What Is an Almond?
An almond is a seed from a fruit that grows from an almond tree. The fruit holds a hard shell, like a pit, with the almond seed inside. Although technically seeds, almonds are considered nuts.
People all over the world have been eating almonds for thousands of years. Today, about 80% of almonds are produced in California. You can find almonds in foods and even as added flavor in drinks around the world.
If you’re looking for an addition to your diet that packs a healthy punch, a small serving of almonds from time to time can make a big difference.
Like many nuts, almonds provide plenty of nutrients.
Nutrients per serving
An ounce of whole almonds contains:
- Calories: 152
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 15 grams
- Carbohydrates: 6 grams
- Dietary fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B2
It’s easy to eat too many, which could mean you’re getting more calories and fat than you need. A healthy serving is 1/4 cup, or about 23 almonds.
Health Benefits of Almonds
The dense nutrition that almonds provide can benefit your body in a number of ways. If you're looking to strengthen your heart, your bones, or even your libido, almonds may help.
Almonds could help you:
Eating almonds helps to lower levels of the bad kind of cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and increase levels of the good kind, high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Almonds also have anti-inflammatory properties to help protect you from heart disease.
Keep a healthy weight
Although they're high in calories, almonds could help to reduce your risk of weight gain and obesity — as long as you pay attention to portion size. The protein and fiber in the nuts helps you feel full faster, so you can better control your calorie intake while still satisfying your hunger.
Lower blood pressure
The vitamin E, potassium, and calcium in almonds could help to lower your blood pressure, which helps protect against heart disease.
Get essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber
Almonds are rich in important nutrients for your body, including magnesium, vitamin E, and fiber.
Almonds have both calcium and phosphorus, which are good for bone health.
Improve blood sugar control
Almonds seem to help curb blood sugar spikes after meals, which is key for people with diabetes.
Improve gut health
Recent research appears to suggest that almonds may help protect the health and immunity of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A healthier gut means a better immune system and a stronger body.
How to Prepare Almonds
Because almonds are so versatile and convenient, it's easy to fit them into your diet. Along with eating them on their own, here are a few ways you can enjoy almonds:
- Add sliced almonds as toppings to your oatmeal, cereal, or salad.
- Enjoy a bag of trail mix with almonds.
- Substitute almond butter for other nut butters.
- Use almond flour instead of traditional flour in baked goods.
- Roast almonds for better texture and flavor.
Commercially roasted and flavored varieties of almonds may contain more unhealthy oils and fewer nutritional benefits.
What Is Almond Oil?
A plant-based, heart-healthy oil that contains monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, almond oil is added to many beauty products for the hair and skin and can also be bought as a cooking oil.
Almond Oil Benefits
Edible almond oil, although less frequently used than almonds, can also provide some health benefits:
Control blood sugar levels
Studies suggest that oils rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like almond oil, may help with blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Vitamins and antioxidants like those found in almond oil can provide important health benefits. For example, the antioxidant vitamin E helps protect cells from free radicals. Having too many free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to some chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.
Is Almond Oil Good for Your Skin?
Almond oil’s moisturizing properties can help soothe your skin and relieve itching. Research suggests that applying almond oil to your skin in the form of a cream can ease symptoms of eczema and dermatitis. Almond oil might also improve the skin’s complexion and tone.
It's also high in vitamin A, which is thought to help with acne, and vitamin E, which may benefit sun-damaged skin.
Is Almond Oil Good for Hair?
Although we need more research into this, almond oil may help moisturize your hair and scalp. It can help tame frizz and moisturize and heal dry hair. Almond oil may also help relieve symptoms of dry, itchy scalp.
How to Prepare Almond Oil
Almond oil has a mild, nutty taste that can be a delicious addition to many foods.
Unrefined almond oil, which is made by pressing almonds without using heat, works well as a finishing oil that you add to your dish after cooking is done.
For cooking techniques like sautéing and roasting, you can also use refined almond oil. But the exposure to high heat during the refinement process can destroy some of its natural nutrients.
If you have a nut allergy, ask your doctor whether you should avoid almond oil.