When you take a look at their nutritional content and health benefits, it's not surprising that almonds are regarded as a something of a "superfood." Eating a handful of almonds each day not only increases your intake of many important nutrients, but it also can help you lower your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy body weight.
Almonds contain high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are known to help reduce high cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005 shows that the addition of almonds to a heart-healthy diet -- or one that's otherwise low in saturated fat -- effectively lowers LDL cholesterol levels to a healthy range.
A 1-ounce serving of almonds contains a little more than 6 grams of carbohydrates, about half of which are in the form of dietary fiber. Almonds are considered a good source of fiber because they deliver about 12 percent of the recommended daily value per serving. Getting enough fiber in your diet can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and digestive disorders.
Almonds are a good source of high-quality plant protein, with 6 grams per 1-ounce serving. They're also low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free, which isn’t the case with many complete protein sources, including eggs, meat and poultry.
Almonds are a good source of many important vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin E. One serving of almonds delivers 40 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin E and about 15 percent of the recommended daily intake of riboflavin. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that protects body cells -- especially skin, heart and red blood cells -- from free radical damage. Riboflavin is an essential B vitamin that helps convert carbohydrates into energy.
Almonds contain a wide range of essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. A 1-ounce serving provides you with 20 percent and 15 percent of the daily values for magnesium and phosphorus, respectively. It also supplies a little less than 10 percent each of the daily values for calcium, potassium and iron.
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