The almond has the most optimal nutrition for acne of almost any food. It’s like nature designed this nut to provide humanity with clear skin, and waited patiently for us to discover it.
But the almond has a downside – it’s so complex and rich in defensive compounds that countless acne patients have reported in with fresh pimple outbreaks.
The almond is not a botanical nut; it’s actually the seed of the almond fruit. Its job is to embed itself in the soil, sprout and form a whole new almond tree.
The almond comes equipped with endless nutrition to accomplish that task. Almonds are drenched in vitamins and minerals, fats, calories, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The nut contains every substance required to form new life.
Compared to a tiny piece of cucumber, there’s no comparison in the nutritional density. The downside is that the almond seed does not want to be eaten. It is designed to plant and sprout itself, not to flavour a cake or be enjoyed as a snack. For that reason, the almond is also loaded with antinutrients, unhealthy fats and natural plant toxins.
The human body has adapted partially to nut consumption, but not completely. What’s more, the adaption varies hugely among different people.
In one way or another, eating almonds will have a big impact on your acne. You could give your skin a new leash of life, or destroy it. Many acne patients have sworn to never eat almonds again, after shocking pimple outbreaks. Others, however, remain intrigued by the benefits yet cautious.
The reality is that both scenarios are possible. What will almonds do to your skin? Read on and learn…
The light side, volume one – vitamin E
If the stars align perfectly, adding 50 daily grams of almonds to your diet could clear your acne completely. Why? The almond is the richest nut and one of the richest foods full-stop in vitamin E. A 50 gram handful of raw almonds contains 13.1mg, equivalent to 65% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Vitamin E is the single greatest vitamin for acne. It’s the reason why the oil on your face clogs your pores. It’s one of the reasons why sunlight can inflame your acne on one beach holiday, but enrich your skin tone another year.
If your face is oily, then the sebum (the technical name for skin oil) itself will partially clog your skin pores. However, a much worse scenario is the oxidation of a compound called squalene, which makes up 12% of sebum. When attacked by free radicals from sunlight, chemicals, or chlorine, squalene mutates into squalene peroxide.
It is squalene peroxide that kicks clogged pores into a higher gear; it stimulates a localised increase in oil production, and a localised increase in keratin, a protein that binds dead skin cells together into giant clumps. Vitamin E is the main agent your sebum uses to prevent squalene oxidation.
The facts are simple. Oily skin with low vitamin E levels is a clogged pore paradise. Oily skin with plenty of vitamin E equals only mildly clogged pores, and much milder acne.
What’s more, vitamin E builds itself directly into skin cells and prevents irritation and inflammation by functioning as an antioxidant. This study found that acne patients have 9% less vitamin E in their bloodstream.
To cure acne you cannot ignore vitamin E, and feasting on almonds is the tastiest and most convenient way to get it. Compare almonds to other foods. The hazelnut (a strong food for acne) contains 37% of the RDA per 50 grams, but other nuts like pecans and cashew nuts contain just 3% and 2% respectively.
Studies on humans have even confirmed that eating almonds raises your bloodstream vitamin E levels. This study analysed the effect of eating 84 grams of almonds per day on the antioxidant levels of male smokers. Alpha tocopherol, the main form of vitamin E in nature, increased by 10%.
This study fed 50 grams of almonds to trained endurance athletes. After ten weeks, their vitamin E levels were far higher than the control group. Their nutritional intake of vitamin E aside from the almonds was exactly the same.
This study compared two groups of humans, which had equal blood levels of vitamin E at baseline. After four weeks of a daily 50 gram nut feast, the almond group had substantially higher alpha tocopherol levels than the other group.
Vitamin E is the main reason why almonds are a superweapon for acne. Eat 50 almonds per day, every day, and you could strike gold and clear your acne within weeks.
