We take a closer look at the amazing super-food, the almond, which has been enjoying a renaissance lately.

Photo: mynameisharsha/Flickr
Almonds are enjoying a new wave of popularity thanks to a variety of almond-based spin-offs: almond milk, almond butter, almond flour and other almond alternatives. All of them are now available in mainstream supermarkets, not just health food stores.
Let’s examine some almond nutrition facts and see if they’re all that they’re cracked up to be.
Almonds have the following daily values (assuming a daily diet of 2,000 calories; measures are based on one ounce or about 20 almonds):
  • 14 grams of fat (21 percent daily value)
  • 6 grams of carbohydrates (3 grams from fiber; 14 percent DV of fiber)
  • Protein 6 grams (approximately 12 percent of DV, depending on individual needs)
Vegetarians delight in the high protein content of almond butter. But almond butter is an incomplete protein, meaning it lacks all the essential amino acids.
Combining with another food that complements the amino acid profile will help vegetarians possibly feel fuller for longer and avoid incomplete proteins perhaps being converted into carbohydrates.
But some fat-phobic discerning dieters who peruse every nutritional label like a hawk might shriek at just a handful of almonds as having so much fat.
They need not freak out and avoid almonds: the fat comprised in almonds are healthy fats, protecting cell walls and possibly even helping burn excess body fat.
Now for some of the vitamin and mineral standout components of almonds:
  • Vitamin E : a whopping 37 percent of DV; good for cellular integrity and skin)
  • Riboflavin: 17 percent; aka Vitamin B-2, essential for proper metabolism and way too many other health benefits to mention
  • Manganese: 32 percent DV; possibly eliminates severity of PMS symptoms and depression, among other numerous benefits
  • Magnesium: 19 percent DV; might be helpful in preventing heart attacks
  • Phosphorous and Copper: 14 percent DV, each; help absorb other vitamins, essential for growth and metabolism
Still not impressed? Well, there’s more to love about the almond.
Whole almonds are praised for their high nutrient density of:
  • Cancer-fighting micronutrients
  • Other essential vitamins and minerals
  • High protein content
  • Healthy fats
  • Cholesterol-lowering properties
Some almond alternatives like almond milk, however, contain fortified nutrients. Many health experts say that whole foods are the best source of nutrition and that fortified foods are beneficial only if a person is having difficulty in obtaining the whole food source.
That doesn’t mean the almond alternatives don’t have their place. Some people who are allergic to certain foods will use almond-based products as alternatives. For example, someone who is allergic to cow’s milk can enjoy a bowl of cereal with almond milk instead. Similarly, those who are allergic to peanut butter can use almond butter when they want to make a protein smoothie.
It’s easy to see why almonds have been cultivated and enjoyed as a part of a healthy, whole-foods based diet for thousands of years.
Have an opinion about almonds and almond alternatives? Let us know below.
Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, California.

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