What are almonds?
Although almonds are commonly referred to as a nut, they are actually teardrop-shaped edible seeds that are the fruit of the almond tree. You can buy them shelled or blanched, which is when shelled almonds have been treated with hot water to remove the brown outer coating, leaving behind a smooth white interior.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides or, check out some of our best almond recipes, from our pomegranate chicken with almond couscous, to our delicious fish tagine with saffron and almonds.
Nutritional benefits of almonds
A 30g serving of almonds contains:
- 184Kcal / 760KJ
- 6.3g Protein
- 16.7g Fat
- 11.5g Mono-unsaturated fat
- 72mg Calcium
- 81mg Magnesium
- 7.19mg Vitamin E
- 14mcg Folate
Although almonds are a high-fat food, much of this is in the form of monounsaturated fat, which helps to protect the heart by maintaining levels of high density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol versus the low density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Top 5 health benefits
1. May help with weight loss
Research by the British Journal of Nutrition found that consuming nuts as part of a healthy diet, around 55g a day, is not only beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease but also has limited risk of weight gain. A study from 2013 also concluded that almonds, when consumed as a snack, help to reduce hunger and don’t increase the risk of weight gain. This is, in part, because nuts contain a number of nutrients that we find difficult to access – this means we are unable to digest as much as 10-15% of their calories.
2. May help reduce the risk of heart disease
Almonds are rich in nutrients that help protect the heart, including unsaturated fatty acids, phytosterols, magnesium, vitamin E, copper and manganese. Two research studies in 2012 and 2014 found that including almonds in your diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, specifically in overweight individuals. Further research has shown that almond consumption helps to reduce LDL cholesterol which may, in turn, help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
3. May support blood sugar management
A 2017 study in India on patients with type 2 diabetes found that including almonds as part of a balanced diet had multiple benefits on both blood sugar levels and cardiovascular risk factors. A further study in China also demonstrated that regular almond consumption resulted in lower levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose, so it would appear that including almonds as part of a healthy diet may be beneficial for those with diabetes. That said, always check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, especially if you are on prescribed medication.
In addition to this, almonds are a great source of magnesium, which is known to be important for blood sugar control.
4. May support the brain
Almonds are a good source of nutrients that are important for brain health, including vitamin E, folate and unsaturated fatty acids, as well as l-carnitine which is known for its neuroprotective benefits.
5. May support gut health
It would appear that consuming almonds may be good for the gut. A 2016 study found that consuming moderate amounts of almonds or almond butter not only improved diet quality in both adults and children, but also altered the composition of the gut microbiome, possibly, in part, due to their high fibre content.
Are almonds safe for everyone?
People with an allergy to tree nuts should avoid almonds. Allergy symptoms normally develop within minutes, and you should see your GP if you experience an adverse reaction. However, if this develops into a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency and immediate help should be sought.
Young children, some older people and those with a problem swallowing should avoid whole nuts due to the risk of choking.
Visit the NHS website to read more about allergies.
Healthy ways to cook with almonds...
Trout with almond & red peppers
Savoy cabbage with almonds
Wholewheat pasta with broccoli & almonds
Warm cauliflower salad
Creamy veggie korma
Chicken biryani bake
Crunchy bulgur salad
Pomegranate chicken with almond couscous
This article was last reviewed on 6 October 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the past 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.