Surprising Health Benefits of Almonds for Immunity
Almonds for Your Immune System? Find Out Why The Answer Is A Big YES!
Did you know that almonds are the 2nd-most consumed nut in the world, after peanuts? That’s great news because almonds have incredible health benefits.
(Though, technically almonds are NOT nuts. They’re edible seeds that are the fruit of the almond tree.)
Consuming almonds drastically lowers the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Lowers unwanted cholesterol. And helps keep your blood pressure steady. All according to research.
You've likely heard that almonds are heart-healthy, due to their monounsaturated fat (the good kind). However, one of the most impressive benefits you may not have heard about is almonds for your immune system — and immunity is on all our minds these days.
There are many ways to enjoy almonds, yet there’s a critical reason you might be missing out on some key nutrition and benefits — not to mention, the taste and texture of the almonds you’ve been eating might not be as good as they can be.
I’ll explain. But first, let’s see why almonds are an excellent choice for boosting immunity.
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In this article:
- Almonds are rich in antioxidants
- Almond skin helps fight viruses
- Almonds help improve gut health, critical for immunity
- Why you should never blanch almonds
- The protein from almonds can aid immunity
- Almonds may even help the immune system fight cancer
- Why it’s important to seek out truly raw almonds
- How to find truly raw almonds
5 Reasons to Enjoy Almonds for Your Immune System
Almonds may be small in size, but they’re packed with essential nutrients. Including specific ones for boosting the immune system and fighting against disease and viruses.
1. Almonds Are Loaded with Health-Protecting Antioxidants and Minerals
Vitamins E and C, two antioxidants found in almonds, are natural immune boosters. They scavenge free radicals in your body, preventing DNA and tissue damage, and reducing unwanted inflammation.
You’ve heard about vitamin C, of course. But, vitamin E also plays a critical role in immune function. In a study, vitamin E supplementation was associated with a “significant improvement in resistance to influenza infection” in mice, and “a reduced risk of upper respiratory infections” in nursing home residents.
One thing about vitamin E is that it’s lipid-soluble, which means it’s best absorbed when paired with fat — making almonds a great way to get vitamin E, since they contain fat.
Almonds also have a healthy amount of phosphorus, zinc, and other minerals, which can help aid the immune system.
Two, in particular, are manganese and copper. When working together with vitamin E (which we’ve already seen almonds are rich in), these nutrients provide an impressive boost to the immune system.
2. Almond SKINS Help Fight Viruses
Almonds have vital nutrients in their pulp — and also in their skin.
Almond skins were found to stimulate white blood cell production, the body’s first response to fighting off viral pathogens.
Researchers tested natural and blanched almond skins to human white blood cells for 24 hours, then subjected the skins to different types of viruses for another 24 hours.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the natural almond skins fought the viruses, whereas the blanched almond skins did not.
Even after the almonds had been digested in the gut, the increased defense against viruses in the immune system remained.
They concluded that almond skins aid the immune system and may aid in antiviral protection. A review of this study and other research confirmed that almond skins have known properties.
3. Almonds Help Improve Gut Health, Which Boosts Immunity
Almonds are good for your gut. And in case you didn't know, a healthy gut is critical for immunity.
After all, 85% of your immune function exists in your gut, your “second brain.”
Consuming almonds and their skins was found, in an Institute of Food Science & Technology study, to boost a healthy gut — by serving as prebiotics, which help nurture the billions of good bacteria living in your gut.
Participants boosted amounts of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus after eating almonds or almond skins for 6 weeks. Those who ate almond skins experienced earlier and longer-lasting benefits for their guts.
The benefits only lasted while the participants ate almonds every day.
In a different study, college students were asked to snack on almonds or graham crackers. After 8 weeks, researchers observed that the almond eaters experienced important changes in their microbiome: a decrease in bacteria from pathogens and an increase in bacteria tied to positive outcomes.
Just why are almonds so good for the gut? Almonds have fiber, which is known to be excellent for digestion and gut health. They also contain polyphenols and other gut-healthy nutrients.
Why You Should Never Blanch Almonds!
Unfortunately, many people blanch almonds prior to using them, for baking and other uses. This process removes the skin, so almonds will be lighter in color.
However, you definitely shouldn’t blanch your almonds if you want the full benefits for your immune system, and for your gut.
4. Almonds Are a Good Source of Protein — Necessary for Healthy Immunity
Almonds are rich sources of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. And a deficiency of amino acids and dietary protein has been known to impair the immune system.
So getting enough protein (which actually isn’t difficult on a plant-focused, whole-foods diet) is another way almonds can help keep your natural immunity strong.
5. Almonds May Even Help the Immune System Fight Cancer
A high count of free radicals in the body causes DNA damage.
DNA damage to cells and tissues is linked to the development of cancer, as well as other health problems.
Almonds may be able to help! Almonds have L-arginine, a type of amino acid (a building block of protein) that may aid anti-tumor activity of immune cells.
L-arginine kickstarts macrophage activity in certain cells, which helps the immune system prevent and destruct tumors, according to a study.
The researchers also concluded that almonds can be considered “immunomodulators,” which means they affect the immune system.
Additionally, L-arginine has been found to enhance or preserve immune function in those who are immune-compromised.
Why It’s Important to Seek Out Truly Raw Almonds for Immunity and Other Benefits
Almonds and other nuts and seeds are rich sources of nutrients. But you must consume them raw and as freshly harvested as possible to gain all the benefits.
Soaking them helps even more. Because in their dry state, they can be difficult to digest, due to their enzyme inhibitors.
So it’s best to cover them with water and let them soak overnight in the fridge. This inactivates their enzyme inhibitors, makes them easier to digest, and makes their nutrients easier to absorb.
After soaking, you can dehydrate them to preserve nutrients and help them last longer.
How To Find Truly Raw Almonds — Because You Won’t Find Them at the Grocery Store!
All almonds you’ll find at grocery stores aren't raw. Even the ones that say they’re “raw.”
Why? Because in retail, “raw” simply means “not roasted.”
Regulations require all almonds to be pasteurized and fumigated, for commercial purposes. So, unless you have a direct connection to an almond grower, the almonds you find simply won’t be truly raw.
The heat process almonds are forced to undergo not only blunts the almond flavor, but it also kills enzymes and reduces some nutrients.
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How Many Almonds Are Good to Eat Every Day?
A serving of nuts is one ounce, about 23 almonds or ¼ cup. Consuming this much each day will allow you to take full advantage of the benefits this “nut” has to offer.
One ounce gives you about 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat (80% monounsaturated, 15% polyunsaturated, and 5% saturated), and 4 grams of filling fiber. Plus, half the daily target for vitamin E and 20% of magnesium. Awesome, right?
Almonds Boost Your Immune System, Plus More Benefits — Just Make Sure You Leave the Skins ON, And Choose Raw Almonds for the Best Natural Protection
Almonds have been used for medicinal purposes for a millenia. They’re even mentioned in the first book of the Bible as a prized food given as gifts. It’s no wonder when you look at their nutritional value!
To help strengthen your immune system naturally, much on almonds for a snack or add them to your meals — especially during the cooler months. Eating almonds regularly, and even every day, is your best bet, especially for immunity.
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.
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