Almonds have been prized since ancient times as one of humankind’s most beloved nuts. They were popular in the diets of ancient Egyptians and Indian populations. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic practitioners even believed that almonds were capable of increasing brain capacity, intellectual ability and longevity.
Today, almonds nutrition benefits are praised around the world, and they are used in numerous different ways: eaten raw as a healthy snack; as the base ingredient in almond butter, almond milk or almond flour; and even in many body lotions and fragrances.
Cholesterol reduction is the most celebrated health benefit of almonds, but there are many other vital health benefits of almonds nutrition. Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants as well as plant protein.
And don’t fear the fat in almonds — almonds are actually beneficial when it comes to losing weight, despite their higher calorie content. One study even found that almonds consumed as snacks reduce hunger and desire to eat later in the day, and when dieters eat almonds daily they reduce their overall calorie intake
Almonds Nutrition: The Facts Behind the Benefits
Botanically, almonds (scientifically termed Prunus dulcis) are actually very small stone fruits in the Amygdalus family and related to other fruits that contain hard pits, including cherries, plums and peaches. Almonds are a type of drupe nut, which means along with other nuts like macadamias, pecans and walnuts, they have multiple layers that enclose a single, hard seed in the center.
Almonds are considered dry drupes so they first must be extracted (which is called “shelling”) before being sold and eaten, which is why you might see the description “shelled almonds” when you purchase ready-to-eat almonds.
In the medical world, almonds nutrition is most praised due to the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin, and trace minerals such as magnesium.
Although almonds are high in calories and considered “energy-dense” (as all nuts are), they provide a whole range of critical nutrients and chemical compounds that often lack in the standard American diet (sometimes called “SAD”).