Almonds are the edible seeds of Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree.
They are native to the Middle East, but the US is now the world’s largest producer.
The almonds you can buy in stores usually have the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside. They are sold either raw or roasted.
They are also used to produce almond milk, oil, butter, flour or paste — also known as marzipan.
Almonds boast an impressive nutrient profile. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds contains (1):
- Fiber: 3.5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated)
- Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
- Manganese: 32% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
- They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.
This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates.
It is important to note that your body does not absorb 10–15% of their calories because some of the fat is inaccessible to digestive enzymes (2, 3).
Almonds are also high in phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed.
While phytic acid is generally considered a healthy antioxidant, it also slightly reduces the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you get from almonds.
Almonds are a fantastic source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in your cells and contribute to inflammation, aging and diseases like cancer .
The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin.
For this reason, blanched almonds — those with skin removed — are not the best choice from a health perspective.
A clinical trial in 60 male smokers found that about 3 ounces (84 grams) of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23–34% over a four-week period .
These findings support those of another study which found that eating almonds with main meals reduced some markers of oxidative damage