The light side, volume two – antioxidants
Almonds have an ORAC score of 4454 per 100 grams, higher than strawberries with 4302 and slightly lower than blueberries with 4669. The ORAC scale measures any given food’s overall antioxidant capacity. Almonds have countless antioxidant types other than vitamin E, and like vitamin E, they clear acne by protecting your sebum and deactivating free radicals, each through a moderately different pathway.
Almonds are especially rich in polyphenols and flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, catechins, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. Almost of all are concentrated in the almond skin. This study identified 9 new antioxidants in almonds, including naringenin and vanillic acid. Almost all deactivated free radicals effectively; numbers 6 and 7 had “very strong activity”, the others had “strong” activity whereas only number 4 had “weak” activity.
Almonds are one of the greatest sources of the antioxidant epicatechin, with 2.6mg per 100 grams. Hazelnuts beat almonds with 2.9mg, but almonds beat strawberries (0.06mg), pomegranates (0.16mg), green grapes (0.02mg), and blackberries (0.15mg).
Only the banana comes close among fruits, with 2.14mg. Epicatechin was found in this study to protect human skin tissue from UV radiation. It was concluded that “this dietary flavanol has the potential to protect human skin against the deleterious effects of sunlight”. Almonds are the way to get it.
The variety of antioxidants is wide, meaning that almonds can come at free radicals from countless directions at once.
The effects of almonds on the human body are also surprising. This study on 60 male smokers found that eating almonds could increase the body’s production of glutathione by 16% and superoxide dismutase by 35%.
SOD and GSH are the two main antioxidants which are manufactured by the human body itself. The high levels of the glutathione co-factor magnesium in almonds might be responsible, or it could be an unidentified compound. Additionally, two markers of free radical activity called 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine and malondialdehyde fell by 28% and 34% respectively.
This study was particularly interesting. It found that catechin, epicatechin, isorhamnetin, quercetin and kaempferol were the prime antioxidants in almond skins. Yet they still represented only 3.6% of the total antioxidants. Where are all the other antioxidants?
I personally believe that there’s a major unique antioxidant in almonds which hasn’t been identified yet. Almonds have such a strong flavour, and in the spice cinnamon, the compound cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the strong aroma. There must be some unique and hopefully acne-clearing compound in almonds.
All this culminated in a study where 84 grams of almonds reduced overall levels of oxidative stress in humans by 23-24% after four weeks. Oxidative stress is the bodily balance between antioxidants and free radicals; an unhealthy balance is the root cause of acne, alongside chronic inflammation.
It’s pretty clear that almonds are a monster of an antioxidant source, and a tasty one too.
The dark side, volume one – the fat profile
However, it all goes wrong for almonds starting now. If almonds are so loaded with acne nutrition, then why do they actually worsen acne in so many? It all starts with the fat composition, a common problem with nuts.
Nuts are fatty foods by their very nature. Fat is a form of energy for the seed to grow in its fledgling stages. The sweet almond sold commercially (as opposed to the bitter, cyanide-laced almond used to make oil) consists of 49.4% fat, 21.2% protein, and 3.9% sugar.
There’s no risk of a carbohydrate overdose and the resulting oily skin, as you might have shrewdly deduced, because the sugar levels are tiny. Here’s how the fat content in almonds breaks down: roughly 10% is saturated, 70% is monounsaturated and 20% is polyunsaturated. 99.99% of those polyunsaturated fats are omega 6s, AKA linoleic acid, with a tiny percentage being linolenic acid, or omega 3s.
How do these fats trigger acne? An overdose of omega 6 fats is a shortcut to an overactive immune system and all the red pimples that come with it. Eat too many almonds and an overdose is exactly what you get.
The most important factor is the ratio of omega 6s to omega 3s. The optimal dietary ratio for keeping inflammation low is 3:1 to 1:1. In almonds, the ratio is 2000:1.
Ask yourself – do you eat a standard American diet? Do you enjoy plenty of fast food, fries, and cook your meats with soybean oil? If the answer is yes, then your intake of omega 6 fatty acids is already spiralling out of control, and eating mountains of almonds will add to that, no matter how nutritious they are.
