What You Don’t Know About Almonds May Surprise You
Almonds are highly nutritious tree-nuts that have been cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years. They originated in Iran but are now famous worldwide. Egypt’s King Tut even had almonds buried with him in his tomb.
Today, this nut is a crowd-pleaser around the globe. Almonds are widely used as a primary ingredient in many health foods like dairy-free milk, paleo baking mixes, and nut butter blends because they’re versatile, filling, and chock-full nutrients. So, almonds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat!
They’re so Nutritious
Almonds are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote your health. If you swap your less nutritious snacks with a handful of almonds, it’s a convenient way to add extra nutrients to your meals.
A one-ounce serving of almonds provides 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 3 grams of fiber, making them a filling food that can help you stay satiated for hours. They’re rich in essential vitamins and minerals like biotin, vitamin E, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium that play a significant role in strengthening your immune system, keeping your bones healthy, and maintaining proper nerve function.
But did you know what you won’t find in almonds is also crucial? Almonds don’t have cholesterol or sodium, and they’re low in saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sugar, making them a fantastic choice if you want to manage your blood sugar.
Almond Health Benefits
Almonds are one of nature’s healthiest foods. Researchers have studied them extensively for their role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Almonds can improve your cholesterol levels and balance HDL and LDL cholesterol to prevent you from developing chronic diseases.
When you eat almonds, they can help you achieve healthier blood pressure to protect your cardiovascular system. Almonds also have high levels of antioxidants, which can protect your heart from oxidative damage.
The healthy fiber and fats found in almonds may prevent diabetes. There’s a link between regular almond consumption and improved blood glucose control. Almonds have a low glycemic load, so they help prevent diabetes by slowing the sugar rush into your bloodstream. Add almonds to a high carbohydrate meal, and you’ll lower the impact the carbohydrates have on your blood sugar.
There is evidence that eating nuts might promote the health of your gallbladder. If you frequently eat almonds and other nuts, it could reduce your risk of gallbladder removal.
Eating almonds as part of a healthy diet can help you achieve a healthier weight and lower your chances of developing certain metabolic diseases, including obesity. If you switch your high carbohydrate snack for a serving of almonds, it may help you lose belly fat. Just make sure you stick with a proper portion size of almonds, about one ounce, to help you meet your weight loss goals.
Almonds are a beauty-boosting food. They contain antioxidants that reduce UV damage to your skin and keep you looking young and healthy. Research on these antioxidants shows that regular almond consumption may reduce wrinkle severity by nourishing your skin and reduce aging signs.
A one-ounce serving of almonds provides half of your daily biotin requirement, which is a nutrient essential for the health of your skin, nails, and hair. A biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, among other symptoms. Getting enough biotin from your food may help you maintain your luscious locks.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Almonds are chock-full of nutrients, which means they’re also high in calories. A standard, one-ounce serving (about 23 nuts) has about 160 calories. Keep your almond consumption healthy by checking your serving size before you dig in.
Counting out nuts is a fantastic way for you to stick with the recommended serving. You can also use the palm of your hand as a tool to ensure you eat the right amount of almonds for your health goals.
If you over-eat any food, even healthy almonds, it can cause you to gain weight since your body will store those extra calories for later.
Selecting and Storage
Choose fresh almonds and check the “use by” date on the package to ensure you’re getting the highest quality nuts available. Oxygen, light, and heat can destroy the almond’s delicate fats, so avoid purchasing your almonds out of a bulk bin, as they tend to be exposed to more air. Stick to air-tight bags when you buy nuts.
If you buy almonds in the shell, they’ll last longer than the shelled varieties. If you want the convenience of shelled almonds, store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh for longer. Shelled almonds will last six months in the fridge or a year in the freezer.
Look for almonds that aren’t warped or shriveled and that are uniform in color. They should smell sweet and nutty, not bitter or rancid.
If you prefer the flavor and texture of roasted almonds, look for almonds that have been dry roasted to avoid the extra oil. Also, read the label to make sure there’s no added sugar, corn syrup, or other ingredients.
How to Eat
Almonds can be eaten raw, roasted, ground into butter and flour, or soaked and blended into plant-based milk. Each almond product has different uses and benefits.
- Almond Butter: Ground, roasted almonds make delicious nut butter with a similar nutrient profile to peanut butter. Almond butter contains all the healthy fats and protein found within roasted almonds and provides about 180 calories per serving.
- Almond Meal: Grinding whole, raw almonds create a course meal to use in baking or as a coating (similar to breadcrumbs). Because it contains the almond skins, it is more fibrous and has a chewier texture than almond flour. You can find an almond meal in the health food or gluten-free section of most grocery stores.
- Almond Flour: Made from blanched almonds (skins removed) and ground into a fine powder, almond flour is more delicate and lighter in color than almond meal. Traditional French macarons, cakes, and many gluten-free baking mixes use almond flour.
- Almond Milk: Soaked almonds are blended then strained to produce almond ‘milk’. Almond milk is a creamy, delicious beverage that can replace cow’s milk. It’s lower in carbs, fat, and calories (around 30 calories per 8 ounces) than dairy milk. However, almond milk is much lower in protein than its dairy counterpart, so make sure you get enough protein from other sources. Look for almond milk that is unsweetened and contains added vitamin D and calcium for the best nutrition.
Are You Allergic?
Almonds can cause an allergic reaction that’s similar to other tree nuts like cashews or walnuts. Allergy symptoms can range from a mild oral allergy (itching of the tongue or mouth) to more severe symptoms such as swelling of the throat or anaphylactic shock. An almond allergy can potentially be life-threatening.
Almonds can also be challenging to chew and could cause you to choke. If you’re older or wear dentures, you may have an especially hard time chewing almonds. If you have difficulty chewing or swallowing, you may want to consider sticking to almond flour or milk instead. Always watch young children carefully if you give them almonds to eat.
Almonds for Your Health
Almonds are a terrific source of a variety of nutrients and promote your heart’s health, prevent certain diseases, and help you achieve a healthy weight. They nourish the body from the inside out and can even keep your skin looking healthy and young. Remember, just a few nuts go a long way. Make sure you enjoy them in a proper serving size to help you with your health goals. Almonds are versatile nuts; let us know how you like to eat your almonds in the comments below!