While almonds that are coated in salt, chocolate or sugar aren't good for your health, plain almonds provide a number of beneficial nutrients that help keep your arteries healthy and lower your heart disease risk. Almonds don't raise your cholesterol -- in fact, they may actually help to lower it.
Effect on Cholesterol
Eating almonds may help lower your triglyceride levels, your low-density lipoprotein -- or bad cholesterol -- and your total cholesterol levels, according to a study published in "Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases" in June 2011. After adding almonds to their diet for six months, study participants had lower cholesterol levels than when they followed their regular diet without eating almonds.
Many of the nutrients in almonds are good for heart health, including fiber, unsaturated fat, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, arginine, phytosterols, alpha-tocopherol and copper. These nutrients may help to limit the amount of cholesterol absorbed by your body and increase the amount of cholesterol and bile your body excretes, thus lowering the overall amount of cholesterol in your body, according to an article published in "Nutrition Reviews" in April 2011.
Compared to Saturated Fat Reduction
Adding almonds to your diet may help you lower your total and LDL cholesterol more than decreasing the amount of saturated fat you consume, according to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism" in 2012. For the best cholesterol-lowering results, add almonds to your diet while decreasing total saturated fat consumption.
Although eating almonds may provide you with some health benefits, this isn't the case if you eat too many of them. Almonds are high in fat, and even though most of this fat is the healthy unsaturated type, this fat still provides a lot of calories and can lead to weight gain. Use almonds to replace other foods that are high in calories or fat, and stick to about a handful of almonds or other nuts per day to keep from consuming excess calories.
- MayoClinic.com: Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases: Influence of Body Mass Index and Serum Lipids on the Cholesterol-lowering Effects of Almonds in Free-living Individuals
- Nutrition Reviews: Effects of Almond Consumption on the Reduction of LDL-cholesterol: A Discussion of Potential Mechanisms and Future Research Directions
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: Is Almond Consumption More Effective Than Reduced Dietary Saturated Fat at Decreasing Plasma Total Cholesterol and LDL-c Levels? A Theoretical Approach
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.