One ounce of almonds packs around 165 calories, 6 grams protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 3.5 grams fiber. Plus, its 14 grams of fat is 80% monounsaturated fat -- a healthy fat that helps lower your risk of heart disease while filling you up.
Almonds come packed with plant sterols, which are compounds that prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol. One-third cup of almonds a day, especially when you swap them for a less healthy snack choice, lowers your levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Of all the nuts, almonds have the most calcium, at about 75 milligrams per ounce. Calcium is key for bone building, blood clotting, healthy muscles, and a strong heart.
Whether you have allergies or avoid dairy for other reasons, almond milk is a great stand-in for cow's milk. It's lactose free and cholesterol free and is often fortified with nutrients and vitamins.
Fiber is a healthy diet must: It helps keep you regular, keeps your blood sugar level, holds cholesterol in check, and lowers your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Almonds deliver 3.5 grams of fiber per ounce (about 23 almonds).
Noshing on almonds helps you feel fuller, which can curb your cravings. Even with their high calorie count, almonds don't pack on pounds. In fact, some studies show almonds can help boost your metabolism and bring on weight loss.
The unsaturated fat in almonds boosts your serotonin levels during the day. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that helps control your sleep/wake cycles. Higher levels during the day mean better sleep at night.
A recent study of men showed that a half cup of nuts a day enhanced their sex life, improving the quality of their orgasms and increasing their sexual desire.
Almonds come stocked with vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps build up your cells to better withstand damage. Studies show getting more vitamin E can help prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Almonds can help feed healthy gut bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. These bacteria help you digest fiber, prevent infections, and put out important healthy chemicals.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- USDA: "Nuts, almonds."
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Almonds," "Vitamin E."
- Mayo Clinic: "Chart of high-fiber foods," "Dietary fats: Know which types to choose," "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet."
- American Heart Association: "Eating almonds and dark chocolate lowers bad cholesterol."
- International Osteoporosis Foundation: "Calcium Content Of Common Foods."
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: "Calcium and Vitamin D."
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The energetics of nut consumption."
- Cleveland Clinic: "5 Foods That Help You Sleep," "How Almonds Can Improve Your Heart Health."
- Harvard Medical School: "Eating more nuts may improve sexual function."
- New England Journal of Medicine: "Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women."
- Archives of Neurology: "Vitamin E and cognitive decline in older persons."
- Journal of the National Cancer Institute: "Prostate cancer and supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene: incidence and mortality in a controlled trial."
- Anaerobe: "Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans."
- Journal of Clinical Microbiology: "Bifidobacterium Bacteremia: Clinical Characteristics and a Genomic Approach To Assess Pathogenicity."