Many of us enjoy a handful of almonds as a quick snack, but are almonds good for you? People throughout the ages have believed this to be the case and began cultivating them more than 4000 years ago. Even though almonds are widely considered to be the healthiest nut available, did you know that they are not actually nuts at all? Almonds are part of the drupe family, which includes fleshy fruits that have a hard inner shell with a seed locked inside. Cherries and peaches are other common examples of drupes. Still, we won’t hold that against it when snack time comes. So, why are almonds good for you?
Nutrition and Calories in Almonds
The nutritional benefits of almonds alone warrant adding a handful or two to your daily diet. Below you will find a nutritional breakdown for one ounce of almonds.
Total Fat 14g
Saturated Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrates 6g
Vitamin E 37%
You may notice from our chart here that almonds are fairly high in fats, in particular monounsaturated fats. During the 1980s and 1990s people developed a severe fat phobia, believing that the root of all obesity was dietary fat. This is far from the truth, and part of the reason why obesity rates have skyrocketed since then. Just remember that fat is not only a necessary part of the diet, but many fats, in particular those found in almonds, are actually good for you!
Almond Health Benefits
The health benefits of almonds have been studied fairly extensively throughout the years, and anecdotally for the thousands of years that they have been a staple of the human diet. Here are just a few of the many ways that almonds may benefit your health.
Studies have found that people who regularly consume almonds show an increase in HDL cholesterol levels, also known as the good cholesterol, while at the same time displaying a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, or the bad cholesterol. This is an important consideration for people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. This is thought to be due to the healthy fats, high fiber, and lack of starch found in almonds.
Studies have found that subjects with type 2 diabetes who consumed almonds along with their meals experienced a smaller rise in blood sugar and insulin levels than subjects who just had their meal. This is generally attributed to the high levels of fiber in combination with protein and healthy fat. The high levels of antioxidants contained in almonds also help to clean up the free radicals produced by the body, and are thought to help ward off further damage.
There are a few things about almonds that makes them the ideal snack for people who want to lose weight. First, they are packed with fiber, and high-fiber foods expand in the stomach, physically filling us up and making us less hungry. Second, the monounsaturated fats in almonds send satiety signals to the brain, telling it that you have had enough to eat and don’t need to feel hungry. Finally, the blood sugar regulation we spoke of in relation to diabetes helps to prevent blood sugar crashes and spikes in appetite, which can lead to overeating.
Can You Eat Too Many Almonds?
Despite the wide and varied benefits of eating almonds, it is important to remember that any food, no matter how healthy it may be, still needs to be consumed in moderation. Despite all the good nutrition packed away in almonds, all those good fats, proteins, and fiber are still relatively high in calories.
Most organizations agree that you should eat about 1.5 ounces, or about 30 almonds per day in order to get the maximum health benefits. Just keep in mind that this equals about 240 calories and almond calories are still calories, so adjust your diet accordingly if you are on any sort of calorie-restricted diet.
So, what are almonds good for when it comes to a healthy diet? They are absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins E and B2, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Their very high protein content helps to control appetite and stabilize blood sugar levels. They are full of monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart and overall cardiovascular system. Best of all, their convenient size makes them perfect for healthy snacking. Just don’t eat them all at once. All that goodness also comes with a lot of calories. To sum up: are almonds good for you? Very much so.