Almonds are an excellent food to eat every day because they are full of protein, vitamins, and fiber. Eating them regularly is thought to reduce your risk of health problems like cancer, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
And though they also have a fair amount of fat, it is mostly the healthy monounsaturated kind that actually protects your heart. Still, almonds contain quite a few calories, so it’s best to eat them in moderation.
It may sound incredible that just four daily almonds could do anything at all for your health, but it’s true! In one ounce of almonds you’ll get 3.5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 9 grams of monounsaturated fat. Almonds also deliver a good amount of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. Present in smaller yet significant amounts is copper, calcium, riboflavin, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
So what can all that goodness do for your body? You’ll be surprised by these 7 important benefits that occur if you eat at least 4 almonds every day.
1. Healthier Cholesterol Levels
Almonds are great for reducing bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol. That’s important because high cholesterol puts you at risk for all sorts of health complications, including heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
When you substitute almonds for an unhealthy snack like chips or candy, you can reduce your bad cholesterol by up to 10%. The benefit is linked to the vitamin E content within the nutmeat, and the flavonoids contained in the papery skin of the almond. Together, they prevent the development of artery-clogging plaque.
2. Stronger, Shinier Hair
Almonds are uniquely positioned to give you virtually all the vitamins and minerals necessary to improve the condition of your hair. To stimulate growth, almonds have magnesium and zinc. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that reduce oxidative stress and make hair stronger. And finally, the vitamin B thickens strands and imparts a natural shine.
Incidentally, applying almond oil to your scalp can prevent dandruff and soften and nourish hair strands directly. Almond oil has been used as a beauty product for both hair and skin since the ancient Egyptians held almonds as one of the ultimate luxury products.
3. Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
There are many ingredients in almonds that make them a heart smart snack. The monounsaturated fats can help control high cholesterol, for one. But the fiber, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols all benefit heart health as well.
Almonds are also a great source of l-arginine, which has been shown to make the artery walls more flexible and thus less likely to develop blood clots that can block blood flow and cause cardiac arrest. To get all of these heart health benefits, be sure to eat the shell as well.
4. Fewer Wrinkles
We all want to prevent premature aging, and almonds can help because of their manganese and vitamin E content. Manganese is a protein that helps to produce collagen.
Collagen is the connective tissue within skin that keeps it tight and smooth. Vitamin E is able to protect against skin damage by absorbing UV radiation from the sun, thereby reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. It also reduces skin inflammation and eliminates redness.
5. Better Digestion
Almond shells are a great source of prebiotics, which support the growth and multiplication of the good bacteria in our guts. Gut bacteria is responsible for metabolizing nutrients from food and medications. It also protects against intestinal infections and makes vitamin K, important for producing blood-clotting proteins.
Prebiotics feed this important gut bacteria, but beyond that, recent studies indicate that regular consumption of prebiotic foods can improve immune system function and lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Easier Weight Loss
Though almonds contain a lot of fat and calories, they can actually help you shed pounds. Studies show that eating almonds can contribute to a feeling of satiety between meals, which makes it easier to resist unhealthy food cravings. People who eat almonds daily tend to consume fewer carbohydrates over the course of each day.
Participants in a study of almonds and diet reduced their weight and body mass index (BMI) by an average of 18%, compared to only 11% in the group that dieted without almonds. Waist circumference also decreased by 14% in the almond group, but only 9% in the non-almond dieters.
7. Improved Brain Activity
Studies show that getting plenty of vitamin E in your diet can help prevent aging-related cognitive decline, preserve memory, and boost your daily alertness. The magnesium in almonds strengthens the nerves in the brain.
And the protein helps to repair brain cells, thereby improving cognitive function. Keeping your brain healthy throughout life helps to ward of Alzheimer’s disease, and eating almonds can be a big part of that.
We have suggested 4 almonds as a baseline amount to consume daily, but you don’t necessarily have to stop at that if you really enjoy them.
The recommended daily limit is one ounce, or about 23 nuts. If you eat the full ounce, you’ll get about 163 calories and 14 grams of fat. That’s okay as long as you account for the calories in the rest of your daily meals. Remember that it is not just whole almonds but also products like almond flour and almond milk that count.