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7+ Benefits of Eating Almonds for Skin Health, Digestion, Metabolic Function, & More

Published on January 29, 2024


By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

https://www.holisticwritingconcepts.com
7+ Benefits of Eating Almonds for Skin Health, Digestion, Metabolic Function, & More
7+ Benefits of Eating Almonds for Skin Health, Digestion, Metabolic Function, & More

Eating a handful of Almonds a day is almost as accepted a health practice as the age-old idea that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

However, from popular gluten- and grain-free almond flour treats to almond milk lattes and almond butter smoothies, many of us get more than just a handful daily.

So, just how healthy are Almonds, and how much is optimal?

In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of eating Almonds to support skin health, reduce wrinkles, support cardiovascular function, boost your nutrition, support metabolic function, and more, plus how many Almonds per day are healthful and environmental considerations.*

A Brief History + Fun Facts About Almonds

Almonds are one of those rare nuts that impart a naturally sweet flavor, especially if enjoyed raw.

However, did you know wild Almonds used to be bitter and poisonous?

The wild bitter almonds that modern almonds come from contain toxic amygdalin, a compound that transforms into cyanide when ingested.

Many an ancient forager was subjected to extreme abdominal pain and discomfort or even death from consuming too many of the bitter drupes.

Fortunately, the domestication of Almond trees over many years allowed growers to slowly breed out the bitter seeds in favor of the sweet. 

In addition, research has shown a genetic mutation occurred within Almond seeds, erasing their ability to produce the bitter toxin.

Although the exact history of almond domestication is still controversial, studies suggest Almond trees were among the first to be cultivated by humans, starting at around 3000 B.C. or earlier.

Almond trees are native to the Mediterranean, and once cultivated, their popularity has become widespread. 

Today, almond trees are grown throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, California, India, China, and other parts of Asia, Australia, and Chile, with California responsible for 80% of the world’s supply.REF#3450 REF#3451

5 More Fun Facts About Almonds: 

  • Almonds have significance in various cultures, including being seen as a symbol of good luck, longevity, and fertility and as a tool in ceremonies such as Italian weddings, Spanish harvest celebrations, and France’s annual Feast of Epiphany.
  • Almonds have been documented in many ancient texts, including the Bible and ancient Greek medical literature.
  • Almonds rely heavily on pollinators for production. Thus, the yearly pollination of California’s almond trees is the largest managed pollination in the world. It takes approximately one million hives—nearly half the entire country’s hive population—being transported to almond groves via hive brokers to accomplish this. Note: There are some hefty ecological impacts of this mass-pollination practice, which we’ll discuss later on.
  • Although classified as a nut for culinary purposes, Almonds are technically a seed drupe. A drupe a type of fruit with an outer fleshy part surrounding a shell or pit with a seed inside. Some examples of drupes include: apricots, cashews, olives, peaches, pecans, plums, and walnuts. Some people with nut allergies can have drupes, and some cannot, so check with your doctor if you have any type of nut allergy.
  • Almonds are used in various aspects of Ayurveda, the traditional wellness practice of India, for their nutrition and health benefits.

Based on its history and global cultural significance, it’s no wonder the Almond is considered a supernut!

Next, we’ll explore some of the studied health benefits of Almonds and how best to enjoy them to support well-being.

7 Benefits of Eating Almonds

The Almond’s history of traditional use in ancient Greek medicine, Ayurveda, and other wellness practices has made it the subject of several studies.

Scientific analysis of Almonds has revealed several nutrients and active plant compounds believed to be responsible for their benefits.

Here’s a nutritional breakdown of the primary nutrients and plant compounds in Almonds: REF#3452

  • Polyphenols
  • Phytosterols
  • Vitamin E
  • B-vitamins
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Essential fatty acids, including omega-3s

In subsequent sections, we’ll explore these nutrients and their functions in greater detail.

The following are seven potential benefits of eating Almonds.

1: Almonds are a Super-Nutritious Superfood

Crunchy and savory-sweet. Almonds are a superfood that has sustained people for centuries.

As mentioned in the previous section, Almonds are a rich source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, including essential fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. 

These nutrients are critical in many bodily functions, like energy production, cell growth, and immune function.

Almonds also contain polyphenols—a type of antioxidant that promotes cell health and supports inflammatory response, and phytosterols—a kind of plant compound associated with promoting various aspects of cardiovascular function.REF#3453

Note: Most Almonds’ antioxidants are found in their brown skin, so purchase unblanched Almonds for maximum nutritional benefit!

Almond fiber has also been the subject of emerging research, as it appears to have prebiotic potential that may benefit the gut microbiome.

