Almond nutrition, oil, health benefit

April 20 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Other Names: Almond Oil, Badam, Mandel, Prunus amygdalus dulcis

Almonds have long been used as food by humans, animals, and birds. These nuts contain protein and certain minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Due to their relatively high fat content, however, most nuts, including almonds, are also relatively high in calories, but, they may be satiating, meaning that eating almonds, even if high in calories, may make you feel full. Several human and animal studies that were conducted in the last few years have found that replacing animal fat in the diet with either almonds or almond oil produced reductions in total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides. In addition, levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the “good” cholesterol remained relatively constant. In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed packages of almonds and other nuts to begin carrying a modified health claim – “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
   On average each almond has about 6 calories.


Almond Oil use

Sweet almond oil is used topically to moisturize dry skin, soothe chapped lips, and relieve itching due to dryness. Because sweet almond oil is not greasy, it is absorbed quickly. An especially mild oil, sweet almond oil generally does not irritate skin and it does not appear to cause sensitization that may lead to allergic reactions. Occasionally, sweet almond oil is taken by mouth for a mild laxative effect.


Almond oil composition
An almond tree grown in different parts of the country or in different countries will have different fatty acid composition. In a study done in the country of China, almond oil was found to have the foe following fatty acids: Major fatty acids are found to be about 68% oleic acid (C18:1), 25% linoleic acid (C18:2), 4% palmitic acid (C16:0) and a little of palmitoleic acid (C16:1), stearic acid (C18:0). A trace of arachidic acid (C20:0) was also found. Almonds are a good source of antioxidant nutrients.


Almond content of beneficial substances - health benefit
Almonds Decrease Postprandial Glycemia, Insulinemia, and Oxidative Damage in Healthy Individuals. J Nutr. 2006.
Fifteen healthy subjects ate 2 bread control meals and 3 test meals: almonds and bread; parboiled rice; and instant mashed potatoes, balanced in carbohydrate, fat, and protein, using butter and cheese. Glycemic indices for the rice (38) and almond meals (55) were less than for the potato meal, as were the postprandial areas under the insulin concentration time curve. No postmeal treatment differences were seen in total antioxidant capacity. However, the serum protein thiol concentration increased following the almond meal, indicating less oxidative protein damage, and decreased after the control bread, rice, and potato meals. Almonds are likely to lower this risk by decreasing the glycemic excursion and by providing antioxidants. These actions may relate to mechanisms by which nuts are associated with a decreased risk of CHD.


Determination of flavonoids and phenolics and their distribution in almonds.
J Agric Food Chem. 2006. Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
We determined total phenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids in California almond (Prunus dulcis) skins and kernels among the principal almond varieties (Butte, Carmel, Fritz, Mission, Monterey, Nonpareil, Padre, and Price). Total phenols ranged from 127 (Fritz) to 241 (Padre) mg gallic acid equivalents/100 g of fresh weight. The analyses were compiled to produce a data set of 18 flavonoids and three phenolic acids. The predominant flavonoids were isorhamnetin-3-O-rutinoside and isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside (in combination), catechin, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside, epicatechin, quercetin-3-O-galactoside, and isorhamnetin-3-O-galactoside at 16, 2, 1, 0.8, 0.8, and 0.5 mg/100 g of fresh weight almonds, respectively. Using the existing approach of calculating only the aglycone form of flavonoids for use in the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrient database, whole almonds would provide the most prevalent aglycones of isorhamnetin at 11.70 (3.32), kaempferol at 0.60 (0.17), catechin at 1.93 (0.55), Quercetin at 0.7 (0.20), and epicatechin at 0.85 mg/100 g of fresh weight (mg/oz serving), respectively.


