Although they are commonly thought of as nuts, almonds are fruits of the almond tree, which is native to Asia and the northern half of Africa. Almond trees now also grow in the United States, particularly in California. The fruits contain several nutrients that may help improve memory function.
Almonds are moderate sources of lean protein -- a 1 oz. serving of blanched almonds provides about 6.07 g of this nutrient, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. For a 150 lb. person, this amounts to about 11 percent of the recommended daily intake. Protein is essential for energy function, and also helps your body repair brain cells, notes Phyllis Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Protein's role in brain cell repair may help improve cognitive function, including memory.
Zinc is a mineral that boosts immune system function, which may prevent bacterial and viral infections that can damage brain cells, according to Balch. This mineral is also an antioxidant, and may protect brain cells from attack by free radical molecules and oxidated lipids in your bloodstream. These benefits of zinc may help maintain brain function and prevent memory loss. A 1 oz. serving of almonds contains about 1 mg of zinc, or about 9 percent of the daily recommended intake for adults, states the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
A 1 oz. serving of almonds contains about 0.033 mg of vitamin B-6, which is about 3 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B-6, also called pyridoxine, aids the metabolism of proteins, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This may increase the availability of proteins for brain cell repair. Vitamin B-6 also promotes the production of neurotransmitter chemicals, which improve communication between brain cells.
Almonds also contain vitamin E. Studies show that this vitamin could help slow down the aging of cells such as those in the brain that could impact memory. High doses of vitamin E could result in serious consequences, however, so you should not take vitamin E supplements without consulting your doctor, explains the Alzheimer's Association. Eating a serving of almonds should not result in vitamin E toxicity.
There are two types of almonds available in the United States, known as sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Sweet almonds may be eaten either raw or roasted. However, bitter almonds cannot be consumed raw. They contain prussic acid, which is toxic to your body. This chemical must be removed during processing before bitter almonds are safe to consume. Consuming 1 oz. of raw bitter almonds can be fatal.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nut and Seed Products
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. et al.; 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Zinc
- "Mental Floss"; The Fruit of the Matter; D. Cantor et al.; 2006
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)
- Alzheimer's Association: Medications for Memory Loss