Almonds are an incredibly popular tree nut. Despite being high in fat, they are highly nutritious and extremely healthy. The almond is the edible seed that grows on the tree Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree. Almonds are native to the Middle East, but the United States is now the world’s largest producer. The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside.
They are sold either raw (often referred to as “natural”) or roasted. Almonds boast an incredibly impressive nutrient profile.
A 1 ounce (28 grams, or small handful) serving of almonds contains:
Fiber: 3.5 grams.
Protein: 6 grams.
Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated).
Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.
This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates.
It is also important to note that 10-15% of an almond’s calories are not absorbed by the body, because the fat is too difficult to access and break down.
Almonds are also high in phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed. This means that the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you get from the almonds will be reduced somewhat.
Almonds are a fantastic source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.
The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin.
For this reason, blanched almonds (skin removed) are not the best choice from a health perspective.
A clinical trial of 60 male smokers found that 84 grams (about 3 ounces) of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23-34%, over a 4 week period.
These findings support those of another study, which found that eating almonds with main meals reduced some markers of oxidative damage .