Almonds are a nutrition powerhouse. Just 57 grams (about 2 handfuls of almonds) contains 12 grams of protein, 17 grams of monounsaturated fat, 6.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 6.6 grams of fiber. This same serving size also provides a 96% daily value of vitamin E, 36% daily value of Magnesium, 1.4 grams of amino acid arginine, and 1.75 grams of branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine).
Some of the benefits of almonds in clinical trials have been a reduction in insulin resistance, LDL, C-reactive protein (CRP), and other biomarkers of inflammation. Almonds are even linked to reduced levels of depression via their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Can Eating Almonds be the Key to Faster Workout Recovery?
In the most recent study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers conducted a 4-week, randomized trial with 38 men and 26 women, ages 30-65. The participants did not engage in regular weight training. Half the participants were randomly assigned to the almond diet group, where they consumed 57 grams of almonds daily for 4 weeks. The other half served as a calorie-matched control.
After 4 weeks, researchers had the participants perform 90 minutes of eccentric exercise to create muscle damage, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), and inflammation. After the first day of recovery, the participants in the almond group had less muscle damage, less fatigue, and retained more leg-back isometric strength.
The almond group also had a 69% increase in 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid (12, 13 diHOME). 12, 13 diHOME is a compound linked with reduced insulin resistance, increased absorption of fatty acids by brown adipose tissue, increased cardiac function, and stimulated browning of white adipose tissue.
Aside from almonds, cold exposure and regular exercise have also been shown to increase 12,13-diHOME.
The take message here is that almonds should be of our diets whether we are seasoned athletes or weekend warriors.
Nieman DC, et al. Almond intake alters the acute plasma dihydroxy-octadecenoic acid (DiHOME) response to eccentric exercise. Front. Nutr. 2023;doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.1042719.
Rajaram S, Connell KM, Sabaté J. Effect of almond-enriched high-monounsaturated fat diet on selected markers of inflammation: a randomised, controlled, crossover study. Br J Nutr. 2010 Mar;103(6):907-12. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992480. Epub 2009 Oct 29. PMID: 19874636.
Fernández-Rodríguez R, Jiménez-López E, Garrido-Miguel M, Martínez-Ortega I, Martínez-Vizcaíno V, Mesas A. Does the evidence support a relationship between higher levels of nut consumption, lower risk of depression, and better mood state in the general population? A systematic review. Nutr Rev. (2022) 80:2076–88. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuac022