Lots of people love to eat nuts. And when asked what their favorite type of nut is, the clear winner would always be almonds. It’s a delicious type of nut that is most commonly found in a number of dishes, even in some of the most delicious brands of chocolate being produced in the world. So how nutritious is this nut and is there any good you can get from consuming it?
When one talks of almonds, the first thing that usually enters your mind is the nut—those silvered slices of almonds that are typically found in a number of dishes and chocolate packages throughout the world. But this is actually the seed of the fruit, which hails from the almond tree; a medium-sized tree that produces fragrant white and pink flowers. Within it, the tree manages to bear fruits that appear like pits or stones similar to cherry, apricot, and peach trees. The result of this seed is where the almond nut can be found.
Commonly, the almond seeds form a hard shell with a thin brownish skin. Inside it is where the delicious off-white almond nut can be found. These nuts are further classified into a couple of categories—bitter (Prunus amygdalu var. amara) and sweet (Prunus amygdalu var. dulcis). Among the two varieties, it is the sweet almond that is usually consumed. They usually come in an oval shape and have a malleable texture. Because of its sweetness, the nut produces a buttery taste
that makes it a joy to consume.
As for the bitter variety of almonds, they are typically used to make almond oil. It is also used as a flavoring agent for different foods and liqueurs, a common example is Amaretto. Since this variety of almond naturally contains toxic substances, they are considered as inedible. During manufacturing, these compounds are removed so that the product could be safe to consume.
Surprisingly, almonds are among some of the oldest foods to have been consumed by individuals. It has even been found documented in historical texts, such as the Bible. The Romans even referred to the nut as the ‘Greek nut’ because they believe they were the first to cultivate them. But according to historical books, many believe that the fruit could be traced back to North Africa and Western Asia.
Today, almonds grow in a number of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea such as Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and even California. This explains why the nut is commonly found in the dishes prepared by cuisines from these parts of the world.
As research shows, almonds are known to be rich in manganese, biotin, copper, and vitamin E. it is also known to contain phosphorus, molybdenum, magnesium, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). To know why this nut is good for you, here are the benefits it could bring to your health:
· Strengthens bones and teeth
· Assists in weight loss
· Protects against damage to the artery walls
· Provides healthy fats
· Nourishes the nervous system
· Lowers rise of blood sugar and insulin after a meal
· Lowers risk for cardiac related diseases such as heart attack
· Lowers bad cholesterol
· Helps improve brain function
· Serves to alkalize the body
The delicious nut is available throughout the year and can easily be purchased just about anywhere. In markets throughout the world, almond nuts are sold with or without their shell. The shelled variety are available as a whole, sliced or slivered for easy consumption. Depending on the type of almond nuts you wish to use, you may opt for any of its variants to create a delicious and savory dish.
Selection & Storage
Compared to almonds that have already been sliced or silvered, those that are sold in their shells have a longer shelf life. These are typically sold in individual air-tight containers. The reason for this is because they can last longer compared to storing in bulk. When buying shelled almonds, look for ones without any stains, molds or splits in between them. You should also look for almonds that have a uniform color and are not yet limp. You can also use your nose to smell if it produces a sweet and nutty scent. If the nut has a sharp or bitter smell, it is already rancid.
· There are some individuals who have an allergic reaction to tree nuts. Almonds are part of this classification and should not be consumed by those with an allergy. Other tree nuts that make up the list include cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, and peanuts.
· When you’re buying almonds, you should make sure that they have not been irradiated or pasteurized. This is because when they are, they lose their nutritional content.
· Another thing you should remember is that when you’re buying almonds, you should opt for domesticated varieties. Avoid wild almonds because these are toxic.
· Avoid feeding your child any form of nut. You may wait until he or she is at least a year old before you let them try the nut. This way, you can avoid dangerous situations where they may be allergic to peanuts.
How to Enjoy Almonds
· The best way to eat almonds is to soak or roast them first before you eat them. When soaked, almonds are among the few nut varieties that tend to sprout. At the same time, soaking almonds will neutralize its phytate, which will also release the nutrients from the almond.
· If you eat almonds with their skin on, you get over 20 antioxidant flavonoids.
· In Iran, green almonds are enjoyed as a street snack. They are usually dipped in sea salt before consumed.
· In gluten-free recipes, almond flour is a great substitute for regular flour. At the same time, almond milk is an excellent alternative for those who follow a vegan, soy-free, or dairy-free diet.
· You may also use almond oil for cooking at high temperatures since it contains a high smoke point. It can also be great for the skin and hair. Because of its moisturizing effects, it is typically used for baby massage.
There are plenty of ways to eat almonds. If you want to enjoy a healthy and delicious treat, make sure to add this nut to your food. You’ll love it!