Do the benefits of almonds make it the healthiest nut ever?
Almonds may have more carbs than other keto nuts like macadamias or pecans, but they also pack more fiber, protein, and health benefits.
Nutrient-dense, delicious, and portable, science says almonds can help with weight loss, prevent weight gain, improve heart health, balance blood sugar levels, boost brain power, and so much more.
Almonds are welcome on almost every healthy diet — from keto to vegan and paleo — as long as you’re not allergic to nuts, of course.
Prized throughout history and now a billion-dollar industry in the United States alone, there must be a few good reasons people can’t get enough almonds.
Why Almonds Are Healthy
Despite the current almond craze, almonds have been popular for millennia.
Almond trees are native to North Africa, India, and the Middle East and thrive in warm, dry weather. They were popularized in the Mediterranean along trade routes before being introduced to the U.S.
Now the state of California produces nearly 80% of all almonds in the world[*].
Almonds are a tree nut, so if you’re allergic to those, you should definitely stay away from them.
But everyone else should take advantage of what this superfood has to offer.
Why Are Almonds Healthy?
Almonds are rich in healthy fatty acids, low in carbs, and packed with protein.
The macros for 1 oz of almonds looks like this[*]:
- Calories: 164
- Fat: 14g
- 9g of monounsaturated
- 3.5g of polyunsaturated
- 1g saturated fat
- Protein: 6g
- Fiber: 3.5g
- Net carbs: 3g
While they may be higher in carbs than macadamias, pecans, and walnuts (by a gram or two), almonds also deliver more fiber and almost three times the protein of those other nuts.
Micronutrients are another major reason almonds should be part of your healthy diet.
In that same 1 oz. serving of almonds, you’ll find vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals including[*]:
- Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): 37% of your recommended daily intake value (RDI)
- Manganese: 32% of your RDI
- Magnesium: 19% of your RDI
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 17% of your RDI
- Phosphorous: 14% of your RDI
- Copper: 14% of your RDI
- Calcium: 7% of your RDI
21 Health Benefits of Almonds
With every (modest) handful of almonds, your body will soak up all the nutritional wins these super nuts have to offer.
#1. Lower Inflammation
The antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats in almonds do wonders for inflammation in your body.
Chronic inflammation happens when your body thinks it’s under a constant state of attack. This can be triggered by many things, but a poor diet is one of the biggest culprits.
Higher inflammation means your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, leaky gut syndrome, and even mental illness all increase.
Since the main fat in almonds comes from oleic acid, which is the same type of fatty acid you’ll find in inflammation-lowering olive oil, almonds make a great anti-inflammatory food[*].
They reduce oxidative stress in your body and protect it from further damage to help lower inflammation systemwide[*].
#2. Excellent Dietary Source of Vitamin E
Vitamin E may not be on your radar, but this fat-soluble vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants protect your cells from free radical damage caused by things like a poor diet, smoking, and environmental pollutants.
The more oxidative damage your cells have to battle, the greater your risk for developing chronic diseases and cancer.
#3. Protection From Cognitive Decline and Neurological Disorders
Studies show supplementing with vitamin E may prevent cognitive decline or slow it down if it’s already occurring[*].
Additionally, a serving of almonds also contains 17% of your daily riboflavin, which boasts neuroprotective benefits for a wide range of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s[*].
#4. Reduced Cancer Risk
Research shows people who eat higher quantities of almonds (and other nuts like walnuts) reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to three times more than those who seldom snack on them[*].
Higher vitamin E intake has been associated with lower risks of developing colon cancer, especially if you’re under 65[*].
Note: You’ll find most of these awesome antioxidants in the brown outer layer of almond skin. You won’t get these same benefits with blanched or raw almonds with their skins already removed[*].
#5. Better Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol, you may be avoiding foods with high fat content like almonds, but research shows this is a bad move.
Eating almonds regularly helps your body increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol levels) while lowering low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol levels)[*].
This is important because having more LDL cholesterol may put you at a greater risk for heart disease while having higher HDL decreases that risk.
