Most almond cultivation in the U.S. occurs in California. There are two types of almonds, bitter and sweet. Bitter almonds are commonly used to make almond extracts and almond liqueurs, while sweet almonds are eaten. Bitter almonds, which contain a small amount of prussic acid, a powerful toxin, are illegal in the U.S., even though heating the almonds destroys the acid. Almonds are highly caloric, but, in moderation, they make a nutritious addition to your diet.
A 1-ounce serving of unsalted dry-roasted almonds contains approximately 169 calories, 23 percent of the daily value of fat, 12 percent of the DVs of protein and fiber and 2 percent of the DV of carbohydrates. Unsalted dry-roasted peanuts have little sodium and no cholesterol.
Almonds are a rich source of protein. When the body metabolizes protein, it breaks it down into amino acids. Amino acids play vital roles in cell formation, repair and maintenance and are essential to healthy fetal, childhood and adolescent growth and development. Amino acids fall into three different categories: essential, nonessential and conditional. Your body can produce its own nonessential and conditional amino acids, unless it's stressed by illness, in which case it may need a secondary source of conditional amino acids. Your body does not produce essential amino acids, so you must get them from your diet. Almonds supply every nonessential amino acid and a large portion of the conditional ones. Almonds' protein-to-carbohydrate ratio makes them an excellent nutritional choice for people following low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.
Fat accounts for 79 percent of the calories in almonds, but heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats make up almost 88 percent of this fat. Saturated fat increases cholesterol levels and the risk for cardiovascular disease and may increase the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, but mono and polyunsaturated fats work in reverse, lowing cholesterol and reducing disease risk.
A 1-ounce serving of almonds supplies 20 percent of the adult male recommended dietary allowance for magnesium. Magnesium contributes to muscle, bone, nerve and immune health and helps the body maintain a regular heart beat. There is some evidence to suggest that magnesium may help lower the risks of developing high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
One ounce of almonds provides 43 percent of the RDA for vitamin E for adult males. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin that is essential to immune function, cell signaling and gene expression. Vitamin E may also help prevent stroke risk by widening vessels and reducing blood clotting factors. Vitamin E's antioxidant properties may help lower the risks of cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.
- Epicurious Food Dictionary: Amonds
- USDA National Agricultural Library Full Report: Nutrient Data for 12063, Nuts, Almonds, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Protein In Diet - All Information
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E
Christine Gray began writing professionally in 1997, when a trade publishing company hired her as an assistant editor. She wrote her first screenplay in 1998 and has been covering health and nutrition since 2009. Gray graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Michigan.