Nutritional Value of Almonds:

A one-ounce serving (about a handful) of Almonds contains: REF#3454

  • 164 calories
  • 6 grams of protein
  • 14 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of carbohydrate
  • 7.26 mg vitamin E (48% daily value)
  • 0.618 mg manganese (27% daily value)
  • 76.5 mg magnesium (18% daily value)
  • 76 mg of calcium (8% daily value)
  • 12.5 µg folate

Almonds are one of the best sources of natural Vitamin E in the world, and are also touted as a natural, plant-based source of calcium.

Modern research has confirmed what the ancients and traditional wellness practitioners have always known: Almonds are a nutrient-dense superfood worth regular consumption.

2: Almonds are Rich in Protective Antioxidants

We’ve already established that Almonds are a natural source of antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and Vitamin E.

But why does this matter?

Research suggests the abundance of polyphenols in Almonds may play a vital role in protecting the body and conveying various health benefits.REF#3455

These polyphenols, along with vitamin E., work by scavenging free radicals (unstable molecules) that can cause cellular damage if left unchecked.

Antioxidants, like those found in Almonds, have also been shown to support normal inflammatory response, which is directly related to the health of nearly every organ and system, from the heart to the brain.

Several studies, as documented in a 2022 meta-analysis, suggest eating about 60 grams (about 2.25 ounces) of Almonds a day may help support normal inflammatory response.REF#3456

3: Almonds May Support Heart and Cardiovascular Function

Once feared as a “high-fat food,” Almonds and other nuts are now widely recognized as heart-healthy foods.

Research suggests Almonds have many nutrients that contribute to heart and cardiovascular function, including: REF#3457 REF#3458

  • Polyphenols: A group of antioxidants that mediate free radical damage*, which helps promote normal inflammatory response.
  • Vitamin E: A natural antioxidant known to support normal inflammatory response and heart function.
  • Healthy fats like MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids): These support normal inflammatory responses and promote satiety.
  • Plant sterols: These support normal cholesterol levels.
  • Fiber: This supports normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and the gut-heart axis. It also helps keep you full and satiated.

Studies have also shown Almonds may help support the following aspects of cardiovascular function: REF#3459 REF#3460

  • Arterial function
  • Normal blood viscosity
  • Normal cholesterol
  • Normal blood pressure

Antioxidants and fatty acids found in Almonds have been shown to positively impact inflammatory response, a key component of heart and cardiovascular function.

So, how many Almonds a day will support heart and cardiovascular function?

This depends on many factors, including your current state of health and how much fat you consume from other sources.

Experts generally recommend enjoying a serving of unsalted raw or dry-roasted nuts (about a small handful) 4-6 times a week to reap their heart benefits without overdoing it.REF#3461

4: Almonds and Sweet Almond Oil Are Fantastic for Your Skin

You may have noticed Sweet Almond Oil as an ingredient in various skincare products and DIY skin and body care recipes.

You may also have heard that eating Almonds can help reduce wrinkles and promote more youthful skin.

Emerging research and traditional use suggest these rumors have merit.

One small randomized pilot study found that daily consumption of almonds at 20% of caloric intake over 16 weeks resulted in significantly decreased wrinkle severity and width in postmenopausal women compared with the control group who ate a different calorie-matched snack.REF#3462

Another study found almond consumption may provide enhanced protection from UV photodamage.REF#3463

More research is needed, but it stands to reason that Almonds may have an anti-aging effect on the skin, given their historical use as a longevity food and antioxidant profile.

Sweet Almond Oil has long been used as a beauty aid and nourishing skin and hair oil in Ayurveda, the Middle East, and other traditional wellness practices.

The natural vitamin E, vitamin A, polyphenols, and essential fatty acids in Almond oil make it a nourishing, emollient, and gentle oil that helps moisturize and protect without creating a greasy feeling.

The best quality Sweet Almond Oil is cold-pressed as high-heat processing degrades its nutrient content.

Discover how to use Sweet Almond Oil in your DIY skincare recipes in: How To Use Herbs For Skincare + 8 Of The Best To Try. 

5: Eating Almonds Benefits Digestion & the Gut Microbiome

Earlier, you learned that Almonds are a good source of fiber, which is essential for promoting digestive, cardiovascular, and gut health.

Fiber used to be divided into soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which provide benefits.

Today, we are also aware of prebiotic fiber, which resists digestion and ferments in the gut, providing essential food for friendly bacteria.

Emerging research has shown that raw and roasted Almonds contain considerable amounts of potential prebiotic components (with raw almonds having slightly more than roasted) that may influence levels of various beneficial bacteria in animals and humans.REF#3464 REF#3465

Another study showed that finely ground Almonds significantly increased the populations of the beneficial bacteria bifidobacteria and Eubacterium rectale, resulting in a higher prebiotic index than commercial prebiotic fructooligosaccharides.REF#3466

Given the new understanding of how the gut microbiome influences the entire body, Almonds’ prebiotic potential may explain their legendary health and longevity benefits.

