Crunchy, healthy and satisfying — almonds are bite-sized treats that are beneficial for health, which is why they’ve been popular for centuries in different parts of the world.
In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the annual demand for almonds in America has increased by a whopping 400 percent since 1980.1
Almonds are quite versatile too, since they can be eaten in a variety of ways — from raw or roasted to sweetened or salted. But which variety of almond is actually the healthiest to munch on? Before you indulge on a handful of this crunchy snack, there are several little-known facts that you should know about almonds first.
What Are Almonds?
Almonds are among the most popular nuts in America. But did you know that they’re not considered true nuts at all? The almond “nut” that you know of is actually a seed that’s encased within the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree.2
Almonds belong to the Prunus family, along with other famous edible fruits like apricots, cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines. It has a scientific name of Prunus dulcis and is native to the Middle East and South Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe.3,4 Almond trees were brought to California during the 1700s by Franciscan missionaries from Spain.5 Today, California is not just the sole state in America that produces almonds commercially, but it’s where 80 percent of world’s almonds come from.6
Because of this, people who live in California have a higher chance of finding real raw almonds, which are a lot more beneficial than pasteurized ones. Pasteurized almonds usually undergo the following processing methods that may affect their nutritional value:
- Oil roasting, dry roasting or blanching
- Steam processing
- Propylene Oxide (PPO) treatment
Unfortunately, almonds that have undergone these damaging pasteurization methods can still be labeled as “raw.” In order to get all the health benefits that almonds have to offer, make sure that you purchase truly raw ones from trusted sources that do not employ pasteurization techniques.
Health Benefits That You Can Get From Almonds
There’s a wide array of health benefits that you can gain from adding almonds into your diet, some of which include:
Helps regulate cholesterol levels
Several studies have shown that consuming almonds not only helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, but also prevents it from becoming oxidized, which may help lower your risk of heart disease.
Helps improve heart health
Aside from regulating the bad cholesterol in your body, almonds may also help promote better heart health by increasing the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream and improving your blood flow.
Helps reduce the risk of breast cancer
According to a study published in the Journal of Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, high consumption of almonds may help reduce the risk of breast cancer by two to three times.11 Helps regulate blood sugar levels
Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral that’s commonly deficient in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers found that increasing the body’s magnesium levels may help improve insulin resistance in diabetics.
Aids in weight loss
Almonds are low in carbohydrates but high in fiber and protein, which may help increase satiety and lower your calorie intake.
Studies also show that almonds may help improve metabolism,13 reduce waist circumference and decrease body fat.
Helps promote gastrointestinal health
Since almonds are an excellent source of fiber, they may be useful for improving digestive function and promoting regular bowel movement.
Almonds also have a prebiotic effect, which may help stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.
Other Valuable Uses of Almonds for Your Well-Being
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, almonds also provide significant amount of nutrients even in small servings, making them an ideal food for your overall well-being. Here are some of the vitamins and minerals in almonds and their uses for your health.
An ounce of almonds provides 37 percent of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant that may help protect your cells against free radical damage.
A 1-ounce serving of almonds delivers 19 percent of your daily recommended intake for magnesium, which plays a crucial role in your body’s detoxification process.
Magnesium is also necessary for proper muscle and nerve function, digestion and energy production.
Almonds contain high amounts of potassium, which helps balance the electrical and chemical processes in your body.
This mineral also helps promote proper muscle contraction, regulate body fluid, transmit nerve impulses and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Almonds are also an excellent source of calcium, which may help strengthen your bones and teeth and avoid bone-related disorders like osteoporosis.
One ounce of almonds contains 32 percent of your RDA for manganese, a trace mineral that’s essential for promoting proper tissue and bone formation, carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation.
Almonds are also a good source of selenium, which may help boost your immune system and fight chronic diseases with its antioxidant effects.
This mineral may also help support thyroid function, prevent childhood asthma and improve male fertility.
How to Cook Almonds
While roasted almonds are indeed delicious, they usually have lower nutritional value than raw ones, as the roasting process damages their nutritional content, depleting the amount of valuable fatty acids and amino acids.
However, if you still prefer to enjoy your almonds roasted, it’s best to roast raw, organic almonds on your own instead of buying pre-roasted ones from the grocery — this allows you to control the roasting temperature, time and ingredients. Here’s how to dry roast almonds according to a recipe by Genius Kitchen:20
1/2 cup raw, organic almonds 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread the almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake the almonds for 10 to 12 minutes or until they become fragrant and turn a golden brown color.
- Sprinkle with salt if desired.
If you prefer to eat almonds without their skin on, then you may also opt to blanch them. Follow this quick and easy method from The Spruce:21
- Soak a bowl of almonds in boiling water. Make sure that the water covers all the almonds.
- Let the almonds sit for exactly one minute before draining the water from the bowl.
- Rinse the almonds under cold water. Drain the cold water from the bowl, and then pat the almonds dry with a paper towel or soft cloth.
- Slip the skin off the almonds.
Blanched almonds can last for three months to one year if properly stored in a tightly sealed container and placed in a cool, dry place. Keep in mind that blanched and deskinned almonds are better for your health, since they contain fewer lectins — these are sugar-binding plant proteins that may cause weight gain, autoimmune disorders and other health issues.
Here’s a Scrumptious Almond Recipe for You to Try
Appealing Almond Butter Balls Recipe
Now that you know the best way to cook almonds, try making this delectable dessert that you and your family will surely enjoy:
1 cup smooth, organic almond or other nut butters 2 tablespoons Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 tablespoons Dr. Mercola’s raw honey or maple syrup 1 3/4 cups puffed millet or puffed brown rice cereal
2 tablespoons Dr. Mercola’s raw honey – heated until liquid 1/4 cup almond meal or finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon Dr. Mercola’s royal matcha green tea powder 1/4 cup coconut flakes
- Combine coconut oil, honey, almond or nut butters, cacao powder and cinnamon in a small pot.
- On medium heat, melt the ingredients together. Remove from heat as soon as the mixture has melted together. Do not overheat or these will not work.
- Add millet to the mixture and stir to combine.
- Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes before rolling into the size of golf balls. Roll balls in honey and coat with a mixture of coconut flakes and matcha powder, or almond meal, if desired.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to five days, or make a big batch for the freezer.
Before you indulge on this almond dessert, keep in mind that it’s best to consume it in moderation to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Almond Nutrition Facts
A handful of almonds provides high amounts of healthy fats, fiber and protein, all of which are important for various physiological functions in your body. Almonds are rich in antioxidants as well, including phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids. In fact, an ounce of almonds has the same amount of polyphenols as a cup of green tea or steamed broccoli.
Almonds are also relatively low in carbs. A 1-ounce serving of it only has 2.5 grams digestible carbohydrates and 161 calories. If you want to learn more about the full nutritional value of this food, take a look at the nutrition facts table below:22
Raw Almonds - Raw Almonds
Serving Size: 28 grams Amt. Per
Serving % Daily
Calories from Fat
Total Fat 14 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 146 mg
Total Carbohydrates 6 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugar 1 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Source: Food Facts