With the strategies I outlined in my eBook Annihilate Your Acne, you can slot nuts like almonds into an acne-friendly diet with ease. For the average man or woman, the fat composition is a big hidden reason why almonds cause acne.
The dark side, volume two – toxins
By far the biggest hidden acne villain is the defensive plant toxins.
Almonds contain so many natural weapons that your chances of breaking out from at least one are seriously high. Our first example is the oxalates/oxalic acid. Oxalates are plant compounds which bind to minerals like magnesium and inhibit their absorption. They’re the reason why spinach and rhubarb cause kidney stones in susceptible people.
Importantly for acne, oxalates can also cause inflammation in susceptible people. Some human beings lack the oxalate-degrading gut bacteria required to digest oxalates. So instead, they pass into the bloodstream and bind to calcium molecules, forming crystals which must be destroyed, and increasing the overall inflammatory burden of the body.
Skin rashes are a classic symptom of oxalate sensitivity. Oxalates can also bind to existing minerals in your body and drain your acne-clearing supply.
Almonds are the commercial food with the fifth most oxalates. They contain 133mg per 100 grams whereas spinach, the supreme overload of oxalic acid, contains 755mg. Almonds surpass all other culinary nuts with ease; the closest contender is the cashew nut with 49mg.
Almost all foods contain such inconsequential levels of oxalates that there are no visible effects, but almonds are an exception.
Furthermore, this study found that the average oxalate absorption from almonds was significantly higher than that of black beans. Plants can contain either soluble or insoluble oxalates; almonds are richer in the well-absorbed soluble oxalates.
The fact that you eat almonds raw matters, because with spinach or kale the boiling deactivates a vast swathe of them. If your gut bacteria is impoverished like the average person then almonds can easily trigger skin problems.
For acne, the rich nutrition of almonds is a double edged sword. Almonds also contain 1280mg of phytic acid, another mineral-binding organic acid. They’re a concentrated source of lectins, defensive toxins which damage the gut lining and wreck digestive havoc depending on your dietary intake elsewhere. Almonds contain enzyme inhibitors which damage your digestion of acne nutrients, in addition to the absorption damage.
Every one of those weapons is designed to keep you, the predator, from eating the almond seed.
Finally, almonds can be a dirty food, a risky crop for mycotoxin contamination. Low quality almonds have been found to contain aflatoxins, a mycotoxin churned out by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus moulds which contaminate the almond plant. Mycotoxin exposure can cause mild inflammation in every human being, but sensitive acne patients are particularly at risk.
If your body is in fantastic shape from top to bottom, you might be able to feast on almonds without a pimple in sight. If it isn’t, then the story changes.
There’s next to no chance that almonds will be a neutral food for acne, if you eat a good handful daily. They’re so dense and nutritious that they could clear your skin completely, or trigger a mysterious acne outbreak.
The benefits of almonds, namely the vitamin E and the antioxidants, are unaffected by the oxalates and the phytic acid – only mineral absorption is inhibited. The real question is therefore whether you can withstand the omega 6s and the plant toxins.
Do you notice acne outbreaks from other nuts, or from seeds, which share a similar profile of antinutrients to almonds? Perhaps you have already been following an acne-friendly diet for months. Your digestion, your gut bacteria, your skin cells and your entire system may have already strengthened. If you have experienced acne outbreaks in days gone by, then you never know; you might be able to feast on almonds now, for both pleasure and the vitamin E.
If you follow the standard American diet and know nothing about clearing acne naturally, then almonds are a bigger threat. But what if your pimples are entirely down to a vitamin E deficiency? Almonds would be a godsend. The toxins would be left by the wayside.
We are left with only one solution – eat this nuclear bomb of an acne treatment and closely monitor the effects. You might destroy your skin or you could revolutionise it, but there’s only one way to find out.
Thanks for reading!