Almond Protein is High Quality Protein
Almonds provide high quality, highly absorbable protein. What does quality protein mean and how is it measured? Protein quality is measured by the number of essential or indispensable amino acids provided and by the digestibility of the protein.
In this article about the almond, you’ll learn about:
- Almond health benefits
- Almond nutrition information
- Calories in almonds
- Vitamins, minerals and amino acids in almonds
- Almond meal
- Almond milk recipes
All protein, with the exception of gelatin, contains all of the essential or indispensable, amino acids. However, some protein sources are low in one or more IAA, making that source incomplete from the standpoint of meeting biological requirements. This is referred to the limiting amino acid. Meaning, when the recommended level of protein is consumed in the form of a protein that has a limiting amino acid, then the biological requirement for the limiting amino acid is not met. This is generally referred to as an incomplete protein. However, this is a slight misnomer, because while the protein may be low in one or more IAA, it is a complete protein because it contains all the IAAs.
The two most widely accepted measures of protein quality, which focus on digestibility, are the True Protein Digestibility (TPD) and the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).
TPD measures the amount of nitrogen that is absorbed from protein sources. The higher the score, the more nitrogen has been absorbed and retained. One limitation to TPD is that it measures nitrogen, which may or may not come directly from amino acids.
To adjust for the limitation of the TPD, the PDCAAS is used to evaluate the quality of protein by comparing the test protein food to the FAO/WHO 2-5 year old amino acid pattern, which exceeds the requirements of older children and adults. The most limiting amino acid is used to determine the score and that is multiplied by the protein’s digestibility to obtain the PDCAAS. Together these measures provide a more thorough picture of protein quality.
Almonds contain six grams of protein per ounce, making them a good source of protein. With a TPD of about 88% and a PDCAAS of about 0.44, almonds offer a highly digestible and quality protein. However, the protein is incomplete so combining almonds with legumes and vegetables is a great way of enjoying a quality plant-based protein along with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, zinc, manganese, magnesium and calcium.
Calories in Almonds
Calories in a Single Almond
Not a lot of calories in a single almond, but who eats a single almond?
Calories in a Few Almonds
Still not a lot of calories in a few almonds, six to be exact. Enough to neatly fit in the palm of your hand and slightly less than an apple at 55 calories, but way less sugar (btw, nothing wrong with an apple).
Calories in an Ounce of Almonds
There are roughly 23 almonds in an ounce of almonds. One might call it a small handfull, and it makes a decent snack size portion. At 164 calories, an ounce of almonds also provides these nutritional benefits:
One Ounce Of Almonds
Fat: 14.4 grams …about the same as a Tbsp of Flax seed oil
Net Carbs: 2.3g (net carbs = carbs – fiber)
Protein in one ounce of almonds: 6g
I’m a fanatic about Potassium. Humans are supposed to have more potassium than sodium, but the typical diet reverses the ratios and there’s much more sodium in our bodies. Nothing wrong with sodium, I love sea salt, but it has to be balanced with Potassium. By balanced I mean there should be a lot more Potassium than Sodium.
What I especially like about the nutritional profile of an ounce of almonds is that it’s got a hefty amount of Potatssium with virtually no sodium. It’s got low net carbs, a nice little amount of protein at 6 grams, a few grams of fiber and very low amount of sugars.
Almonds Are a Nutrient Dense Protein Source
Almond Protein Per Ounce: Almonds are a unique package of nutrients – a good source of protein (6 grams per one ounce) along with dietary fiber, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and vitamin E. In fact, one ounce of almonds provides about 7.4 grams of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E, 50 percent of the RDA. Almonds are the only good source of protein that is also an excellent source of vitamin E.
As a protein, almonds are rich in arginine and low in lysine. Research indicates that diets rich in arginine, low in lysine are thought to reduce the risk of coronary disease. Almonds are an ideal source of arginine in the absence of lysine, hence reducing the likelihood of competing amino acids. Also, research indicates that eating a mixed diet that includes almonds and other protein sources can provide lysine in adequate and balanced quantities.
Traditionally, plant proteins have been regarded as inferior to animal protein. In the past, experts have expressed concern over the use of plant sources of protein. Current knowledge indicates that plant-based proteins are incomplete or are missing at least one of the indispensable amino acids. However, research suggests that an overall mixed diet provides the complementary spectrum of amino acids. So almonds as part of a healthy diet rich in a variety of foods contribute to the overall protein quality of the diet and provide complete and high quality protein.
Almond Nutritional Information
3.5 oz. White meat chicken
3.5 oz. Lean ground beef
2T Peanut butter
1 oz. Cheddar cheese
1 oz almonds
1 large, whole egg
1 c. Skim milk
Source: Pennington, J. A. T. Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, Sixteenth Edition, 1994.
Almonds and Dietary Fiber
Emerging research demonstrates that the combination of dietary fiber with protein contributes to overall satiety and therefore may play a role in controlling caloric intake. Most protein sources do not provide dietary fiber such as is found in almonds. Peanut butter, cheese and eggs, for example, are good sources of protein but do not supply dietary fiber.
