What are the health benefits of almonds and other nuts?
Almonds are a type of tree nut with plenty of essential nutrients, including gut-friendly fiber, heart-healthy fats, and a myriad of other vitamins and minerals.
They pack a nutritional punch with their impressive amounts of protein, monounsaturated ("good") fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium and magnesium.
They're also teeming with potent antioxidants, including flavonoids and vitamin E, according to a 2021 article.
Ward Off Disease
Almonds are loaded with antioxidants, thereby making them a particularly delicious way to stave off disease. Specifically, the nuts contain antioxidants such as vitamin E and flavonoids (a type of plant compound).
Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, according to a 2016 article, further enhancing the disease-busting potential of almonds.
Promote Gut Health
Nuts such as almonds contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. This is stellar news for your gut, as both types of fiber support healthy digestion.
Insoluble fiber, which doesn't dissolve in water, helps move food through your gastrointestinal system. It also bulks up the stool, which is helpful if you're prone to constipation. Meanwhile, soluble fiber which dissolves in water turns into a gel in your gut. This can normalize stool consistency — think: firming up loose stool or softening hard stool.
The fiber and flavonoids in nuts, including almonds, also boast prebiotic properties, according to a 2017 scientific review. This means they feed good gut bacteria in the gut, helping said microbes flourish and grow.
Control Blood Sugar
As noted earlier, soluble fiber turns into a gel in the GI tract. This slows down the absorption of carbs, which prevents spikes in blood sugar,
This is noteworthy because blood sugar spikes increase the production of insulin, the hormone that moves glucose into cells, which then works to normalize blood sugar levels.
Frequent blood sugar spikes can cause insulin to stop working properly, resulting in poor blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes. That said, the high fiber content in almonds can help keep your blood sugar in check.
Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Almonds also support heart health. The soluble fiber in the nuts binds with LDL ("bad") cholesterol in the digestive system, keeping it from entering the bloodstream and traveling to other parts of the body.
When this fiber is excreted in the stool, it brings along the cholesterol, ultimately preventing your body from absorbing LDL cholesterol and negatively impacting blood cholesterol levels.
The unsaturated fats in almonds also raise HDL ("good") cholesterol while reducing LDL ("bad") cholesterol. These effects are key because high levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Promote Brain Health
If you want to eat for brain health, add almonds to your rotation. The nuts contain L-carnitine, a compound derived from lysine, an amino acid. "L-carnitine in almonds can stimulate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in memory and clear thinking.
The antioxidants in almonds also help, as they combat oxidative stress in the brain. Otherwise, oxidative damage can lead to neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Increase Feelings of Fullness
If you're looking for a satisfying and filling snack, munch on some almonds. As noted earlier, the nuts contain protein and fiber — two nutrients that can help you feel satisfied. Fiber is also digested slowly, meaning it stays in the GI tract for a longer time.