Are Almonds Really Healthy or Not? (The Answer May Surprise You!)


You will likely be hard-pressed to find someone among your friends, family, or colleagues that believes almonds are bad for you. It is widely accepted that almonds are a healthy snack. They come from a tree; how bad could they be? A quick internet search of plant-based snacks or superfoods will likely include almonds on the list. But here’s the thing—what’s good for you might not be good for me.


General Health Benefits of Almonds 

Almonds have gotten a lot of great press for their health benefits. They are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, monosaturated fats (the healthy kind), protein, dietary fiber, vitamin E, and other potent antioxidants. Controlled trials have shown that eating almonds (and other types of nuts) can decrease inflammation, promote healthy blood vessels, and reduce insulin resistance.1 Meta-analyses have found that eating nuts is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, stroke, cancer, and certain types of infections.2 

A recent study from Kings College in London found that the group (there were three groups) that ate almonds had increased potassium levels and higher amounts of butyrates in their gut, suggesting that almonds are also good for your gut microbiome. The study’s lead author, Professor Kevin Whelan, added that “we think these findings suggest almond consumption may benefit bacterial metabolism in a way that has the potential to influence human health.”3 

So, case closed, almonds are good for you! Well, maybe you, but maybe not me.  

Almonds, Butyrates, and Oxalates 

When you eat almonds, your gut microbes, especially those in the classification Firmicutes, transform the fiber (which you can’t break down without them) into butyrates, a metabolite with many essential functions related to digestive, cognitive, and immune health. Butyrates plan an important role in providing fuel for your colon cells and regulating the absorption of other nutrients in the gut.4 When you eat almonds, you also get a dose of oxalates, a naturally occurring compound found in dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, chocolate, and coffee. 

This is where the line is drawn between whether or not almonds are good for you. 

Oxalate Overload: The Alarming Side of Almonds 

Genetics, the unique make-up of your gut microbiome (who’s in there and who’s missing), and/or a nutritional deficiency (such as vitamin B6, magnesium, or thiamine) can make you sensitive, to varying degrees, to oxalate.5 An oxalate overload can manifest as gut problems, kidney stones, interstitial cystitis, nutrient deficiencies (oxalate can block the absorption of vitamins and minerals), autoimmune disorders, and chronic inflammation.⁷ Almonds, compared to other nuts like cashews, macadamia nuts, and walnuts, have the highest oxalate per ounce. Whether you eat almonds whole or consume them in almond butter, or flour form, the oxalate levels remain high. One exception may be almond milk. During the processing of almonds to create milk, the nuts are soaked, strained and solids removed. That process gives almond milk a different nutrient profile than that of the original almonds. If you avoid almonds due to their high oxalate content, you may be able to tolerate almond milk. 

As explained in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, “dietary oxalate [is] degraded exclusively by the gut microbiota…Oxalate is not metabolized by mammalian (found in humans, rodents, pigs, dogs, and cow) enzymes but rather biotransformed into formate and CO2 by [specific types of] gut microbes.”6 

Unless certain types of oxalate-degrading bacteria, mainly Oxalobacter formigenes, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus species, are present, oxalate accumulation can occur and potentially lead to painful kidney stones, among other symptoms and conditions.7 Almonds contain dietary oxalate. 

Almonds: To Eat or Not to Eat

You might be thinking, “why not just avoid almonds and all other oxalate-rich foods entirely?” 

A lot of our most nutrient-dense, plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cocoa) contains oxalate. So, instead, why don’t we ask, “does my gut have the right combination of microbes to be able to break down oxalate?” 

If your gut microbiota can handle the intake, there is no need to cut out a whole swath of nutrient and fiber-rich foods from your diet. Your fate isn’t necessarily sealed, either, if you are currently sensitive to oxalate. Your gut microbiome can be repopulated and diversified through your diet and lifestyle choices.

Now, to answer the big question, are almonds healthy or not—the answer is three-fold.

  • Yes, if you have the right gut microbes to break down the oxalate.

  • No, because you have a genetic predisposition to oxalate sensitivity and/or a genetic inability to break down oxalate. 

  • Not right now, but you are working on restoring your gut health. 


  1. Guasch-Ferré, M., et al. (2017). [Cardiovascular disease and nut consumption connection]. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, PubMed Central.

  2. [Nutrition information on almonds]. (n.d.). The Nutrition Source. Harvard, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, hsph. harvard. edu.

  3. [Health influences of eating almonds]. (2022). Neuroscience News, 

  4. [Health influences of eating almonds]. (2022). Neuroscience News,

  5. Mehta, M., et al. (2016). [Kidney stones and the gut microbiome]. International Journal of Surgery,

  6. Miller, A. W., et al. (2016). [Study on oxalates and effects on gut microbiome]. Applied and environmental microbiology, PubMed Central.

  7. Mehta, M., et al. (2016). [Kidney stones and the gut microbiome]. International Journal of Surgery,