The almond is an ultra-healthy and energy-dense source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and a range of other nutrients that can improve your cardiovascular health, protect your DNA from damage, and even help you control your weight.
They are a great replacement for unhealthy snack foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and low in the healthy kinds of fats and fiber like almonds.
If you need a better snacking food, we’ve ranked the ten best almond brands according to quality. Read on for our rankings and for more on the science behind the health benefits of almonds.
1. We Got Nuts Jumbo Almonds
If you eat a lot of almonds on a regular basis, We Got Nuts Jumbo Almonds is the way to go.
This giant four-pound bag of almonds is unroasted and unsalted, and to top it off, the bag is easy to reseal. With all of these perks, it’s our top pick.
2. Ellie’s Best Raw Sweet Almonds
Ellie’s Best Raw Sweet Almonds comes in a three pound bag and uses a natural steam-based process to pasteurize their almonds instead of the chemical based process used in other almond brands.
If you are particularly conscious about the chemical contents of your almonds, Ellie’s Best is a great pick.
3. Blue Diamond Almonds Lightly Salted
Blue Diamond is in many ways the king of almond brands, but their best product is their lightly salted and roasted almonds.
For people with a taste for salty foods, it’s hard to satiate that in a way that’s healthy and doesn’t drive up your sodium intake too much.
hese roasted almonds are a perfect option if that’s the case for you. There are better options out there for raw almonds, but when it comes to roasted almonds, these are the best.
4. Sunbest Raw Almonds
Sunbest Raw Almonds are plain, simple, unroasted almonds.
These California grown almonds have no salt added and are pasteurized for safety, so if you aren’t too picky about the specifics and just want an easy source for unroasted almonds, it’s a great pick.
5. Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw Almonds
Trader Joe’s Nuts Raw Almonds are a great source of almonds for bulk users. They come in a plastic bag that’s not resealable, but all you need is a plastic container to keep these almonds fresh and they are a great addition to your pantry.
6. Wonderful Almonds
For quick and healthy snacking on the go, there’s no better option than Wonderful Almonds.
These individual 1.5 ounce packs are the perfect size to toss into your lunch box or keep in your car for a healthy snack.
7. Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Whole Almonds
Terrasoul Superfoods sells almonds that are as raw as it gets. These certified organic raw almonds are unpasteurized, meaning they retain all of the natural enzymes present when the almond is picked off the tree.
This also means that the raw almonds are sproutable at home if you want to make your own sprouted almonds.
People who are food safety conscious or people with children might want to choose a pasteurized product, though, because the pasteurization process also kills bacteria like salmonella.
8. Kirkland Signature Marcona Almonds
Kirkland Signature Marcona Almonds come from the marcona almond tree, which is native to Spain and produces a softer and sweeter almond than the classic California-grown almonds you are probably used to.
These almonds are great if you are looking for a change up from the usual taste and texture that you get in all of the other almonds on the market.
9. Happy Belly Whole Almonds
Happy Belly Whole Almonds is an in-house brand for Amazon that packages and sells California-grown and pasteurized almonds in a resealable two pound bag.
While these almonds aren’t the best-tasting, they are still an okay option for bulk users.
10. Mariani Sliced Premium Almonds
Pre-sliced almonds like Mariani’s are a good choice if you need a dead-simple and fast way to add almonds to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt.
However, pre-sliced almonds might not retain quite as much antioxidant power, since the surface area is increased, and more of the compounds inside the almond are exposed to oxygen. Still, for simplicity and ease, it’s not a bad pick.
Almond benefits and side effects
Almonds are the edible seed of the almond tree, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
While almond trees are native to the Middle East, America is now the top producer of almonds worldwide. These nuts are available both raw and roasted, and are usually purchased with the shell removed; if the package states almonds are “natural,” it means they’re raw.
A single ounce of almonds amounts to a small handful, and contains about 160 calories, with only 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat; you’ll also get roughly a third of the RDI for vitamin E and manganese, as well as 20% of the RDI for magnesium. (1)
Almonds contain zinc, calcium and iron as well, but the binding action of phytic acid inhibits the absorption of these minerals.
Let’s look at some of the nutritional benefits of including almonds in your diet.
