Almonds might be the single most popular snack in America. According to some estimates, Americans consume 10 times as many almonds as they did back in 1965. The reasons behind the explosion in almond consumption are not a big mystery—they're tasty, they're convenient and they've become synonymous with healthy eating. But do you really know the powers of the almond? Odds are, the benefits of this tree nut are even greater than you imagine. Here are six reasons you should eat almonds every day.
1. Almonds Aid in Appetite Control
One serving of almonds (about 23 kernels) packs a hefty 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, equivalent to 14 percent of your daily value. When it comes to beneficial nutrients, it's hard to top the wonderful effects of fiber.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber can help normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, maintain bowel health and aid in achieving a healthy weight. The Harvard School of Public Health states that fiber appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
One of the most interesting effects of fiber is that it slows down digestion, which helps you feel full longer after you eat. This can be a great benefit for people who want to cut calories and lose weight—or for anyone looking for an afternoon snack to hold them over until dinner. A 2013 study found eating almonds as a snack effectively reduced hunger throughout the day.
2. Almonds Prevent Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is the term used to describe what happens when the body is not properly equipped to fight off free radicals. High amounts of oxidative stress can have a wide range of ill effects on the human body, including increased cell damage and a higher risk of disease. One way to prevent oxidative stress? Consume foods highs in antioxidants.
Almonds (and particularly almond skins) are a great source of antioxidants and have been proven to combat oxidative stress. In a 2007 study, researchers discovered that consuming 84 grams (roughly 3 ounces) of almonds daily helped smokers "enhance antioxidant defenses and diminish biomarkers of oxidative stress."
3. Almonds Fend Off Magnesium Deficiency
One serving of almonds contains 19 percent of your daily value of magnesium. Magnesium might be the most under-appreciated mineral. Every organ in the body needs it to function properly. However, the National Institute of Health reports that the average American consistently consumes less than the recommended amount.
Low levels of dietary magnesium have been associated with a huge range of unfavorable health outcomes, including asthma, depression, diabetes and heart failure. Magnesium also plays a crucial role in energy production, making it a critical mineral for athletes who want to perform their best.
4. Almonds Improve Skin and Hair Health
Almonds are absolutely bursting with biotin. A single serving contains over 50 percent of your daily value. Biotin (also known as vitamin H) helps a number of bodily processes, but perhaps its most prominent role is aiding in the formation of healthy skin and hair.
In addition to skin conditions such as dermatitis, a deficiency in biotin can lead to an unhealthy scalp and brittle, thinning hair. Since just a single serving of almonds contains over half your daily requirement, they're a fantastic food for keeping your skin and hair strong, healthy and beautiful.
5. Almonds Melt Away Belly Fat
Many people find shedding excess belly fat incredibly difficult. It's not just a matter of wanting a beach body, either—excess belly fat puts you at a higher risk for heart disease. If you're looking for a food that can help you lose that stubborn belly jiggle, almonds are your answer.
A 2015 study discovered that consuming 1.5 ounces of almonds a day not only helped overweight participants improve their cholesterol profile, it also significantly reduced their "central adiposity"—a.k.a. belly fat. The result: participants slimmed their midsections and reduced their risk of heart disease.
6. Almonds Help Your Heart Thrive
Here's a simple equation: eating more almonds equals a healthier heart. That sounds like a simple claim, but the research backs it up.
A 2009 article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed a number of studies on the topic and concluded that the average participant lowered their risk of death from heart disease by 8.3 percent with a weekly serving of nuts.
Why are almonds so great for your heart? It likely has a lot to do with their high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Also known as "good fats," they have been shown to have a significant positive impact on cholesterol. A better cholesterol profile greatly reduces the risk of blocked arteries, the biggest culprit behind heart attacks and strokes.