Almonds share the same benefits as other types of nuts -- they’re high in nutrients and heart-healthy unsaturated fats that may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. But they also have an advantage because almonds are higher in protein, calcium, fiber and vitamin E than other types of nuts, reports the University of Michigan. When it comes to fiber and vitamin E, they may have too much of a good thing if you overindulge. Getting a lot of either one can cause diarrhea.
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Add Fiber Gradually
One ounce of dry-roasted almonds contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. This is a benefit because it provides 12 percent of the daily intake for fiber, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. But if you’re not used to eating that much fiber at one time, or if you eat a large number of almonds too quickly, you may experience unwanted side effects, including bloating and diarrhea. To get around this problem, increase your fiber gradually, and allow a few days between boosting your intake to give your digestive tract time to adjust. Fiber absorbs water, so it’s also important to drink at least eight glasses of water daily as you consume more fiber.
Watch Total Vitamin E
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant that neutralizes reactive molecules called free radicals before they can damage essential fats in your body. In this role, it protects the integrity of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, otherwise known as bad cholesterol, which may lower your risk of arterial disease. Very high levels of vitamin E can cause diarrhea, reports the Merck Manual. One ounce of almonds supplies nearly half of your recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E. If your diet includes a large number of almonds plus other vitamin E-rich foods, such as vegetable oils and peanuts, you may get enough to cause gastrointestinal problems.
Beware of Raw Almonds
It’s possible for raw almonds to be contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The risk is very low if your almonds were grown in the United States because they must be pasteurized to kill bacteria. But imported raw almonds are not subject to the same requirement. Dry-roasted, oil-roasted and blanched almonds are pasteurized during the cooking process. Domestic almonds labeled as raw have been pasteurized either through steam processing or treatment with propylene oxide. Both of these are surface treatments that do not change the nutritional value or flavor of almonds.
Avoid if Allergic
Almonds belong to the tree nut family, and tree nut allergies are one of the most common, reports Food Allergy Research and Education. If you’re allergic to almonds, you’ll have a reaction within two hours of eating the nuts. The severity of the reaction can be affected by the number of almonds you eat. Allergic reactions to almonds may involve your skin and respiratory tract, causing a rash or making it hard to breath. But you may also experience gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea.
- University of Michigan: Healthy Nuts Go Nuts
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: McKinley Health Center: High Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds, Dry-Roasted, Without Salt Added
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Merck Manuals: Vitamin E
- Almond Board of California: Pasteurization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Salmonella
- Food Allergy Research and Education: Tree Nut Allergies
- UCLA Health: Food Allergies
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients