All About Almonds - From History To Health

Almonds are said to be the healthiest and most eaten nut of them all! They (like many of our other tree nuts) are also the seed of the fruit upon the Almond tree (Prunus Dulcis). The Almond fruit is classified as a stone fruit, containing a stone-like seed (or pit) within, just like its relative, The peach, cherry, and apricot. The Almond tree is native to Iran, surrounding countries and Asia. These days Almonds, which are fully reliant on bees for pollination, are cultivated widely around the world. Our Almonds are grown right here in Australia (South Australia to be exact). The Almond tree was one of the first domesticated fruit trees and appears in places like Jordon from the early bronze age (3000-2000 BC) or possibly earlier. Interestingly the fruit of the almond tree was found in Egypt in the tomb of Tutankhamun!

Almonds (like cashews) are a wonderfully tasty and versatile nut. They can easily be transformed into - milk, butter, oil, flour as a gluten-free baking alternative, savory sauces, dips and of course for simply snacking on.

Almonds boast an impressive nutrient profile. Adding just one serving (a small handful) of almonds to your diet has been proven to be incredibly beneficial to your health and wellbeing and provides one-eighth of your daily protein needs. 

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), one serve (28g) of Almonds have a glycaemic load of zero, are very low in cholesterol and sodium and have a macronutrient ratio of 72% Fat, 13% protein and 15% carbohydrate. They are high in Riboflavin (B2), Manganese and Magnesium and are a great source of Vitamin E. (1) (2)

Calories: 161 kcal

Protein: 5.9 grams

Fat: 13.8 grams

·      Saturated Fat   1.0g

·      Monounsaturated Fat  8.6g

·      Polyunsaturated Fat     3.4g

·      Omega-3         1.7mg

·      Omega-6         3378mg

Carbs: 6.1 grams (over half of which is from Fibre)

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Manganese: 0.6mg (32% of the RDI)

Magnesium: 75mg (19%)

Phosphorus: 136mg (14%)

Copper: 0.3mg (14%)

Calcium: 73.9mg (7%)

Iron: 1.0mg (6%)

Potassium: 197mg (6%)

Zinc: 0.9mg (6%)

Selenium: 0.7mcg (1%)

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol): 7.3mg (37%)

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 0.3mg (17%)

Niacin (B3): 0.9mg (5%)

Thiamine (B1): 0.1mg (4%)

Folate (B9): 14.0mcg (3%)

Pantothenic acid (B5): 0.1mg (1%)

Choline: 14.6mg

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Energy-dense Almonds, by nature, positively influence the healing and prevention of chronic degenerative diseases (like Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease, Autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s and Cancer) through the presence of their beneficial fats, minerals, fiber, antioxidants (in particular Vitamin E). They aid in lowering LDL cholesterol, inflammation, oxidative stress. When inflammation and oxidative stress is high the body is more susceptible to illness and disease. (3) (4)

Healthy Brain

Almonds are considered to be one of the very best foods for your brain. Almonds are loaded with brain loving beneficial fats and antioxidants.Specifically almonds contain two specific nutrients – Riboflavin (B2) and L-Carnitine (an amino acid), positively affect the neurological activity and help prevent cognitive decline. Due to the good beneficial fats and antioxidant properties, almonds help with a reduction in inflammation-causing brain disorders like Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. (5)

Heart wellbeing

Almonds richness of monounsaturated fats and potassium are essential for good heart health. They are also high in the antioxidant Vitamin E, help to lower LDL cholesterol, positively affect blood pressure, and overall improved blood flow.

Sleep soundly

Almonds may also help boost the quality of your sleep; they contain Melatonin, which allows us to regulate our circadian rhythm and sleep efficiency. (6)

Almonds also contain good amounts of magnesium which has been shown to help support a good night’s sleep, especially for those with insomnia. Magnesium helps reduce inflammation, relax the muscles, and aids the reduction of the stress hormone – cortisol, known for interrupting sleep. (7) (8)

Regular sleep disruption is a significant source of stress, so quality sleep is foundational for optimal health.

Reduce cravings and weight

Because Almonds are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fiber, we feel fuller for longer when eating them, thus affecting overall calorie intake. Evidence shows that eating Almonds as part of a balanced diet can also help boost your metabolism a little. 

We feel more satisfied from eating almonds, thus aiding in weight loss in general. One study with 100 overweight women found that those who consumed almonds lost more weight than those on a nut-free diet. The study also showed improvements in waist circumference and other health markers. (9) (10)

Nutrient absorption and Gut health

Your body needs quality fats to properly absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Almonds also assist nutrient absorption and your gastrointestinal tract by reducing acid build-up and balancing the body's pH levels. A healthy pH is essential for the proper functioning of your digestion and immunity and the prevention of illness and disease. Additionally, the nutrients in Almonds may help regulate the digestive enzymes that are involved with nutrient absorption, cholesterol synthesis, and bile acid production.

In addition to the healthy fats and alkaline-forming molecules, almonds (mostly in the skin) contain prebiotics that help with digestion, detoxification, and healthy bacterial growth within your gut (gut flora). This is key to the proper absorption of the nutrients from the food we eat. (5)

Blood sugar regulation

Irregular blood sugar balance is one of the leading root causes of physiological stress, and many people experience its effects.  From simple energy fluctuations to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Almonds are a great snack to help keep your blood sugar in check because they are high in good fats, fiber and protein and lower in carbs. They also contain high amounts of Magnesium. Magnesium has hundreds of functions in the body and is one of the essential minerals; one of those functions is to help control blood sugar levels. (11)

The current RDI for magnesium is 310-420mg. Just two serves of Almonds provide almost half of that amount – 150mg of this essential mineral. (1)

Almonds Nutritional benefits include their ability to lower the other common Diabetic risks too: obesity, inflammation, and high oxidative stress. (5)

Vitamin E abundance

 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant, has many functions in the body, and is abundance in the skin layer of Almonds. Almonds also contain catechins, epicatechins, and flavonol antioxidants, which are all beneficial for your skin and anti-aging. They fight skin cancer and help to reverse oxidative damage due to your diet, UV damage, and pollution. Most importantly is Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties of protecting your cells from oxidative damage by building up a wall or shield around your cells. Oxidative damage to protein and fat molecules and DNA contributes to inflammation, aging, and disease. Did you know that oxidative stress predominantly comes from your bodies metabolic by-products? Oxidants are reactive molecules produced inside your body and in the environment. Almonds contain around 37% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin E per serve (28g or one small handful). (12) (13) (14)

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace the one on one support of a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

By Linda Ross ICNT
Integrative Nutritionist
Body, Mind and Eating Coach
Wholefood Chef 

  1. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3635?manu=&fgcd=&ds=
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22296169
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/
  5. https://draxe.com/almonds-nutrition/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409706/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23969766
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440346/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25097630
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds#section2
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2024929
  12. https://facty.com/food/nutrition/10-notable-health-benefits-of-almonds/3/
  13. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269468.php
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC47258/ 

MORE ABOUT LINDA:

Linda is currently teaching and consulting Globally. Specializing in identifying the underlying factors of chronic stress and related conditions, using clinical and holistic techniques. Blending ancient wisdom that is backed up by the modern science of nutrition to nourish the body and support people of all ages in understanding and transforming their health and wellbeing.

Links to connect with Linda:
www.nourishingways.co.nz
Instagram: @nourishing_ways

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