6: Almonds May Provide Broad-Spectrum Benefits for Metabolic Function

Almonds are a staple in many diets aimed at optimizing metabolic function through traditional foods and low-carb or grain-free living.

Although it may appear their function is to serve as a substitute for more refined grains and flours, research suggests Almonds may provide specific metabolic benefits, including: REF#3467 REF#3468 REF#3469 REF#3470

  • Promoting satiety
  • Supporting normal inflammatory response
  • Promoting normal cholesterol and other previously outlined aspects of cardiovascular function
  • Helping with weight management 
  • Supporting normal blood glucose
  • Supporting cognitive performance

So what about Almonds and weight loss? Is there a real connection? 

Recent systemic reviews suggest Almonds are the only nut that may have a small impact on weight management. REF#3471

There are many possible reasons for this, including: 

  • Enhanced displacement of other foods
  • Upregulation of acute signals for reduced hunger
  • Elevated satiety and increased resting energy expenditure
  • The effects of Almonds on inflammatory response, which can also be associated with weight and metabolic function

Although more research is needed to understand how Almonds impact metabolic function fully, they are widely accepted as a healthy food for dieters and those interested in supporting metabolic function when consumed in moderate amounts.

7: Almonds are a Good Vegan Source of Calcium

Many vegans and dairy-free consumers worry about getting enough calcium in their diets.

This is partly why Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy products. It’s naturally higher in calcium than many, but not all, plant milks.

A one-ounce serving of Almonds contains 8% of your daily calcium recommendations. In addition, many brands of Almond milk are fortified with calcium, which can take the worry out of meeting your daily calcium requirements.

Other sources of plant-based calcium include: 

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Soy (read about the pros and cons here)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Amaranth 
  • Teff
  • Sea vegetables
  • Blackstrap molasses

Check with your healthcare practitioner about the best calcium sources and amounts.

How Many Almonds to Eat Per Day

Now that you know all the benefits of eating Almonds, making them your staple snack, milk, nut butter, and/or baking flour may be tempting.

Not so fast.

Like all nuts, Almonds contain fat and calories, which we need to survive and thrive. However, it can be easy to overdo it and exceed your daily caloric requirements.

As noted above, most experts recommend eating a small handful of Almonds 4-6 times per week, while others say you’re safe to have them daily.

Keep this in mind as you experiment with other almond products, as that one serving can get used up quickly.

If you’re on a special low-fat diet, have concerns about nut allergies (remember, Almonds are technically a drupe, but may not be suitable for nut allergies), or have any other concerns, check with your healthcare practitioner.

Almonds, Bees, and Water Usage: The Ethics of Almond Eating

News reports about how our nation’s Almond obsession is straining California’s water supplies and causing an increase in bee deaths REF#3472 REF#3473  have caused many people to rethink their Almond consumption.

This is not without merit as Almond groves require ample water and mass production, like what is practiced in California, for example, which stresses bee populations.

There are many opinions on how to address this, ranging from a complete boycott of Almonds and Almonds products to substituting other dairy-free milk alternatives for lattes and cereal or buying from regenerative Almond groves.

One cannot fault the Almond tree (which has been sustaining life and ecosystems for millennia), but the over-production and unsustainable mass-growing practices have become the norm.

Over-consuming any natural resource/food will have negative ecological and personal health consequences. 

Ultimately, one must consider the environmental impacts of mass Almond production balanced with their health benefits, the benefits of not consuming dairy (which can also help the environment, especially avoiding commercially-mass-produced dairy), and how much one consumes.

As previously discussed, enjoying a small serving of Almonds a few times a week is a lot different than eating a handful a day plus drinking glasses upon glasses of almond milk, baking with almond flour, using almond oil in skin care, putting almond butter in your daily smoothies, etc.

In the end, it is likely best to enjoy Almonds responsibly and sparingly, as in one serving a few times a week, and consider substituting less water-intensive dairy, flour, nut, and oil alternatives, such as: 

  • Oat, hazelnut, hemp, soy, or macadamia milk
  • Oat, hazelnut, cassava, or pecan flour
  • Various other nuts for snacking, like Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds
  • Jojoba, hazelnut, avocado, olive oil, or apricot kernel oil for skin and hair care

If you’re used to Almond flour, consider subbing one of the suggestions above or using it with other gluten- or grain-free flours to create a more balanced diet and lower almond footprint.

Variety and balance are the spice of life, health, and environmental stewardship. 

And if you’re uncomfortable with buying Almonds now, there are plenty of other nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains of equal nutritional value.

Keep variety at the center of your nutrition plan, and enjoy Almonds responsibly!

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