxygen and that it can be converted effectively to energy.
10. Almonds can help prevent gallstones
Looking at data compiled over the last 20 years, it’s been shown that people who eat almonds regularly have a 25 percent lower chance of developing gallstones. Certain nutrients in the almonds bind to bile acids in the gut, helping to maintain a healthy amount.
Gallstones are hardened deposits of fluid. They form in your gallbladder, which is just beneath your liver. They’re formed when there is an excess of bile. Bile is usually released into the small intestine, but when there is an excessive amount, it can get stuck in the gallbladder and harden. Gallstones are extremely painful to pass.
The studies show that nuts are efficient in doses as low as an ounce a week. That’s like eating two pieces of toast with a spoonful of nut butter on each!
11. Almonds are a good source of protein
Almonds are a great source of quality protein. A quarter cup of almonds provides you with five grams of protein, which is about ten percent of the recommended daily allowance. Since almonds are low-carb and contain only quality, healthy fats, this is a great amount of protein.
Protein is the building block for muscles and can help a person maintain strength and energy. With inadequate protein intake, people will grow weak and their muscles will lose strength and quality.
12. Almonds have an impressive array of vitamins and nutrients
In a quarter cup of almonds, you will get a varied amount of nutrients. The World’s Healthiest Foods rates almonds to be very good sources of biotin (49 percent of your daily value,) vitamin E (40 percent of your daily value,) manganese (27 percent of your daily value,) and copper (26 percent of your daily value. Almonds actually have the highest amount of biotin, pound for pound, than any other raw food. The contender for second place is the sweet potato, which contains only 29% of your daily value of biotin.
World’s Healthiest Foods also considers almonds to be a good source of vitamin B2, phosphorous, magnesium, molybdenum, and dietary fiber.
Vitamin E is very useful in fighting inflammation. It helps maintain healthy skin structure, elasticity, and flexibility.
Manganese is helpful in the maintenance of bones and teeth, much like the similar-sounding nutrient magnesium. Most diets have plenty of manganese in them, but you don’t need to worry about overdosing - excessive magnesium intake won’t cause you any damage unless it’s very extreme.
Biotin is a B vitamin that’s crucial for the body to properly metabolize food.
Copper is important in a lot of different ways. It helps you maintain strong tissues, maintains your blood volume, and helps your mitochondria produce energy. Most diets are deficient in copper.
13. Almonds increase the absorption of other nutrients
Certain nutrients and vitamins - such as vitamin A and D - are fat soluble. This means the body needs an adequate supply of fat to absorb them. Good fat - don’t go jumping down to McDonald's to get a burger to increase your nutrient absorption because the negatives will quickly outweigh the bads.
Fortunately, almonds are chock full of polyunsaturated fats. These are the most effective fats for helping vitamins which are not soluble in water. Additionally, almonds contain some antioxidants and nutrients that can regulate bile production (too much bile can tax your system of nutrients) and promote intestinal health.
14. Almonds can protect against osteoporosis
Digested almonds leave behind a kind of residue, known as ash. It’s an alkaline substance, which helps maintain the pH level of our blood. Our blood, at its most healthy, keeps an alkaline pH of around 7.4 Sometimes the pH of the blood is offset by eating foods that are too acidic. This is why alkaline foods are necessary for the human diet.
When the blood becomes too acidic, the blood steals calcium from our bones. Calcium helps return the balance of the blood to its optimal pH of 7.4 - at the expense of making your bones more brittle and susceptible to further disease.
Eating almonds can prevent this by leaving its alkaline ash behind in the body. Additionally, the high magnesium and phosphorous content help strengthen any bones that may already be damaged by osteoporosis.
15. Almonds help maintain bone and dental health
Phosphorus and magnesium - two nutrients that almonds are high in - are essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Almonds also help the body absorb other nutrients, so calcium from other dietary sources will be absorbed more effectively.
Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium together in sufficient amounts will ensure that your bones and teeth stay strong and healthy long into your life. You will be less likely to develop cavities, broken bones, or teeth yellowing.
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