Almonds Are an Excellent Source of Antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in living organisms, reducing oxidative damage by free radicals that can contribute to aging and the development of disease. (4, 5)
Most of the antioxidants in almonds are found in the outer layer of brownish skin, so blanched almonds with the skin removed won’t have as many antioxidants. (6)
Oxidative stress markers decreased by 23% to 34% in 60 male smokers who added 3 ounces of almonds daily to their diets over a month’s time. (7)
In another study, participants ate almonds with their main meal each day, reducing certain markers of oxidative stress during the trial. (8)
The vitamin E content of almonds can also protect cell membranes against oxidative damage; these fat-soluble antioxidants collect in membranes and are linked with lower rates for developing heart disease and cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. (9, 10, 11)
Almonds Help Regulate Blood Sugar And Protect Your Heart. The nutritional profile of almonds makes them a perfect food for diabetics. High fiber and protein content, coupled with healthy fats and low carbs, acts as a natural blood sugar regulator because it slows the inflow of glucose into your bloodstream.
Magnesium is vital for more than three hundred physical functions including the regulation of blood sugar, and is found in generous amounts in almonds. (12)
Studies show that up to 38% of patients with type 2 diabetes are magnesium deficient; correcting this problem has positive effects on insulin function, as well as dropping blood sugar levels. (13, 14)
Insulin resistance in diabetics also shows improvement when magnesium is added to the diet. (15)
Because almonds are rich in magnesium, adding them to the diet could act as a preventive measure for both type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Another medical condition positively affected by adequate magnesium supplies is hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Blood pressure can be reduced by correcting magnesium deficiency, and almonds are an excellent natural source of this important mineral. (18)
Almonds could also help reduce your cholesterol levels. Dietary choices have powerful effects on cholesterol levels, and studies show eating a handful or two of almonds daily can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Keeping the levels of this biomarker low is a major help for improving your heart health.
In a 4-month trial, 65 participants who were pre-diabetic dropped HDL cholesterol levels by 12.4 mg/dL through eating 20% of daily calories in almonds. (19)
Another controlled trial lasted six weeks, comparing changes in LDL cholesterol measurements of subjects who ate 1.5 ounces of almonds a day against those who didn’t.
LDL levels went down an average of 5.3 mg/dL while HDL cholesterol (the good kind) remained stable. The group eating almonds also reduced their belly fat. (20)
Almonds can trigger other positive changes in LDL cholesterol as well.
High ratios of oxidized LDL particles in serum lipid levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.
In a month-long study of subjects who snacked on almonds, levels of oxidized HDL cholesterol fell by 14%. (23)
This wide range of studies demonstrates that almonds have beneficial effects on blood pressure, which can probably be attributed to their high contents of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds Are a Weight-Loss Friendly Food. The unique nutritional profile of almonds can also help with weight control, which is perhaps surprising given that almonds are fairly energy-dense due to their relatively high fat content.
Almonds are low in carbs and high in both protein and fiber, which is the ideal combination for feeling satisfied after eating. These seem to more than offset the high energy density of almonds.
During a month-long study with more than a hundred participants, 1.5 ounces of almonds eaten over the course of the day decreased hunger levels, as well as the desire to eat. (26)
Other clinical trials confirm the satiating effects of tree nuts, including almonds, on appetite. (27)
Besides the fact that the body doesn’t absorb all the fat in almonds, it appears that there may be a metabolism-boosting effect as well. (28)
In some cases, the effects of eating almonds can be dramatic for weight loss.
One study indicated participants eating a low-calorie diet dropped 62% more weight when they ate 1.5 ounces of almonds daily than the control group who snacked on foods rich in complex carbohydrates. (29)
Another study with 100 overweight female subjects who included nuts in their diet supported these findings. Nuts appeared to contribute to more weight loss, and significant improvements in waist circumference and other important health markers were also noted. (30)
Even though almonds are fairly energy dense, their high fiber content and unsaturated fat levels makes them a great food to include in a weight loss routine.
Like all tree nuts, some people have allergies to almonds, and reactions can be life-threatening when severe. (31)
Almonds are one of the many foods that can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones due to the oxalate content. (32) Don’t eat too many almonds if you’ve had trouble with this health issue.
The phytic acid content of almonds can limit mineral absorption, but this effect is time-sensitive, so subsequent meals are not impacted. (33)
Binge eaters seem to have difficulty controlling nut consumption; if you’ve had trouble with this behavioral pattern, you may need to be careful with almonds.
Almonds are an excellent health-friendly snack food that make a great replacement for heavily salted and refined-carb rich foods like chips or popcorn. Almonds pack a strong nutritional punch thanks to their high antioxidant content, and help satisfy appetite, control blood sugar and improve health markers associated with heart disease.
On top of that, they could also be useful for weight control, thanks to their high fiber content in combination with their high levels of healthy fats. When it comes to natural snack foods, the almond is one of the best.