The Top 7 Science-Backed Benefits Of Almonds & How To Enjoy Them
Known for both their buttery taste and crunchy texture, almonds are a versatile ingredient often added to sweet and savory dishes alike. They are also a great source of essential nutrients and offer a host of health benefits.
We reached out to a few experts to learn more about the top science-backed benefits of almonds, plus how they stack up against other nuts.
What are almonds?
Though they are often referred to as a nut, almonds are technically a type of seed derived from almond trees. These trees are native to western Asia but are now grown and cultivated around the globe. Compared to some other types of nuts, almonds come with a slightly steeper price tag, which is due to both their popularity and the labor-intensive harvesting processes required.
In terms of appearance, almonds are light brown and oval-shaped, with a smooth outer shell. They have a rich, nutty flavor that lends itself well to a wide range of recipes, adding an extra crunch to salads or bringing a tender texture to baked goods. They also make a healthy snack as is and can be enjoyed roasted, raw, or salted.
- Calories: 164
- Fat: 14.1 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.1 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 0.3 milligram
- Carbohydrates: 6.1 grams
- Dietary fiber: 3.5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Vitamin E: 7.3 milligrams
- Manganese: 0.6 milligram
- Magnesium: 76.5 milligrams
- Copper: 0.3 milligram
- Riboflavin: 0.3 milligram
- Phosphorus: 136 milligrams
Almonds are especially high in monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid, a type of heart-healthy fat that may help regulate body weight2, food intake, and metabolism. They're also a great source of vitamin E, a micronutrient that doubles as an antioxidant to boost immune function3 and ease inflammation.
Health benefits of almonds
Besides the nut's flavor and versatility, there are plenty of reasons to include a handful of almonds in your day. From improving heart health to curbing hunger and ramping up weight loss, almonds have been associated with a long list of health benefits. Read on for a few of the top health perks of almonds:
They could keep cholesterol in check.
Adding almonds to your snack rotation could be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels. "Almonds contain heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that have been linked to lowering 'bad cholesterol' or LDL levels in the body," says Huma Chaudhry, R.D., LDN, a clinical dietitian. According to Chaudhry, almonds also contain more fiber per ounce than other tree nuts, which may help lower cholesterol levels.
One study in adults found that snacking on whole roasted almonds daily for six weeks led to a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels6 compared to snacking on a less healthy control snack (muffins). Another review concluded that eating around 1.5 ounces of almonds per day could decrease total and LDL cholesterol7, along with several other risk factors for heart disease.
They may help balance blood sugar levels.
"Almonds are a great blood-sugar-balancing snack," says Desiree Nielsen, R.D., a dietitian and author of Good for Your Gut. She explains that the combination of fiber, fat, and protein can promote a slow, steady rise in blood sugar levels when eaten alone or paired with other foods high in carbs, such as fruit.
Interestingly, one study showed that eating 2 ounces of almonds per day for 12 weeks could decrease hemoglobin A1c8—a marker of long-term blood sugar control—in adolescents and young adults at risk for diabetes. What's more, a 2023 study found that eating around 1.5 ounces of almonds daily enhanced insulin sensitivity9, which could improve the body's ability to use insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
They could be beneficial for weight loss.
Though almonds may be high in calories, they could actually be good for your waistline. That's because almonds boast a good amount of protein, fat, and fiber in each serving, which could support satiety and help keep you feeling fuller for longer, according to Chaudhry.
One analysis of 28 studies found that almond consumption could be linked to reductions in both body weight10 and fat mass. In another study, eating almonds as a midmorning snack increased subjective feelings of satiety11 compared to not eating a snack. Not only that, but participants consumed the same amount of calories throughout the day, regardless of whether they ate 1 or 1.5 ounces of almonds.
They can help keep your heart healthy.
Almonds make a great addition to a heart-healthy diet, thanks to their stellar nutritional composition. "Almonds contain multiple nutrients associated with heart health, including potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, as well as vitamin E and monounsaturated fats," Nielsen tells mindbodygreen.
Research suggests that regularly snacking on nuts could even help ward off heart disease. According to one review, increased consumption of nuts was associated with a reduced risk of total cardiovascular disease12 and coronary heart disease. In another analysis, researchers concluded that eating more nuts could also be tied to a lower risk of developing and dying from heart disease13.
They are rich in antioxidants.
One study found that eating almonds could improve antioxidant levels16 in the blood while also reinforcing the body's antioxidant defense system. A 2018 animal study also showed that supplementing with almonds could help delay or prevent memory problems17 in rats, thanks to their potent antioxidant properties.
They can enhance gut health.
The health of your digestive tract plays a central role in just about every other aspect of health. In fact, it's believed that the gut microbiome—which encompasses the trillions of microbes housed in the intestines—could be involved in the development of many different diseases18, ranging from cancer to diabetes and beyond. Filling up on almonds can be a simple strategy to give your gut health an upgrade.
A review published in Nutrients reported that almonds can support the health of the gut microbiome19 by increasing the diversity and richness of microflora, improving the ratio of beneficial bacteria to harmful bacteria and bumping up the concentration of gut-healthy compounds. Similarly, one study showed that snacking on 2 ounces of almonds per day improved the diversity20 and composition of the gut flora in college students.
They may boost bone density.
Almonds can supply many of the nutrients needed to help maintain healthy bones21, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. According to one older study, almonds can reduce the formation of osteoclasts22—a type of cell that breaks down bone tissue—by 20%, which could contribute to their bone-boosting benefits. However, more high-quality, recent research is needed.
