Almonds are, in fact, seeds; they are a “drupe” and are therefore not considered a true nut.
Almond trees are believed to have been one of the earliest trees to have been domesticated. Evidence of domesticated almond trees dating to 3000-2000 BC have been unearthed in Jordan.
The health benefits of almonds have been documented for centuries, and modern research backs up some of these claims – there any many goods reasons to include them in your diet.
Facts on almonds
Here are some key points about almonds. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Almonds are not, in fact, a true nut.
- The almond is a species of tree native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East.
- Wild almonds contain a powerful toxin.
- Some evidence suggests that almonds can lower cholesterol levels.
- Almonds were first domesticated thousands of years ago
Benefits of almonds
There are a number of potential health benefits associated with almonds.
1) Almonds and cholesterol
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that consuming almonds increases vitamin E levels in the plasma and red blood cells, and also lowers cholesterol levels.
One of the study’s authors said:
“This study is important because it shows that eating almonds can significantly boost levels of vitamin E in the diet and bloodstream. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that defends your cells against damage on a daily basis and prevents artery-clogging oxidation of cholesterol. Eating a handful of almonds a day is a great way to get the vitamin E your body needs to stay healthy.”
Ella Haddad, DrPH, RD, Loma Linda University, CA
2) Almonds and cancer risk
A study, published in 2015 in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, looked at nut consumption and cancer risk.
The authors concluded that “peanuts, walnuts, and almonds appear to be a protective factor for the development of breast cancer.”
Almonds, along with nuts and seeds in general, are often associated with improved levels of blood lipids and being good for the heart.
There is some evidence indicating that including almonds in your diet may help ward off heart disease, but overall, the evidence is inconclusive.
In a study published in 2014, scientists found that almonds significantly increased the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream, reduced blood pressure, and improved blood flow. Their findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.
4) Almonds and vitamin E
Almonds contain relatively high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant. In fact, they are one of the best natural sources of vitamin E, providing 37 percent of the recommended daily intake in just 1 ounce. Vitamin E helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
However, some studies have found a slight increase in prostate cancer risk with higher intakes of vitamin E; and a paper published by the American Heart Association in 2014 reported no significant benefits of vitamin E against heart disease or stroke.
There is some evidence that almonds may help keep blood sugar under control.
This ability is thought to be due to their high levels of magnesium — containing almost half the daily recommended amount in just 2 ounces of almonds.
In one study, people with type 2 diabetes and low magnesium levels took magnesium supplements. The researchers measured an increase in their magnesium levels, and they also saw improvements in insulin resistance.
6) Almonds help manage weight
There have been numerous studies on almonds and a variety of nuts that demonstrate their ability to keep people feeling full.