Almonds are considered to be one of the earliest domesticated tree nuts, and one of the most prized snacks in the world.  Packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, it is easy to see why the almond is present on almost every continent and the health benefits of this little nut have long been touted by experts.

The almond contains about 26 percent carbohydrates, 12 percent of which are dietary fiber.  About 20 percent of a raw almond is made up of high-quality protein, containing essential amino acids.

An ounce of almonds, which equates to about 25 almonds, contains 12 percent of our necessary daily protein. They are a rich source of vitamin E, B vitamins, essential minerals – like calcium, magnesium and potassium – and healthy fat.

Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with lowering cholesterol.  But how exactly are these vitamins helping?

Let’s take a closer look:

Vitamin E
Almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol —the form of vitamin E that's best absorbed by your body.  This is important to your muscles because it can help prevent free-radical damage after workouts or muscle strain and damage.  The less free-radical damage, the faster your muscles can recover.  The antioxidant benefit of vitamin E also helps defend against sun damage, and has been associated with good heart health. And almonds can be considered “brain food.” Healthy levels of vitamin E have been shown to prevent cognitive decline, boost alertness and preserve memory longer.

B Vitamins
Almonds contain about 17 percent of your daily intake of B2, which helps convert food to energy for the body. Because these vitamins are essential for energy production, they have a positive effect on athletic training, performance and strength. The B vitamins also contribute to healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver.

Monounsaturated Fat
This fat is dubbed the “healthy fat” because it helps decrease high levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.  By decreasing cholesterol, those who eat almonds can decrease their risk of heart disease and heart attack.  This makes almonds a heart-healthy snack!

Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium
Almonds provide these minerals which are essential in promoting strong, healthy bones and preventing bone disease like osteoporosis.

A lot of the vitamins and minerals found in almonds work together, and that’s when we see the real benefits that have given almonds their great reputation.

One combination is vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium – together, these are essential to the production of testosterone, which is especially beneficial to men over the age of 30, who may experience a decline in levels of the hormone.  And combining vitamins E, B and magnesium can bolster your immune system when you are sick or stressed.

Is there anything the almond can’t do?  Despite almonds being nutritional powerhouses, they are relatively high in calories.  For this reason, people trying to cut back on calories and lose weight often shy away from this snack.  Research, however, has shown otherwise.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewing 31 studies about eating nuts, it was found that adults who incorporated nuts into their diets, and replaced other foods with them, lost more weight and reduced their waist sizes.

Remember to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.