Want a healthy heart, shiny hair, and better digestion? Maybe all you need is a handful of almonds!
Hey, I’ll take any excuse for extra snacking. But in reality, this tasty little snack is actually really good for your health. So, let’s talk about all the reasons you should be munching on these more often and then look at easy ways to add ‘em to your diet.
The Almond: Small But Mighty!
I eat a lot of salads. No, I’m not talking about that sad excuse for a salad that some restaurants try to hand me, but it’s really just some chopped iceberg lettuce drowned in ranch. I am talking about those big, colorful, epic bowls filled to the brim with veggies and toppings. Salads with variety, texture, and flavor. The kind you literally can’t stop eating.
You’re probably asking what any of that has to do with almonds, right? That’s where my adoration of almonds all started. Once upon a time, they were just a simple salad topping. Sliced, roasted almonds were a great way for me to add a unique, crunchy texture without throwing a ton of croutons in there. Plus, their toasty, nutty flavor always plays well with a variety of other ingredients.
All those times I was sprinkling almonds on my salad, it never occurred to me just how healthy of a decision that was. As it turns out, almonds aren’t just delicious, they’re also really nutritious. I mean, as if I needed more reasons to love them!
Almonds Have a Lot of Health Benefits
Just how healthy are almonds? Healthy enough that I’d definitely deem them a superfood.
These small snacks are actually packed full of essential nutrients that can benefit us from head to toe. Just like various other nuts and seeds, almonds are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They pack plenty of vitamins and minerals, despite their small size. Plus, they boast antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Let’s talk about all the ways that almonds can benefit us!
Almonds Help Digestion
We all know that fiber is important for digestion health. It keeps things moving, if you know what I mean! Almonds are a good source of fiber, with about 4g in a one-ounce serving. That comes out to 13% of your daily recommended intake, all in just a handful of almonds. This will help maintain regularity and prevent constipation. The fiber in almonds can also act as a prebiotic, promoting healthy bacteria in your gut and improving the micro-organism diversity in the biome.
Keeping You Full Longer
Not only does fiber aid with digestive health, but it can also keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer. It used to be assumed that fiber kept us satisfied for longer because it takes longer to digest, but research now points to an anti-appetite molecule called acetate. It’s released when fiber is digested, and it tells the brain to suppress hunger.
Almonds pack a second punch when it comes to appetite, too. They are also a good source of plant-based protein. This essential macronutrient is also known to help us feel full and satisfied for longer.
Full of Healthy Fats
Some people still get spooked about foods with higher fat contents, but our bodies do actually need fats for energy and to support cell function. The key is to consume monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or “healthy” fats. So while almonds do contain fats, they are largely healthful unsaturated fats. These types of fats are associated with improved cholesterol levels and decreased inflammation in the body.
Almonds Promote Healthy Cells
Almonds contain relatively high levels of vitamin E, a family of fat-soluble antioxidants. These compounds tend to build up in cell membranes, protecting cells from oxidative damage and fighting premature aging.
There has been some speculation that vitamin E intake could be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and that vitamin E may play a role in reducing the risk of cancer. More studies will be needed to confirm these claims, though.
They Are Nutrient-Dense
Aside from the protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants I have already mentioned, these tasty snacks are slam-packed with micronutrients. Almonds contain calcium, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B), niacin (B3), copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin K, and zinc. We’re talking about good bone health, immune system health, energy production, the formation of red blood cells and collagen, and so much more.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Almonds may keep your ticker in tip-top shape, thanks in part to all those healthy fats. The unsaturated fats in almonds are good for your heart because they can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise your good (HDL) cholesterol.
It’s not just unsaturated fats that are helping your heart. A study from 2014 points to almonds for reducing blood pressure, increasing levels of antioxidants in the bloodstream and improving blood flow. The researchers believe it may be due not just to the healthy fats but also to vitamin E in almonds.
Moisturizing Dry Skin
It doesn’t stop with snacking, either. Almonds can provide benefits even if you don’t eat them. The nutrients found in almonds are good for our skin, too. I’ve seen almond oil pop up as an ingredient in tons of skincare products, especially lotions for dry skin. Healthy fats help to keep skin feeling supple, while vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that can help with UV damage. Vitamin A is another perk, acting as an exfoliant that improves tone, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Adding Shine to Dull Hair
The healthy fats, protein, and other nutrients in almond oil aren’t just good for your skin – they are really good for your hair, too. Almond oil will strengthen hair, making it less prone to breakage and split ends. Almond oil is also an emollient, which is a key ingredient in a moisturizer. It will keep your hair soft and smooth and repair damage.
It’s also worth noting that eating almonds may help your hair health, too. The copper in almonds plays a role in skin and hair pigmentation. Plus, some of the healthy fats present in almonds promote blood flow that helps with hair growth, and the vitamins are also helpful for hair strength.
The Fun Part: Recipes!
I know I already talked about using sliced almonds on my salads, but that’s definitely not the only way to get this superfood into your diet. If you’ve only ever used almonds as a simple salad topping, you’ve been underestimating them! From breakfast to dinner to dessert and everywhere in between, almonds are ready for their spotlight.
Banana Almond Butter Smoothie
Not only is this smoothie delicious, it’s also pretty nutritious! And if you don’t count the ice, it only requires three ingredients. This one calls for almond butter and almond milk, which go great with bananas. Toss ‘em all in the blender, and you’re good to go! That’s the kind of recipe I like best.
Check out the recipe here: Banana Almond Butter Smoothie
Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower and Almond Soup
This North African soup is comfort in a bowl. It is smooth, slightly spicy, and very satisfying. Serve it with a side salad and crusty bread, and you’ve got the kind of lunch or dinner that will warm you up on a cold winter day.
Check out the recipe here: Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower and Almond Soup
Grain Free Applesauce Pancakes
Almonds have been a go-to for anyone adhering to a grain-free diet because almond flour is the perfect substitute for regular flour. But you don’t have to be gluten-free or grain-free to enjoy these pancakes! With applesauce, almond meal, and maple syrup, these healthy and hearty pancakes will get you going in the morning.
Check out the recipe here: Grain Free Applesauce Pancakes
Almond Crusted Trout With Dill
Did you know that almonds make for great breading? It makes the crust extra-crispy and adds that toasty, nutty flavor that pairs so well with fish fillets. Roughly chop them and mix them in with whole wheat panko breadcrumbs to create this almond-crusted trout. It’s an easy, foolproof way to create a delicious dinner! This recipe calls for trout fillets, but you can also use flounder, tilapia, cod, halibut, and other fish as well.
Check out the recipe here: Almond Crusted Trout With Dill
Peach Cobbler Dump Cake
There are tons of dessert recipes out there that utilize almonds because they pair really well with sweet ingredients. I decided to include this peach cobbler dump cake, though, because I’m a sucker for easy-peasy dishes. And it doesn’t get any easier than a dump cake, right? Despite how quickly you can throw this dessert together, it definitely doesn’t lack in the flavor department. With the almonds on top, it ends up with a tasty, crisp topping to contrast the sweet, soft cake inside.
Check out the recipe here: Peach Cobbler Dump Cake