Antioxidants in almonds keep your arteries clean

Nuts are nutrient-rich – they contain a spectrum of micronutrients including LDL-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine, minerals - potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and antioxidants including phenols, resveratrol, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids.

Nuts, and almonds in particular, are some of the most beneficial foods for decreasing heart disease risk: 

  • A 2009 meta-analysis confirmed that almond consumption of at least 25 g per day (about 1 ounce) is associated with a 7 mg/dL decrease in total cholesterol.1 
  • Collectively, the data from the four most recent U.S. studies estimates that Americans who eat five or more servings of nuts per week have a 35% reduced risk of coronary heart disease.2 

There are many potential mechanisms by which nuts might exert these beneficial effects on heart health – the dramatic decrease in heart disease risk from nut consumption can’t be explained by cholesterol lowering alone. Scientists are now investigating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of nuts for their potential cardioprotective effects.

Almonds may have powerful antioxidant activity, in addition to their cholesterol-lowering activity. As well as their vitamin E, the skins of almonds contain a large and varied collection of phenol antioxidants. 

A study of hyperlipidemic individuals fed either almonds or a snack with a similar fatty acid profile each day for 4 weeks compared markers of oxidative stress in these two groups. The subjects fed almonds showed reductions in markers of oxidative stress.3 

This alleviation of oxidative stress was reflected in reduces serum levels of oxidized LDL.4 Since oxidation renders LDL more likely to be taken up by inflammatory cells, oxidized LDL is more dangerous in relation to atherosclerotic plaque formation. The synergistic effects of the healthy fats, antioxidants, and surely many other phytochemicals in almonds help to prevent this early and important step in the development of atherosclerosis. Though this study was reported on almonds, other nuts and seeds have similar marked effects that protect the heart.   



1. Phung OJ, Makanji SS, White CM, Coleman CI. Almonds have a neutral effect on serum lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 May;109(5):865-73.

2. Kris-Etherton PM et al. The Role of Tree Nuts and Peanuts in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease: Multiple Potential Mechanisms. J. Nutr. 138: 1746S–1751S, 2008.

3. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Almonds Reduce Biomarkers of Lipid Peroxidation in Older Hyperlipidemic Subjects. J. Nutr. 138: 908–913, 2008.

USDA/Agricultural Research Service (2008, November 4). Antioxidant Effects From Eating Almonds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2010, from /releases/2008/10/081031213057.htm

4. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 2002;106:1327–32.


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Paul - March 5, 2010 1:17 PM

Thanks for the update Deana. It corroborates what Dr. Fuhrman has been saying. A couple of comments. One is just a reminder that for those of us trying to lose weight, Dr. Fuhrman recommends an upper limit of one ounce per day. The article above saying at least one ounce ... is associated with lowering cholesterol, etc. Probably, the other point when selecting your fat source is to be sure to balance your omega 3/6 ratio. Almonds are mostly Omega 6 if I recall. Adding some walnuts, flax seed or chia seed will help to balance the ratio.


Amanya Jacobs - March 5, 2010 2:48 PM

Very interesting article on nuts, almonds in particular. Most helpful information for me since I love almonds. Thanks!

Linda - March 5, 2010 3:19 PM

I've heard a lot about that you must soak nuts and seeds to rid them of enzyme inhibitors for them to be beneficial. Is this true?

Helen Parkinson - March 5, 2010 3:50 PM

This is all very well but what about the break down of the oils in nuts?

From my experience the oils in nuts go rancid really quickly and unless I am able to eat only nuts that are home grown and that I have shelled myself then I invariably end up with bad stomach cramps.

I live in New Zealand and the climate where we are only allows for walnuts and hazel nuts and some almonds. At the moment we only have a walnut that produces enough to full fill this dietary recommendation of nuts.

How to I get around this issue so that I can have this recommended weekly intake of nuts?

shels - March 5, 2010 8:58 PM

Is is okay to eat lots of almonds? I always associate them as lots of fat and fat is fat, regardless.

Vladimir - March 11, 2010 3:15 PM

Nice quality picture and the article, good and beneficial, I like it.

MAC - March 15, 2010 12:29 PM

Helen: we've always frozen large bags of nuts. Because of the high fat content, they don't become rock-hard and are perfectly edible right out of the freezer (which keeps them fresh). Of course they thaw in minutes as well, if you don't like them cold. Hope this is helpful.

Helen Parkinson - March 15, 2010 2:57 PM

Yes that is helpful to a point although the issue is not really keeping them once I have bought them but how old they are before I managed to purchase them. Even oils in organic nuts go rancid and one never knows how long it is since they have been harvested.
Thanks for the suggestion however. :)

Do - April 10, 2010 10:23 AM

Is ionized water recommended - instead of using tap water?

Helen Ogden - November 19, 2010 1:32 PM

I have heard contradictory reports on whether roasted nuts still have the desired healthful properties of raw nuts. Anyone have the answer?

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