Yes, almonds are Paleo!
Almonds are edible seeds of the fruit of the almond tree that are native to Middle East and South Asia. It is often eaten on its own and can be raw or roasted. Almonds are widely used as a snack, milk, syrup, oil and flour. It can be used as ingredients in desserts too.
Almonds are off white in color with brownish covering and hard shell. There are 2 types of almonds, sweet and bitter. The sweet almonds are the ones consumed. They are oval in shape with a malleable texture and buttery taste. They can be bought with or without its shell. They can be whole, sliced, slivered or blanched. The bitter almonds are ones used to make almond oil. Almond oil is used as flavouring agent for food. Bitter almonds are broader and shorter than sweet almonds.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almond as a snack is a nutrient dense food and is a rich source of niacin, vitamin E and other essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. It is also a good source of B vitamins, fiber, folate, thiamine and potassium. Almonds are good source of monounsaturated fats too.
Antioxidants and Vitamin E
Almonds have powerful antioxidants and Vitamin E that can protect the cells from oxidative damage which is a major contributor to aging and heart diseases. These antioxidants are concentrated on the brown layer of the skin of the almonds and can prevent oxidation f cholesterol. Almonds are known to be one of the best sources of vitamin E which are linked to lower rates of heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Magnesium in almonds are high and can be beneficial in the prevention of metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes. Magnesium helps in regulating blood sugar. In addition, low magnesium levels are concurrent to high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Regulation
Almonds contain significant amounts of potassium which helps n regulating blood pressure. It also has lower sodium levels which are beneficial in controlling fluctuating blood pressure.
Lower Levels of Cholesterol
Almonds have high concentration of monounsaturated fats which are associated with lower levels of cholesterol.
Almonds contain linoleic acids which aid in reducing inflammation.
Weight Loss and Maintenance
Because almonds are low in calories, they are effective in maintaining and losing weight. Eating almonds can increase satiety. Fiber in almonds contributes to to consistent bowel movement and is associated in weight loss.
Manganese, Copper and Riboflavin play a role in energy production. All of these minerals are present in almonds.
Concerns with Almonds
It is true that almonds are high in phytic acid, a substance that binds with other minerals to make them less bioavailable. The phytic acids in almonds are about 1200- 1400 in every 100 grams. But it is to note that almonds are consumed as snack and not as replacement for a complete meal. People don’t really rely on eating almonds and other nuts for nutrition. Also, some phytic acids can be broken down or eliminated by soaking and roasting.
Another concern with regard to eating almonds is that it is moderately high in Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat which is likely to contribute to chronic and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. Almonds, among all other nuts have the worst ratio of omega 3 to 6. It doesn’t mean that you cannot eat almonds because of this. It can still be considered as garnish than a regular.
Nuts including almonds are one of the most allergenic foods. Symptom may include skin rash, hivesm itching, swelling of lips, tongue or mouth, nasal congestion, dizziness and difficulty in breathing. People who have chronic allergies or autoimmune disease such as Chron’s must limit or avoid consumption.
Almonds and all other nuts are Paleo. With all the concerns that arise with the consumption of almonds, they pretty much offer health benefits. And to reiterate, nuts such as almonds are not eaten to replace a meal but as snack instead.
Some people may or may not tolerate nuts and seeds and so one must be careful when eating it. Also keep in mind that too much of something may result to negative effects. :)
What Experts Say About Almonds… Is It Paleo?
“Nuts can indeed be a part of the Paleo Diet when eaten in moderation: “in moderation” being the key takeaway message. Surprisingly, almonds, which we see in abundance in many forms and varieties, have one of the worst Omega 3:6 ratios, with virtually no detectable Omega-3s!” – Dr. Loren Cordain
“You don’t see any studies examining the effect of almond intake on mineral bioavailability because nobody’s relying on almonds for their nutrition”. – Mark Sisson
“100 grams of almonds contains between 1,200 – 1,400 mg of phytic acid. 100g is about 3 ounces. That’s equal to a large handful”. – Chris Kresser
All you ever wanted to know about Almonds and Paleo
The Paleo Diet. Going Nuts: All the Bolts
The Paleo Diet. Phytate Content Within Nuts
Mark’s Daily Apple. Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?
Chris Kresser. Another reason you shouldn’t go nuts on nuts
Paleo Leap. Are Almonds Paleo?
Paleo Leap. Are Nuts and Seeds Healthy?
Paleo Porn. Are Almonds Paleo?
Paleo Flip. Nuts: which ones to eat and which ones to avoid
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Almonds
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photo credit: Almonds!