Your favorite afternoon snack just got even more appetizing. As if we needed another reason to love almonds—one of the healthiest, highest-protein nuts you can find—a 2022 study out of the United Kingdom recently found that almonds also contain a unique fatty acid that’s linked to improved gut health. Read on for more about this breakthrough study, as well as all of the other amazing health benefits almonds have to offer.
The Latest: Eating Almonds Is Linked to Gut Health
A research group at King’s College in London published a small study that found eating a handful of almonds everyday for only four weeks increased the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, in participants. This fatty acid has been tied to improved gut microbiome health , as it’s a main energy source for cells in the colon. When these cells are functioning at their peak, it creates an ideal environment for healthy gut microbes to flourish.
The gut microbiome is a group of over a trillion microorganisms that work together to support several different aspects of our health, including the gut and digestion, heart health, skin health, mental health, and many more in between. Eating a colorful, plant-heavy, and overall diverse diet—almonds included—is essential to keeping your microbiome balanced and functioning.
More Top Health Benefits of Almonds
Beyond this latest discovery, almonds have long been known as nutrient-dense superfood and an important part of eating for optimal health and nutrition.
“No one nutrient makes tree nuts in general, and almonds in particular, ‘healthy.’ Rather, it's the overall nutritional profile: offering a lot of ‘good’ nutrients we need and don't reliably get enough of, and minimal ‘bad’ nutrients that we tend to get in excess,” says David Katz, M.D., MPH, founding director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University’s Griffin Hospital, founder and CEO of
, founder and president of
True Health Initiative
, and coauthor of
How to Eat
Nuts in general are an excellent source of vegan protein , and almonds are especially high in the essential macronutrient . One serving of almonds ( 1 ounce or about a quarter-cup), provides 6 grams of protein
While we have gut health on the brain, one of the nutrients creating this impressive nutrient profile is fiber. Fiber helps to maintain regularity and healthy digestion while also acting as a prebiotic , or food for our gut bacteria , to improve the micro-organism diversity in the biome. The fiber found in almonds also helps to keep us fuller for longer while regulating blood sugars after eating.
“Almonds are a rich source of healthful unsaturated fat, notably monounsaturated fat (similar to olives and olive oil), while being quite low in saturated fat,” Dr. Katz says. This, in combination with almonds’ protein content, also translates to improved satiety. Plus, these types of fats are associated with improved cholesterol levels and decreased inflammation in the body. One study conducted on almonds, specifically, found that consumption was also inversely related to cardiovascular disease risk .
In the micronutrient and plant compounds department, almonds also seriously deliver, here’s just a taste of some that they offer:
Vitamin E , one of the fat-soluble vitamins that's a potent antioxidant, helps to eradicate free radicals in the body. It also supports the health of our vision, reproductive systems, and skin.
Almonds are also packed with the inconspicuous trace mineral manganese that's vital in the formation of connective tissue, bones, components of the blood, and certain hormones. It's also important for metabolism, blood sugar regulation, and brain function.
Though typically employed to help with sleep or digestive concerns, magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production as well as muscle and nerve function. Consumption of this mineral has even been associated with reductions in blood pressure .
This essential mineral is vital to bodily processes such as metabolism, iron absorption, immune system health, the creation of red blood cells, and the formation of collagen to build healthy bones and tissues. Studies have shown that it can also be protective against or help improve symptoms of cardiovascular disease .
Almonds are a good vegan source of calcium (an essential mineral found in many dairy products like milk and cheese), and can aid in maintain strong bones, muscles, and nerves.
Similarly to calcium, phosphorus also contributes to healthy bones and teeth while assisting with proper growth and cell repair in the body.
Phytochemicals and Antioxidants
Almonds are packed with healthy, powerful plant compounds too. “[They’re] a good source of both antioxidants and plant sterols that have a lipid-lowering effect,” Dr. Katz explains. They're also full of flavonols , another group of plant compounds, specifically quercetin and kaempferol, both of which are super-effective at reducing inflammation in the body and boosting the immune system.
The Healthiest Ways to Eat More Almonds
Now that we know just how healthy almonds are for us, there are a few things to keep in mind. “The one potential liability, as with most nuts, is that they are rich in calories,” Dr. Katz says. That said, he and his team have done studies showing just how satiating almonds are, naturally helping us to avoid overindulging while providing all these great nutrients.
Another note: “Be careful about what is done to them,” Dr. Katz adds. “Honey-roasted almonds [for example] may be fried in oil, changing the fatty acid profile; soaked in honey, adding a lot of sugar; and salted, adding a lot of sodium. This is no longer the same food.” Almonds that have been roasted and salted, while albeit delicious, may be cooked with added oils and come with a fair amount of added sodium. An easy way to get acquainted with exactly what you’re buying is simply to glance at the nutrition/ingredient label. Ideally, look for almonds in their “native state” as Dr. Katz says, or as close to their raw form as you can. This means look for unsalted and raw almonds or dry-roasted almonds.
Some fantastic ways to add them into your meals and snacks include chopping and mixing them into yogurt with fresh fruit; sprinkling sliced or slivered almonds onto salads for an irresistible crunch and a pinch of protein; tossing them with green beans, fresh lemon, and garlic; or simply enjoying a handful straight from the container as a satisfying afternoon snack .
Easy Almond Recipes to Make on Repeat
Baked Oatmeal With Cranberries and Almonds
Almond-Crusted Chicken With Arugula Salad
Quick, Nutty, Almond-Buttery Noodles
Spicy Almond-and-Seed Salad Topper
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
The newest findings on almonds combined with the nutrition information we already know about this terrific tree nut makes stocking up even more of a no-brainer next time you're in the nut aisle. Happy snacking!