Almonds are one of our favorite foods, so we feature them in our articles often.
This first article answers a common question that nutritionists get asked a lot by people who are trying to improve their diet. Most people worry about the fat in nuts so they worry that almonds are not good to add to their diets. However, any kind of nut is actually good for people to include in their daily diet. Almonds just happen to have a ton of health benefits, but it always good to understand the nutritional facts about almonds. Below is a brief list of benefits and guidelines to keep in mind if when adding almonds to your daily diet.
Almonds are chock full of essential vitamins E and vitamin B2. These delicious nuts are also a good source of minerals manganese, magnesium, tryptophan, copper and phosphorus. Just eating 1/4 cup of almonds a day will fulfill the following percentages of your daily need for the following vitamins and minerals:
- 45% manganese
- 44.8% vitamin E
- 6% magnesium
- 8% tryptophan
- 20% copper
- 6% vitamin B2
- 8% phosphorus
Almonds also contain calcium, selenium, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Adding these nutrition packed nuts to your diet will help keep you healthy and ¼ cup of raw almonds is only 205 calories. The monounsaturated fat in almonds is one of the healthy kinds of fats that doctors recommend us all to eat today too. In fact, even though almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, studies prove that eating almonds every day can lower your risk of heart disease. In other words, these delicious nuts can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. The vitamin E found in almonds also lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax veins and arteries with the result of increased blood flow. People who have high blood pressure can benefit by adding almonds to their daily diet because of the artery relaxing effect of magnesium found in almonds. You do not have to eat these nuts whole to enjoy the nutritional benefits of eating almonds, you can also gain benefit by drinking almond milk.
Almond milk is not only delicious, it is power packed full of vitamins and nutrients too. They make almond milk by grinding and juicing whole almonds and adding water. Many people are drinking almond milk now since you can buy it in grocery stores today. It is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk. People who are lactose intolerant, or who are strict vegetarians, can drink almond milk to help fulfill their daily nutritional requirements. One cup of almond milk has 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber. It is also a low-calorie drink, having only 40 calories per serving if you stick to unsweetened almond milk. Flavored almond milks are on the market now too, such as sweetened vanilla and chocolate, but these contain more calories. Protein is an essential nutrient to support one’s health and so is fiber, which makes drinking milk made from almonds very beneficial for adding these essential nutrients to the diet.
There are many health benefits gained by drinking almond milk. For instance, this delicious milk helps slow down the aging process because it contains flavonoids. Flavonoids help keep blood vessels healthy and prevent them from rupturing. Flavonoids limit cell damage from free radicals, etc. They also lower inflammation in the body. Flavonoids also work to prevent certain kinds of cancers from forming in the body. The vitamin E also helps prevent cancer. Dieters find almond milk is an excellent drink to use when they are trying to lose weight. Almond milk is also beneficial for people who are trying to keep control over their blood sugar. There are only 8 grams of carbohydrates per one 8 oz cup of almond milk. Reducing carbohydrate intake is helpful when trying to lower blood sugar, so milk made from almonds is a great addition for anyone who has Type 2 diabetes. The calcium in almonds is also beneficial for bone health. As you can see, there are many benefits of almond milk.
Benefits of Almond Butter
Studies have revealed many benefits of almond butter. In fact, if you switch peanut butter for almond butter you will benefit by getting extra vitamin E. Vitamin E is one of the most beneficial vitamins to protect your cells from oxidation damage. The amount of vitamin E you can get from one tablespoon of almond butter gives you about 4 milligrams of this all-important vitamin. This is about 27% of our daily need of vitamin E. This makes almond butter good for the heart.
Not only is the vitamin E beneficial, but the monounsaturated fats contained in almonds is the good kind of fats that work hard to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Almond butter is also beneficial because of the minerals in it that helps to relax blood vessels and helps to lower blood pressure. Just like eating raw almonds and drinking almond milk, eating almond butter is beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels too. It is safe to say that if you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or heart disease, you should eat almond butter for its many benefits.
Almond butter is also beneficial for weight control. It may seem like an oxymoron, because of the fat content, but eating almond butter every day can help reduce weight. One reason is that when you include almond butter on a piece of toast you will feel more satiated. Dieters are less hungry and eat tend to eat fewer calories when they add almond butter to their daily diet. So if you are trying to lose weight, do not forget that up you will feel fuller when dieting by eating a tablespoon or two of delicious almond butter every day.
Different Types of Almonds
There are different types of almonds that one can enjoy every day, such as the ones that you can buy that are raw. Consumers can also buy roasted almonds that are either salted or unsalted. Today there are even flavored almonds for sale. Just to name a few of the flavored ones, look for chocolate flavored almonds, mocha flavored, or cinnamon flavored, etc. One well-known brand flavors their almonds with bold flavors like honey Dijon, Habanero BBQ, and chili and lime flavors. Plain, unflavored, raw almonds can be sliced, ground into flour, or chopped. Almond flour is used in many different recipes as a replacement for wheat flour today.
California almond growers harvest at least 25 different varieties of almonds each year that are actually categorized into 3 different classifications. Each almond type has its own taste and characteristic. The 3 major classifications are;
- Nonpareil – These almonds have a thin outer shell and the kernels have a smooth, light-colored skin so they are easy to blanch. If you want a nice looking smooth kernelled almond that is somewhat flat in shape, nonpareil is the type to buy.
- California – There are several varieties included in this type. These have a harder shell, but they are still easy to blanch. Some of the varieties in this category include Carmel, Monterey and Sonora almonds.
- Mission – The almonds that get categorized in this classification have a really hard shell. The kernel inside is smaller than the Nonpareil and California almonds. Mission almonds have a dark, wrinkled skin that makes them the perfect choice for flavored almonds. Producers usually do not blanch this type of almond because of the dark wrinkly skin.
Nonpareil almond trees bloom earliest, and the fruit ripens before other types of almond trees. The other varieties can take from 25 to 60 days longer before the nuts on them are ripe enough to harvest.
Storing and Handling Almonds
Almond lovers can store whole, unprocessed nuts for up to two years if they keep them in cold storage with a low humidity level. It is best to keep stored nuts out of direct sunlight and away from areas with strong odors as the kernels can absorb odors.