Almonds are a type of tree nut and one of the most widely consumed and popular nut varieties in the world. Nuts are a divisive subject, and a lot of people think they’re unhealthy or fattening. Because of this, it’s useful to know your almond nutrition facts before either adding them to your diet or giving up on them forever!
In general, nuts are high in fat and calories, but they also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Of all the nuts, almonds are arguably one of the healthiest. Of course, like any food, if you eat too many almonds, you may gain weight, and overeating any food can lead to health problems.
That said, for most people, eating almonds should present no significant health risks and will actually do you good. Keep reading to learn all the important facts about almonds and almond-related food products.
Nutrition Facts of Almonds
Almonds are jam-packed with beneficial nutrients. A one-ounce/28 gram serving of plain almonds provides:
Health Benefits of Eating Almonds
Rather than being unhealthy or fattening, almonds offer a wide range of health benefits. Eating almonds regularly and in moderation can:
Reduce free radical damage – free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage at a genetic level. They are responsible for many illnesses and diseases, including cancer, aging, macular degeneration, and joint pain. The antioxidants in almonds can cancel out many of the harmful effects of free radicals, boosting many aspects of health.
Lower blood glucose – almonds are very low in carbohydrates and will not affect your blood glucose much. Low, stable blood glucose levels are good for every aspect of your health, not least weight control, your mood, and energy and concentration. Controlling your blood glucose can also help prevent and control type II diabetes. The primary nutrient in almonds that helps control blood glucose is magnesium.
Lower blood pressure – the same magnesium that helps control blood glucose is also good for lowering blood pressure. Magnesium cancels out the hydrophilic (water-attracting) effect of sodium to help reduce high blood pressure without the use of additional medication. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and strokes.
Lower cholesterol levels – high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, which is the most common cause of death in the Western World. Eating almonds can help reverse this ratio so that you have more “good” cholesterol than bad.
A small portion of almonds can help ward off hunger for many hours.
They’re low in carbs but high in fat, fiber, and protein, all of which are linked to prolonged satiety.
If you want a filling snack that prevents hunger for several hours, an ounce of almonds should do the trick.
Weight loss – almonds can help you lose weight in several ways. Firstly, with less hunger to deal with, you are less likely to give in and cheat on your diet. Also, eating almonds will increase your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories per day.
Finally, almonds contain several nutrients that are linked to effective fat burning. So, rather than being fattening, almonds could help you lose fat quicker and more easily.
Health Risks of Eating Almonds
Despite their obvious health benefits, eating too many almonds may be risky for some people, while others are allergic to them and should not eat almonds at all. The health risks of eating almonds include:
Allergies – almonds contain a substance called amandine. Amandine can trigger an autoimmune response in some people, leading to itchy mouth and lips, swollen throat and tongue, skin rashes and hives, shortening of breath, nausea, vomiting, and lightheadedness. In some cases, this allergy can become anaphylaxis, which is a very severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening if not treated quickly enough.
If you have any kind of nut allergy, you should avoid almonds and any products that may contain traces of almonds.
Vitamin E overdose – vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Unlike vitamins B and C, which are water-soluble and any excesses of which are easily expelled, vitamin E can build up to toxic levels.
If you eat a lot of foods that are high in vitamin E, adding almonds to your diet could tip you over the edge. The symptoms of vitamin E overdose include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, easy bruising, poor blood clotting, and hemorrhaging.
Weight gain – almonds can help you lose weight, but if you eat too many, you may gain weight instead.
One ounce of almonds, which is about 24 individual nuts, contains 160 calories.
While a one-ounce serving shouldn’t lead to weight gain, eating six ounces a day probably will.
Almonds are very easy to eat in large quantities.
Avoid this problem by always measuring your almonds and limiting yourself to just 1-2 ounces per day.
Kidney stones – because they are high in intestinal soluble oxalates, eating too many almonds could lead to renal failure and kidney stones. Like most almond-related issues, this problem is easy to avoid by limiting your intake to no more than a couple of ounces per day.
Cyanide toxicity – some varieties of almonds contain a naturally-occurring poison called hydrogen cyanide. However, it’s only bitter almonds and not the sweet type that has this toxin. Bitter almonds are not usually sold to the public.
The almonds sold for human consumption are of the sweet variety, and so they’re very safe. However, if you are out foraging for almonds, you could inadvertently eat the bitter variety. Eating 6-10 will make you very unwell, while 50 or more would cause death from cyanide poisoning.
Types of Almonds
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of almonds: sweet and bitter. Each type contains several different varieties, including Tuono, Bonita, Casa Nova, Parada, and Veradale. Sweet almonds are very healthy and, apart from a few minor and mostly avoidable health risks, are perfectly safe to eat.
Soaking sweet almonds makes them easier to digest and may even increase the availability of certain nutrients. Some people prefer the taste and softer texture of soaked almonds too. Sweet almonds are sometimes sold flavored, sweetened, salted, covered in chocolate, candy, or yogurt, and dry roasted.
However, unless you do these things yourself, commercially processed almonds usually contain added artificial ingredients and sugar, making them less healthy. Bitter almonds should not be consumed raw.
They’re typically harvested for their oil or processed to make things like marzipan and almond flavoring for things like syrups and liqueurs. These processes remove the prussic acid, which, along with cyanide, means that raw bitter almonds can make you unwell.
Foods That Contain Almonds
The best way to eat almonds, like many foods, is in their most natural state. That way, you can enjoy all of their benefits with nothing added or taken away. That said, numerous foods contain almonds or that are made from almonds, including:
- Almond brittle
- Almond butter
- Almond cookies
- Almond flour
- Almond Joy confectionary bars
- Almond milk
- Almond oil
- Almond paste
- Amaretto (Italian almond liquor)
- Candied almonds
- Coated almonds – covered in chocolate or yogurt
- Ground almonds (almond meal)
- Marzipan (almond paste with added sugar)
Typically, almonds are used/eaten:
Food Safety and Storage
Almonds should not be consumed if they are moldy or if they are starting to sprout. Moldy and sprouted almonds can cause food poisoning because they are contaminated by salmonella and other harmful bacteria.
To avoid these problems, almonds should always be stored in a cool, dry place, and preferably in an airtight container. Almonds can also be refrigerated or frozen, which will inhibit bacterial growth. That said, almonds, when stored properly, have a long shelf life and can last up to two years.
However, almonds that smell or taste rancid, show mold, or that are starting to sprout should be thrown away.
Almonds are very healthy snack food. High in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, as well as vital nutrients, they’re filling and good for you. A one-ounce serving should satiate your hunger for several hours without spiking your blood glucose or overloading you with calories.
However, nuts ARE calorie dense too, and eating too many could lead to weight gain. One ounce of almonds provides around 160 calories, which isn’t too bad. But, if a one-ounce serving becomes six ounces, weight gain is almost inevitable.
Because of this, you should practice good food portion control, weighing or counting out your almonds in advance, rather than eating them mindlessly. For the most part, almonds are a very healthy food, especially when they are unprocessed and not covered in chocolate! Almond butter is very healthy and an excellent alternative to peanut butter.
However, some people are allergic to almonds, and you should only eat the sweet variety, always avoiding moldy or sprouted almonds, which can cause food poisoning. Providing that you aren’t allergic to almonds, they are an excellent source of nutrients that deserve to be part of your diet, albeit in moderation.
Here are some other nutritional facts of foods you may be interested in;