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Are Almonds Really Good for You?

By Lisa Porter

Eating almonds and other nuts as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to USDA’s MyPlate.gov. Almonds provide a good source of antioxidants and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Like other nuts, almonds have a high calorie content, so consume them in moderation.

Cholesterol

Almonds, walnuts and other nuts may help reduce your cholesterol. Research has shown that healthy diets that include nuts can reduce LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol by 9 to 20 percent, according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Almonds contain healthy unsaturated fats, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. A 1 oz. serving of almonds has 14 g of fat, including only 1.1 g of saturated fat as well as 3.4 g of polyunsaturated fat and 8.8 g of monounsaturated fat. Almonds contain no cholesterol.

Antioxidants

Almonds and other tree nuts provide good sources of antioxidant phytochemicals, including phytosterols, phenolic acids, flavonoids and carotenoids. These phytochemicals have antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to a September 2008 article in the “Journal of Nutrition.” Almonds also provide a good source of vitamin E, another antioxidant nutrient. With 7.4 mg of vitamin E per 1-oz. serving, almonds contain more of this nutrient than Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios or walnuts.

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Vitamins and Minerals

Almonds are good sources of a variety of essential minerals. A 1-oz. serving provides 200 mg of potassium, 76 mg of magnesium, 0.9 mg of zinc, 0.3 mg of copper, 75 mg of calcium and 1.1 mg of iron. Almonds are also a good source of B vitamins. A 1-oz. serving contains 14 micrograms of folate, 0.3 mg of riboflavin and 1.0 mg of niacin. Almonds contain more riboflavin, niacin and calcium than Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

Fiber

Almonds provide 3.5 g of dietary fiber per 1-oz. serving. Fiber plays an important role in healthy bowel function, and can help fill you up with fewer calories. Healthy diets rich in fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis and constipation. Adults should get 20 to 30 g of fiber per day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Recommendations

Consume almonds and other nuts in moderation to avoid adding too many calories to your diet. A 1-oz serving of almonds contains about 163 calories. Caloric excess can contribute to weight gain, increasing your risk of obesity-related diseases. Substitute almonds for other protein sources rather than adding them to your usual diet, recommends USDA’s MyPlate.gov. A 1-oz serving of almonds contains 6 g of protein. Choose unsalted and unsweetened almonds to avoid consuming excess sodium and added sugar.

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