Participants in one trial learned eating 1.5 oz. of almonds each day lowered their cholesterol an average of 5.3 mg/dL — while still maintaining “good” HDL cholesterol levels[*].
In another study, researchers learned that when 20% of daily calories came from almonds, LDL cholesterol lowered by a “clinically significant” average of 12.4 mg/dL after 16 weeks[*].
That’s a major drop in a short time.
In a different trial, scientists wanted to see whether fatty almonds or a carb-filled whole wheat muffin were better for lowering cholesterol. They split up 27 people with high cholesterol and gave them different snacks to eat for a month each.
Each snack counted for 20% of their daily calories and consisted of either a full dose of whole almonds, a low-saturated fat whole-wheat muffin, or half a dose of almonds plus half a muffin.
Eating the full-dose almonds showed the greatest reduction in total cholesterol numbers, but even the half-dose improved LDL cholesterol levels.
However, the full-dose almonds alone lowered oxidized cholesterol levels by 14%[*].
This is excellent news since getting your cholesterol to healthy levels lowers your cardiovascular risks and may even lower your blood pressure.
#6. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the main reasons people have strokes and heart attacks.
Almonds can be a lifesaver here since men between the ages of 20 and 70 were able to improve blood flow in their arteries and significantly lower their systolic blood pressure by simply eating 50g almonds per day for just four weeks[*].
This may be because almonds contain almost 20% of your RDI of magnesium[*].
In one study, researchers discovered that people with high blood pressure were also deficient in magnesium, and magnesium deficiencies can lead to high blood pressure[*].
When they started supplementing with magnesium, participants significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure[*].
#7. Heart Disease Prevention
Evidence shows that people consuming the highest levels of vitamin E are also 30-40% less likely to have heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide[*].
Since almonds are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E, you may be able to join the healthy heart club by eating a serving every day.
One study showed that eating almonds with meals lowered oxidative protein damage in participant’s bodies, which could help reduce heart disease risk[*].
When researchers swapped the high-carb snacks of 48 participants with a serving of almonds, they not only lowered their LDL cholesterol, they lost visceral fat around their tummies[*].
This isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade; visceral fat, or the kind sitting around your midsection, may put you at a greater risk of having a heart attack[*].
Shrinking this type of belly fat is priority number one because the more you have, the greater your chances of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
#8. Increased Insulin Sensitivity
Did you know magnesium also plays a role in blood sugar control?
So maybe it isn’t surprising that many people with type 2 diabetes are also deficient in magnesium[*].
Again, a serving of almonds gives you close to 20% of your magnesium intake for the day so they may be an ideal snack for those trying to increase insulin sensitivity[*].
This is just one of the benefits of almonds for those struggling with blood sugar problems.
#9. Helps People With Type 2 Diabetes
Experts have seen almonds prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. So you may be able to minimize how much your blood sugar levels rise by including them in yours[*].
In one study, 65 overweight and obese adults were either given a formula-based low-carb diet with the addition of 84g/day of almonds or a diet including the same amount of calories and protein but in the form of complex carbohydrates.
Those eating almonds lost weight, improved biomarkers of metabolic syndrome (such as BMI and waist circumference), and lowered their blood pressure, which is super impressive on its own.
But even better is 96% of those with type 2 diabetes lowered their diabetes medications just by adding almonds to their diet[*].
Almonds may be good for blood sugar regulation thanks to their healthy fiber content.
#10. More Fiber, Less Digestive Upset
If you’re experiencing constipation or diarrhea on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you likely need to add more fiber to your menu — and more water.
Extra insoluble and soluble fiber will prevent constipation and diarrhea and ensure smooth digestion and elimination[*].
Since almonds have 3g of fiber per serving, they can help bulk up your stools and move the process along[*].
The fiber in almonds will also feed the healthy bacteria in your gut to help you achieve better gut flora balance.
#11. Healthy Gut Balance
One study showed eating almonds may increase the populations of bifidobacteria and Eubacterium rectale bacteria while also upping butyrate concentrations[*].
