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5 health benefits of almonds
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5 health benefits of almonds

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Almonds, consumed in their many forms, can contribute to a healthy diet.

Almonds are nutrient powerhouses. Whether consumed whole, chopped, sliced or ground into almond flour or almond butter, this deliciously satisfying nut truly deserves its superfood status. Here are five research-backed almond benefits, and simple ways to incorporate them into meals, snacks and treats.

1. Almonds are nutrient-rich.

An ounce of almonds, which is about 1/4 cup or 23 whole nuts, provides a generous amount of heart-healthy fat, along with 6 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of filling fiber (16% of the daily minimum), half of the daily target for vitamin E and 20% for magnesium — along with B vitamins and smaller amounts of calcium, iron and potassium.

2. Almonds can help gut health.

Both raw and roasted almonds have been found to act as prebiotics, which serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut linked to immunity, anti-inflammation and mental health. In a recent study, college students were randomly assigned to snack on almonds or graham crackers. After eight weeks, researchers observed that the almond eaters experienced important changes in their gut microbiome, including a decrease in amounts of one pathogenic bacterium, and an increase in the diversity of bacteria tied to positive outcomes, including weight management, insulin function, cholesterol regulation and anti-inflammation.

3. They keep your heart healthy.

Almonds protect your heart in several ways. The nuts have been shown to maintain or increase “good” heart-protective HDL cholesterol, while lowering “bad” LDL levels. Almonds and other nuts also help reduce blood pressure and improve vascular function, meaning they help blood vessels relax and reduce artery stiffness.

4. Almonds can aid weight regulation.

Eating tree nuts, including almonds, has been shown to reduce body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight compared to height) and reduce waist measurements. In addition to being satiating, the combo of healthy fat, plant protein and fiber in almonds boosts feelings of fullness and delays the return of hunger. Also, newer research finds that almonds actually contain about 20% fewer calories than the labels state, because some of the calories are not absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.

5. They’re good for the skin.

We know that good fats support skin health, but almonds may actually help turn back the clock when it comes to skin aging. In a 2019 study, healthy postmenopausal women were divided into two groups. For 16 weeks one group consumed 20% of their daily calories from almonds, and the other ate the same percentage as non-almond fare.

A facial photograph and image analysis system was used to assess wrinkle width and severity at the start of the study, and then 8 and 16 weeks later. Researchers found that the almond group had significantly decreased wrinkle severity and width compared to the non-almond eaters. Not a bad perk for a tasty food with so many additional benefits!

How to add more almonds to your meals.

Almonds are an easy portable snack as is, but they can also be incorporated into meals. Whip almond butter into a smoothie, drizzle it over overnight oats or use as a dip for fresh fruit. Sprinkle almonds onto a salad, cooked veggies or a stir-fry. Use almond flour in place of breadcrumbs to garnish lentil soup, spaghetti squash or hummus, or in place of all-purpose flour in pancakes and baked goods.

(Health delivers relevant information in clear, jargon-free language that puts health into context in peoples’ lives. Online at www.health.com.)

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