Almonds are a flavorful, edible nut in the same botanical family as peaches, cherries, apricots and plums. With a history of commercial use dating back to the Middle Ages, these nuts have played a role as both food and medicine for centuries. Raw almonds offer a variety of health benefits and may help improve your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including lowering your triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of blood lipid typically measured alongside cholesterol to gauge your heart disease risk. As the American Heart Association explains, triglycerides form when you eat an excess of calories from fat or carbohydrates, which your body then converts to triglycerides and shuttles into fat cells for storage. High triglycerides, or hypertriglyceridemia, can occur due to diet or lifestyle factors and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association defines normal triglycerides as below 150 mg/dL, borderline high as 150 to 199 mg/dL, high as 200 to 499 mg/dL, and very high as 500 mg/dL.
Raw almonds are unlikely to cause high triglycerides, but rather, may help lower your levels of this blood lipid. According to a study published in the April 2002 issue of "The Journal of Nutrition," diets supplemented with either almonds or almond oil reduced fasting triglycerides by 14 percent, while also improving a spectrum of other blood markers such as LDL and HDL cholesterol. The lipid-lowering effect of almonds is likely due to this food's monounsaturated fat content: Research published by Lesley Campbell, et al., in "Diabetes Care" revealed that diets rich in monounsaturated fat can significantly lower fasting triglycerides, while also improving blood sugar control compared to a diet lower in monounsaturated fat and higher in carbohydrates.
If you have high triglycerides, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease or are otherwise at heightened risk for cardiovascular disease, adding raw almonds to your diet may help improve your blood lipids and protect your heart health. Along with lowering your triglycerides, almonds can reduce your LDL, or "bad," cholesterol while raising your HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and can also supply your body with beneficial protein, fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and vitamin E.
Although almonds are abundant in heart-healthy fats and other beneficial compounds, they are also an energy-dense food, containing 163 calories and 14 g of fat in just 23 kernels. To reap the triglyceride-lowering benefits of almonds without breaking your calorie budget, the Ohio State University Medical Center recommends limiting your almond consumption to a daily 1 oz. serving. Other foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring can also supply you with fats known to improve blood lipids. Avoid consuming almonds if you have a tree nut allergy or experience unpleasant symptoms after eating them.