Another study showed that women who ate 56g of almonds each day for eight weeks experienced significant increases in healthy bacteria populations of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus[*].
A healthy gut also goes miles for your overall immunity.
#12. Immunity Booster
Did you know 70% of your body’s immune system lives in your gut[*]?
That’s why your diet is so crucial; if you eat food which creates an imbalance of unhealthy bacteria, your body will have a harder time fighting off colds and viruses when you encounter them.
Good thing studies show almonds and almond oil are anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting[*].
Researchers in one experiment even connected natural almond skins with a greater line of antiviral defense. In infected cells, almond skins stopped a virus from multiplying and triggered a stronger immune system response[*].
#13. Muscle-Building and Fat-Burning
Lean muscle mass is what makes you look toned and svelte. But muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does on your body.
The secret to torching fat is adding more muscle mass, which you can do by working out and feeding your muscles protein.
Unlike low-carb nuts like macadamias, almonds have a whopping 6g of protein in every 1 oz. serving, which is about the same amount you’ll find in one egg or a 1 oz. serving of cheese.
#14. Appetite Suppression
If you’re feeling satiated, you won’t feel as ravenous and unintentionally eat more than your daily macros allow. You may also eat fewer calories at your next meal.
After all, just a 1.5 oz. serving of almonds per day for four weeks helped 137 participants in one study[*]:
- Lower their blood sugar after snack and mealtime
- Eat fewer calories
- Become less hungry during the day and at meals
Eating fewer calories will help your body create a calorie deficit to then spur weight loss.
#15. Weight Loss Aid
Despite demographic differences and lifestyle and dietary factors, people eating tree nuts like almonds usually have lower rates of obesity[*].
People who regularly eat almonds at least twice a week also find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, as opposed to those who rarely or never eat almonds and are in an unhealthy range[*].
That may be why evidence suggests nuts may be able to boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories[*].
In a study mentioned earlier with 65 overweight and obese adults, a low-calorie diet with almonds, in contrast to a diet with complex carbohydrates, helped participants achieve[*]:
- 62% greater reduction in weight/BMI
- 50% greater decrease in waist circumference
- 56% higher reduction in fat mass
- Lower systolic blood pressure
- Higher ketone levels
Researchers from another experiment split up the diets of 108 overweight and obese women into one with almonds and one without nuts. Women consuming almonds showed significant decreases in their[*]:
- Waist circumference
- Waist to hip circumference ratio
Eating almonds also lowered the women’s total cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, and diastolic blood pressure too.
So almonds are your hero when it comes to reaching your goal weight. Just make sure you stick to the serving size so you don’t overdo it.
#16. Helps Banish Brain Fog
Switch to a ketogenic diet and you’ll have more energy throughout the day thanks to ketone bodies.
Ketones are your body’s way of metabolizing fat for energy instead of glucose when you don’t give it many carbs or sugar.
Since almonds have more fat (14g) than protein (6g) or net carbs (3g), when you’re in ketosis, almonds are a quick way to fuel up with an energy-dense snack[*].
Almonds have also been shown to banish brain fog when afternoon slumps steal your energy, usually right after lunch.
Researchers randomly assigned 86 overweight and obese adults to either an almond-enriched high-fat lunch or a high-carbohydrate lunch over the course of 12 weeks to see how their diet affected their memory.
After lunch, those eating almonds scored 57% better on tests measuring memory retention and alertness than those on the high-carb lunch[*].
That means adding a serving of almonds to your salad, snacking on them post-lunch, or using a bit of almond butter in your keto dessert may go a long way for your afternoon productivity.
#17. Maintains Healthy Electrolyte Balance
As such, electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium must always be in check.
Since almonds contain magnesium and potassium, you’ll be one step closer to reaching your daily minimums[*]. And if you opt for roasted almonds with salt, you’ll even add a bit of sodium in one fell swoop.
#18. Strengthens Teeth and Bones
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain bone tissue. If you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, your body will start leaching calcium out of your bones, making them brittle and prone to breaking[*].