Recommended serving size
So, how many almonds per day do you need to eat to take advantage of the wealth of health-promoting properties that they offer? According to Chaudhry, sticking to around one serving per day—about 1 ounce, or 23 kernels—is a good goal for most people. However, some of the studies discussed above found that eating up to two servings per day could offer even more added benefits.
Nevertheless, it's a good idea to keep your portion sizes in check, especially if you're looking to lose weight. "While almonds are quite filling, they are also an energy-dense food, so it's worth being mindful of serving size unless you are extremely active or have high energy needs," says Nielsen.
What about almond butter?
Almond butter can bring a rich flavor and creamy consistency to desserts, dressings, and dips alike. Almond butter boasts a similar set of vitamins and minerals as raw almonds and is a great source of healthy fats23. However, keep in mind that nut butter is also quite calorie-dense, so stick to a single serving (about 2 tablespoons) at a time.
Almonds vs. Other nuts
If almonds aren't your favorite, there are plenty of other nutritious nuts to choose from. Here's a look at how almonds compare to other popular options:
|Nuts||Almonds (1 oz)||Pistachios (1 oz)||Cashews (1 oz)||Walnuts (1 oz)|
|Fat||14.1 grams||12.8 grams||12.4 grams||18.5 grams|
|Saturated fat||1.1 grams||1.68 grams||2.21 grams||1.7 grams|
|Sodium||0.3 milligrams||0.3 milligrams||3.4 millligrams||0.6 milligram|
|Carbohydrates||6.1 grams||7.71 grams||8.56 grams||3.9 grams|
|Dietary fiber||3.5 grams||3 grams||0.94 gram||1.9 grams|
|Protein||6 grams||5.7 grams||5.16 grams||4.3 grams|
|Vitamin E||7.3 milligrams||0.811 milligrams||0.255 milligrams||0.198 milligrams|
|Manganese||0.6 milligrams||0.34 milligrams||0.471 milligrams||0.967 milligrams|
|Magnesium||76.5 milligrams||34.3 milligrams||82.8 milligrams||44.8 milligrams|
|Copper||0.3 milligrams||0.369 milligrams||0.62 milligram||0.451 milligrams|
|Phosphorus||136 milligrams||139 milligrams||168 milligrams||98.1 milligrams|
- Almonds vs. Pistachios: Pistachios tend to have an earthy, nutty flavor that's slightly sweeter and less smoky than almonds. They're also a smidgen lower in fat24, calories, and fiber yet higher in important nutrients like vitamins B6 and C.
- Almonds vs. Cashews: Known for their mild flavor and buttery texture, cashews can be a budget-friendly alternative to almonds. Compared to almonds, they're lower in calories, fat, and calcium but contain almost double the amount of copper5 per serving.
- Almonds vs. Walnuts: Walnuts have an earthy, bitter taste and wrinkly texture that stands out from other nuts. While there is some overlap between the health benefits of almonds and walnuts, walnuts boast more fat4 (the majority of which is polyunsaturated fatty acids) and pack a powerful punch of manganese and copper.
Allergies and side effects
Although almonds are chock-full of essential nutrients, they might not be a great fit for everyone. For starters, people with an allergy to almonds or tree nuts should steer clear of almonds altogether. Additionally, because they're high in calories, it's best not to go overboard on serving size if weight loss is your goal.
Keep in mind that almonds can go rancid, so be sure to check for signs of spoilage before you chow down. Dark specks of mold, an unpleasant smell, and a bitter taste are a few signs that your bag of almonds might be past its prime.
Buying & storage tips
- Chaudhry notes that opting for organic almonds can help reduce exposure to harmful chemicals that may be used while growing almonds.
- Chaudhry also recommends choosing raw, unsalted almonds for their both nutritional value and versatility.
- Be sure to keep almonds in an airtight container to maximize their shelf life. Though they can be stored in a cool pantry, sticking almonds in the fridge or freezer can also help keep them fresh for even longer.
Is 20 almonds a day too many?
Nope! Chaudhry recommends aiming for a handful of almonds, or about 23 kernels, daily, to ensure you're taking advantage of the many nutrients the nuts have to offer. However, eating up to 2 ounces of almonds a day has been shown to be beneficial in some clinical research. Unless you're restricting calories, eating one to two handfuls of almonds per day should be totally healthy.
Are there benefits of eating almonds in the morning?
Almonds can be a great addition to a balanced breakfast or high-protein snack. Because they're high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, they can help curb cravings and keep you feeling full throughout the morning.
Are almonds good for weight loss?
Almonds contain several nutrients that can support satiety, which could promote weight loss. However, they are also high in calories, so it's important to enjoy them in moderation and make adjustments to your diet as needed.
Almonds are jam-packed with nutrients and might even offer a few big health benefits, especially for your heart, gut, and waistline. Plus, they have a unique taste and texture that works well in a variety of recipes. Grab a handful of almonds for a healthy, high-protein snack or slather a spoonful of almond butter onto toast, fresh fruit, or your favorite baked goods and enjoy.
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.
Rachael works as a freelance writer and editor for several health and wellness publications. She is passionate about sharing evidence-based information on nutrition and health and breaking down complex topics into content that is engaging and easy to understand.
When she's not writing, Rachael enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, reading, gardening, and spending time with her husband and dogs.