Almonds: Health Benefits and How-To
Without a doubt, the almond is a tree nut so delicious and nutritious that everyone may go nuts about it. Even the ancient Romans knew almonds were special – they used to shower newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. These oval nuts are wonderfully crunchy and buttery in taste. Found easily in grocery stores, they can be varieties ranging from their natural form to blanched and slivered. While we normally consider almonds to be nuts, they are technically the seeds of the almond tree fruit. Almonds are produced worldwide. In the United States, almonds are predominantly produced in California.
Nutrition Tidbits for Almond
- 1 oz. of almond (~ 23 pieces) contains:
- Calories: 160 kcal
- Fat: 14 g
- Carbohydrates: 6 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Glycemic Index (GI): Low
There is so much good in such a small nut that it is difficult to do almond’s health benefits justice in a small paragraph. Whole almonds (including skin) are a great source of Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a great plant-based protein that can double as a source of fiber. According to the vast body of research, consuming almonds regularly confers a number of health benefits, which include reducing the risk of heart disease and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Their Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. In fact, the ORAC value of almonds (4454 umol TE/100g) is almost twice as much as that of concord grape juice and 3½ times more than green tea. If that is not enough to encourage you to start munching on some almonds, a 2007 study examined the effect of almonds on weight management, and found that the fiber in almonds blocked some of the fat calories from being absorbed and therefore helped the participants maintain their weight.
Almonds can be purchased pre-packaged or from the bulk section. They come in their natural form (unflavored), or you can also find them in all kinds of flavors. Do watch out for the high sugar and/or sodium that comes with some of the flavored almonds. When buying almonds, it may be a better idea to buy those that are stored in sealed containers, as opposed to the bulk bins, as almonds can turn rancid when exposed to heat, air, and humidity. Choose almonds that are not shriveled-looking or limp. The smell should be mildly sweet and nutty, not bitter or off, which is a telltale sign that the almonds are rancid. Once you bring them home, store them in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Avoiding exposure to sunlight and keeping them cool will prolong their freshness. For even longer shelf life, almonds may also be refrigerated or frozen.
Ways to Include More Almond in Your Diet
- Add almonds to yogurt and breakfast cereal
- Add almonds to any salads
- Add chopped almonds to a bread crumb mixture to make your crispy oven-baked chicken or fish even more flavorful
- Snack on almonds any time for a fulfilling, nutritious pick-me-up
Alumni: University of British Columbia – Owennie is a registered dietitian with a soft spot for chocolate and coffee. She is a believer in balance and moderation, and is committed to keeping healthy eating enjoyable and fun. Owennie received her dietetics training in Vancouver, and is a member of Dietitians of Canada and the College of Dietitians of British Columbia. She has experience in a wide variety of settings, such as clinical nutrition, long-term care and outpatient counseling. Owennie has also worked for a community nutrition hotline and participated regularly as a guest radio host, where she enjoyed sharing her passion and knowledge about food and nutrition with people.