Additionally, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing calcium as you age, so you’ll need to add even more to your diet to keep your bones (and teeth) strong[*].
Eating almonds has been associated with higher bone mineral density, or stronger bones[*].
This may be because almonds contain trace minerals like calcium and phosphorous.
While you may know calcium helps build strong bones and teeth — and even helps fight osteoporosis — you may not know phosphorus does the same[*].
A handful of almonds may be able to help lower your risk of fractures and prevent tooth decay and cavities as well.
You’ll score even more calcium if you pair your almonds with a high-fat cheese. This extra calcium is super important for women, especially those who are menopausal[*].
But almonds also score points with men too.
#19. Potential Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Treatment
ED becomes more common as men get older due to hormonal changes, side effects of medications, increased stress, and high blood pressure/high cholesterol[*].
Since high blood pressure and high cholesterol both narrow blood vessels in the penis, tackling these issues becomes a priority if you have ED. And as you’ve already seen, almonds can help with both.
Almonds also help women balance their sex hormones.
#20. PCOS Treatment
If you’ve been using a ketogenic diet to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), keto nuts like almonds may be the best snack you can give your body.
Researchers randomly gave 31 women with PCOS a snack containing 31g of either walnuts or almonds each day for six weeks. They learned walnuts increased sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and almonds lowered free androgens to help restore better hormone balance[*].
PCOS patients typically have lower SHBG and higher free androgens so this is big news.
Then there’s the myo-inositol from all the B vitamins in almonds.
- Weight gain
- Trouble losing weight
- Insulin resistance
- Insulin sensitivity
- Irregular menstrual cycles
If you have PCOS, you may also be suffering from dry, thinning hair and problematic skin.
#21. Better Hair, Skin, and Nails
All the vitamin E antioxidants in almond skins may be able to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV damage and shield you from skin cancer[*].
You can even use almond oil to add moisture to dry skin if you obsessively wash your hands or have eczema[*].
Plus, a serving of almonds contains 49% of your daily dose of biotin, which is the star of many hair and nail growth supplements[*].
While many women say extra biotin helps their hair and nails grow stronger, longer, and faster, there aren’t many scientific studies to prove this dietary connection[*].
Even still, with all 21 health benefits of almonds this guide covers, there are plenty of reasons to eat a serving every day.
Add the Benefits of Almonds to Your Diet
Almonds are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet — as long as you buy the right kind.
First, stay away from any flavored varieties covered in sugar and added carbs.
Second, opt for raw almonds and either enjoy them in their natural state or roast them at home yourself.
It’s easy to roast your own almonds and much healthier, considering store-bought roasted nuts are normally roasted with unhealthy hydrogenated oils and preservatives.
With your homemade almonds ready to go, you can:
Add almonds to recipes in either their whole form or by using chopped or slivered almonds. They make a fantastic crunchy addition to both sweet and savory low-carb recipes like salads, keto desserts, soups, faux breading, and more.
Use more almond products like almond milk, almond milk yogurt, almond flour, and almond butter, all of which you can make yourself to control the carbs, sugar, and ingredient quality.
Eat almonds as a snack since they have everything you need: healthy fats to keep you going, protein to boost your muscles and satiate your cravings, and fiber to extend this party throughout your day.
Create your own keto snack mix with pre-portioned amounts of keto-friendly staples such as:
- Keto nuts (almonds, macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts)
- Shredded, unsweetened coconut
- Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips
Just remember not to go over the serving size or you may mess up your macros. One portion of almonds is equal to 1 oz. (~28g), a quarter cup or a handful of around 23 nuts.
If you don’t have time to measure and mix all that, grab a Perfect Keto Bar or a Perfect Keto Cookie, which is made with organic almond butter and almonds, so you can reap all of these health benefits without the hassle.
Formulated to minimize blood sugar spikes, you’ll find almonds listed as the first ingredient and cacao butter, coconut oil, and grass-fed collagen protein after that.
If you’re looking to lose weight, control your blood sugar, and reduce your risks of chronic diseases, consider eating a serving of almonds every day.