What are almonds?

There are many varieties of almonds, some of which produce seeds with toxic properties for humans. Among all the varieties the sweet almonds produced by Prunus amygdalus communis are edible and are used in the production of various food products.

In addition to being used in sweets they are also common in savory dishes. Almonds are also used to produce a typical drink (almond milk), flour, syrup and ice.


What are the nutritional properties?

Eating 100g of almonds adds 603 Calories. These seeds are, in fact, poor in water (5.1% by weight) and carbohydrates (corresponding to only 2% of total calories) and high in lipids (83% of calorie intake). Among the carbohydrates present in 100 g of almonds there are 0.8g of starch, 3.7 g of soluble sugars and 12.7 g of fiber (12,04 g of which are insoluble and soluble 0.63 g). Among the lipids there are included both polyunsaturated fats (10.85%) and monounsaturated (39,44%) and saturated fat (4.59%), among which the palmitic acid. The most abundant fatty acids are however, oleic acid (monounsaturated) and alpha-linolenic acid (polyunsaturated). Cholesterol is absent. The remaining 15% of calories corresponds to proteins; the latter are particularly rich in arginine.


Among micronutrients, almonds are sources of:

  • vitamin E (26 mg in 100 g)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3 or PP, 3 mg in 100 g)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2, 0.4 mg in 100 g)
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1, 0.23 mg in 100 g)
  • potassium (780 mg in 100 mg)
  • phosphorus (550 mg in 100 g)
  • Magnesium (264 mg in 100 g)
  • Calcium (240 mg in 100 g)
  • iron (3 mg in 100 g)
  • zinc (2.5 mg in 100 g)


In 100 grams of almonds there are also 14 mg of sodium. These seeds are a source of phytic acid (1.28 g in 100 g), and phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol. Almonds also contain isolated antioxidants such as quercetin, isorhamnetin, quercitrin and kempferolo. Finally, almonds are a source of the amygdalin molecule also present in the seeds of apricots, cherries and plums.


When should you not eat almonds?

Concomitant ingestion of high doses of vitamin C and almonds can lead to the appearance of symptoms of cyanide intoxication.


Seasonality of almonds

The fruit of the almond trees are harvested in August and September. The seeds can be stored, however, and are available all year.


Possible benefits and contraindications

Almonds are used primarily as a dietary source of protein, unsaturated fats, minerals, vitamins (especially vitamin E) and phytonutrients. Among the possible benefits associated with their consumption is the improvement of the lipid profile, but only further clinical long-term studies will determine if it is indeed possible to improve the levels of fat in the blood by eating almonds. Currently the recommended intake of nuts is between 28.35 and 56.7 grams per day. In studies on the topic we have been using amounts of almonds varying between 25 and 168 g per day. Among other possible benefits that need to be further examined we include the management of type 2 diabetes and weight control.

Amygdalin was tested as an anticancer agent. However, there are no clinical studies that have confirmed the anti-tumor efficacy of amygdalin, and now the use of laetrile is prohibited in both the US and Europe while it is still promoted in Mexico, where it is often produced.

The main contraindication to almond consumption is the allergy of it. For the rest, cases of serious reactions similar to those of cyanide intoxication (sometimes fatal) have been associated with the consumption of bitter almond.