Almond and Diet - Almond health benefit

Long-term almond supplementation without advice on food replacement induces favourable nutrient modifications to the habitual diets of free-living individuals.
Br J Nutr. 2004. Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, CA
The present study evaluated the impact of long-term almond supplementation in healthy men and women aged 25-70 years on nutrient profile and nutrient displacement. All subjects were followed for 1 year. During the first 6 months, subjects followed their habitual diets; in the second 6 months, subjects added almonds to their diets. Diets were assessed by seven random 24 h telephone diet recalls during each diet period. On average, the almond supplement was 52 g/d (about forty-two nuts) containing 1286 kJ. When subjects changed from their habitual diet to the almond- supplemented diet, the intakes of MUFA, PUFA, fibre, vegetable protein, alpha-tocopherol, Cu and Mg significantly increased by 42, 24, 12, 19, 66, 15 and 23% respectively; the intakes of trans fatty acids, animal protein, Na, cholesterol and sugars significantly decreased by 14, 9, 21, 17 and 13% respectively. These spontaneous nutrient changes closely match the dietary recommendations to prevent cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. Displacement estimates for total energy, total protein, total fat, SFA, MUFA, PUFA, total fibre, Ca, Fe, magnesium, P, K, Zn and alpha-tocopherol ranged from 16 to 98%; the estimates for total food weight, carbohydrate, sugars and Se were >245%. A daily supplement of almonds can induce favourable nutrient modifications for chronic disease prevention to an individual's habitual diet.


Br J Nutr. 2014. Effect of almond consumption on the serum fatty acid profile: a dose-response study. Consumption of almonds has been shown to be associated with a decreased risk of CHD, which may be related to their fatty acid composition. The results of the present study indicate that almond consumption increases oleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids content in serumkj, which are inversely associated with CHD lipid risk factors and overall estimated 10-year CHD risk.


Q. Is it better to eat an almond raw or roasted ( toasted )?
   A. I think there is little doubt that raw almonds have a healthier fatty acid composition. The higher the temperature these nuts are exposed to, the more damage that occurs to the fatty acids. If possible, consider raw organic almonds.


Almond and Obesity

Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program.
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003. City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA
To evaluate the effect of an almond- enriched (high monounsaturated fat, MUFA) or complex carbohydrate-enriched (high carbohydrate) formula-based low-calorie diet (LCD) on anthropometric, body composition and metabolic parameters in a weight reduction program. Our findings suggest that an almond- enriched LCD improves a preponderance of the abnormalities associated with the metabolic syndrome. Both dietary interventions were effective in decreasing body weight beyond the weight loss observed during long-term pharmacological interventions; however, the almond -LCD group experienced a sustained and greater weight reduction for the duration of the 24-week intervention. Almond supplementation of a formula-based LCD is a novel alternative to self-selected complex carbohydrates and has a potential role in reducing the public health implications of obesity.


Almond and Vitamin E

Almonds in the diet simultaneously improve plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations and reduce plasma lipids.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2005. School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science, California State University, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
The objective of this study was to assess the dose-response effect of almond intake on plasma and red blood cell tocopherol concentrations in healthy adults enrolled in a randomized, crossover feeding trial. Participants were 16 healthy men and women, aged 41+/-13 years. After a 2-week run-in period, participants were fed three diets for 4 weeks each: a control diet, a low- almond diet, and a high- almond diet, in which almonds contributed 0%, 10%, and 20% of total energy, respectively. A significant dose-response effect was observed between percent energy in the diet from almonds and plasma ratio of alpha-tocopherol to total cholesterol.


Almond Milk option

The almond milk: a new approach to the management of cow-milk allergy / intolerance in infants.
Minerva Pediatr. 2005. Department of Paediatric Science, University of Messina, Italy.

Elimination of the offending food is imperative in the management of children with cow-milk allergy / intolerance (CMA/CMI). Herein we report the result of randomized clinical trial carried out to test the efficacy and safety of a new almond -based food (hereinafter named almond milk) in a group of infant with CMI/CMA. Conclusion: Though preliminary, the present findings seem to demonstrate that almond milk may be an efficacious substitute of cow milk in infants with CMA/CMI. One could speculate that some active principles contained in the almond milk could contribute to its beneficial effect observed in CMI/CMA-affected infants.

Benzaldehyde and almond scent

Benzaldehyde is a chemical compound consisting of a benzene ring with an aldehyde substituent. It is the simplest representative of the aromatic aldehydes and one of the most industrially used members of this family of compounds. At room temperature it is a colorless liquid with a characteristic and pleasant almond -like odor: benzaldehyde is an important component of the scent of almonds, hence its typical odor. It is the primary component of bitter almond oil extract, and can be extracted from a number of other natural sources in which it occurs, such as apricot, cherry, and laurel leaves, peach seeds and, in a glycoside combined form (amygdalin), in certain nuts and kernels.