Who doesn’t love a good almond? Whether you’re eating smoked almonds straight out of the can, crushing and sprinkling them on your favorite yogurt, or carefully arranging slivers atop fancy desserts, almonds are the perfect treat for nearly any occasion. But there is so much more power in this little nut than most eaters know.

What is good about almonds?

Overall benefits

Not only are almonds delicious and easy to eat, but they are also packed full of nutrients and other essential elements that your body craves. A single one-ounce serving of almonds gives you six grams of protein, four grams of fiber, 50% of your daily Vitamin E requirement, 20% of your daily magnesium requirement, and nine grams of healthy monosaturated fats. These little nuts are powerfully healthy even when compared to other nuts: they contain more magnesium, protein, fiber, Vitamin E, and riboflavin than almost any other nut.

However, just because you’re eating an almond doesn’t mean that you’re automatically getting all of the almond-based benefits. The best ways to eat almonds and get your vitamins is to eat them raw or roasted with the skin on because the skin holds much of the nutritional value. And while siracha-honey-cilantro almonds are certainly delicious, they also may contain more sodium than you want to have in your diet. Just like with any snack food, make sure you check the nutritional label before pounding down an entire can.

Vitamin E

Almonds are loaded with vitamin E, a known antioxidant. Naturally occurring vitamin E, like the vitamin E found in almonds, has more antioxidant properties than vitamin E supplements, so it’s even better at helping your body fight disease. Vitamin E also helps your skin and hair stay healthy, so while it’s protecting your body on the inside it’s also making you look great.

Lower LDL

Almonds are a magical food: in addition to giving your body the nutrients it needs, it can also lower your LDL cholesterol without also lowering your good and protective HDL cholesterol. By substituting other less healthy snacks for almonds, you can be working to improve your cholesterol in all of the best ways.

Protein and good fats

Almonds don’t have to stay in the snack category of your cupboard. Because they’re such a great source of protein and unsaturated (good) fats, they can be an excellent meat substitute. By swapping your meats for almonds (or other plant-based protein), you’re cutting down your saturated fats while boosting your intake of good fats.

What can you do with almonds?

The list of ways you can use and eat almonds is almost as long as the list of almond benefits. If you’re eating almonds as a snack food, keep “1-2-3” in your mind: one serving of almonds is one ounce, which is about 23 almonds; a handful of almonds a day is a good way to keep your nutrient level up without overdoing the almonds. And while almond milk probably peppers your grocery store shelves, it doesn’t provide the same nutritional benefits that a handful of raw or roasted almonds will.

If you’re not feeling the raw or roasted almond route, consider adding almonds into a healthy snack mix with other nuts, raisins, and some dark chocolate chips. You can also check out almond butter (like peanut butter) or almond flour, just make sure that these almond-based products are made with skin-on almonds and that any added sugars don’t outweigh the nutritional benefits of the almonds.

If you’ve been avoiding almonds, today’s the day to put them on your shopping list. Even if you’ve never been a big almond fan, your hair and cholesterol (among other things) will thank you for grabbing a handful.