Almonds and Monounsaturated Fat
In addition, the monounsaturated fat in almonds has been associated with a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol while maintaining healthy levels of HDL cholesterol. Some research shows that just one ounce a day can have this potential effect.
Almonds and Minerals
Almonds are also unique in that they provide various minerals that are essential for bone health. Calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus have been implicated in maintaining bone mineral density. Almonds are comparable to skim milk and cheddar cheese in the quantity of these bone-building minerals provided in one serving. Other protein sources like chicken, beef, peanut butter, and eggs don’t offer the same.
In a neat little package, nature has bound up essential health promoting nutrients in an almond. From high quality and highly absorbable protein to vitamin E and essential minerals, just one handful, about an ounce, of almonds can be an important part of a healthy, nutrient-dense diet.
- Vitamin E – Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been shown to decrease the risk for certain forms of cancer, heart disease and cataracts. Vitamin E is also needed for healthy blood cells and tissues.
- Folic Acid – Almonds, like other fruits and vegetables, make an important contribution to a diet adequate in folic acid, or folate. This important B-vitamin can reduce the risk for neural tube defects (birth defects) and is necessary for making red blood cells. It may also protect against heart disease and stroke.
- Protein – almonds contain protein which is necessary for healthy muscles, blood and organs, and it can also be used for energy.
- Fiber – almonds are a good source of dietary fiber – the part of the plant foods that is not digested in the human body. Fiber appears to play a protective role against heart disease and diabetes, an d aids in the prevention of constipation, diverticulosis, and some forms of cancer, such as colon and rectal.
- Iron – An ounce of almonds contains 6% of the recommended daily requirements of iron. This essential mineral helps carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells and organs.
- Zinc – An ounce of almonds contains 6% of the recommended daily requirements of zinc, which aids in wound healing and is involved in protein metabolism. Zinc is also important in the development of the reproductive system.
- Copper – Almonds are a good source of copper. This mineral helps carry oxygen throughout the body and helps keep bones, blood vessels and nerves healthy. It may also protect against heart disease.
- Magnesium – Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral used in building bones, making protein, releasing energy from muscles and regulating body temperature. It’s also needed for calcium and potassium balance in the body.
- Phosphorous – Almonds are a good source of phosphorous – the second most abundant mineral in the body. This important mineral is needed for strong bones and teeth, and helps the body use protein, fat and carbohydrates.
- Pytochemicals – Almonds, like all other plant foods contain phytochemicals. These plant chemicals may have protective effects against heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Benefits Of Almonds
How I incorporate Almonds into my diet
Back when I first started my weight loss journey, I learned about raw almonds. I have eaten nothing but raw organic almonds since and I eat them in many forms. It was about 1992 or so that I began making my own
almond milk using blanched almonds which I then blended in a blender followed by straining through cheese cloth (find the almond milk recipe here). Too much time and trouble now (albeit healthier), so I just use a brand of almond milk I buy at my local organic grocer.
I have about 5 to 10 raw almonds with my lunch and supper. I use almond butter on some fiber crackers that I eat in the evening and I use almond milk when I make any sort of shake. My basic shake recipe is almond milk diluted with water and then Udo’s ultimate oil blend added in. Then I just finish with whatever ingredient I’m putting into the shake (whey protein or Sunrider NuPlus or both).
I used to use Soy Milk for the longest time on my cereal (which I don’t eat anymore [either actually, soy milk or cereal]) but it wasn’t until I switched to Almond milk that my cats jumped up on my desk and began to lap the almond milk out of my bowl. I guess they know something about the healthier choice too!
I highly recommend eating only organic raw almonds. They do cost a bit more, but they taste better, their safer and you’ll get more food value for your money. Do Not eat cooked, salted almonds (or other nuts for that matter) as they’ve been made dead during the processing as well as any good fats having been turned rancid… Avoid them
Almond Fun Facts
- Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic and social significance. The Bible’s book of Numbers tells of Aaron’s rod that blossomed and bore almonds, using them as a symbol to represent the divine approval of Aaron by God.
- Explorers consumed almonds while traveling the “Silk Road” between Asia and the Mediterranean. Before long, almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean region to include such areas as Spain, Italy, Morocco, Greece and Israel.
- The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. There have been documented findings that nutmeats and dried fruits were treated as delicacies of this time, because the cultivation of these foods was not as prevalent as today. Imagine the value of something as small as a nut being a cherished gift for so many centuries!
- The almond tree was brought to California from Spain in the mid-1700’s by the Franciscan Padres. The moist, cool weather of the coastal missions, however, did not provide optimum growing conditions. It wasn’t until the following century that trees were successfully planted inland.
- By the 1870’s, research and cross-breeding had developed several of today’s prominent almond varieties. By the turn of the 20th century, the almond industry was firmly established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California’s great Central Valley.
- Chocolate covered almonds contain zero calories under certain circumstances. When transferred by mouth from the one you love to yours, they’re deemed calorie free.
Other Almond Nutrition Information
Read more about almonds here.