Almonds: One of Nature's Best Treats

Wednesday, February 8, 2017. Author Martin Cheifetz

Almonds are fabulous, aren’t they? They’re fragrant. They have an elegant shape and a hearty texture. They’re nutrient dense and easy to transport for a satisfying, high energy snack on the go. They are really tasty (particularly with dark chocolate) and they are rewardingly nutritious.

While you have most likely eaten a handful of almonds as a snack, and maybe even cooked or baked with them whole or chopped into pieces, have you ever used ground almonds as a flour for baking….or for creating really beautiful raw desserts? This week, we have a fabulous seasonal recipe for you, Protein Valentine’s Lollies featuring almond flour (which is also called ground almonds or almond meal), almond butter, and dark chocolate. Enjoy this with your partner…..or just by yourself for a nutritious indulgence.

A bit of background

Almonds are an ancient food and an integral part of many global cuisines. They are grown in numerous countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and in the US state of California; which is currently the world’s largest producer. Interestingly, the almond nut that we eat is actually the seed of the almond fruit. Counterintuitively, the fruit itself is not eaten...but the seed is!

Almonds have a high fat content (monounsaturated fat - the good kind!), but this means they need to be stored correctly. Ideally, buy your almonds whole and unblanched and store them in a moisture free, airtight container. The more surface area that is exposed (i.e with sliced or slivered almonds), the shorter the shelf life. Our Valentine’s recipe calls for almond flour (otherwise known as ground almonds or almond meal), which for optimum taste and freshness should definitely be used before its sell by date.

If you love almonds and already eat a lot of them, you may want to consider soaking and dehydrating before eating them as this process has been shown to reduce the levels of phytic acid and can make all nuts more nutritionally bioavailable and easy to digest.

To be on the super-safe side, it is also our duty to warn those of you with nut allergies that almonds are nuts and therefore, you should not eat them.

Nutritional profile of almonds (100g serving)

Calories 575

Protein 21 g

Fat 49 g (of which 4 g is saturated fat and 31 g is monounsaturated)

Carbohydrates 22 g (of which 12 g is fibre and only 4 g is sugar)

Vitamin E 131% DV

Riboflavin 60% DV

Calcium 26% DV

Iron 21% DV

Magnesium 67% DV

Phosphorus 48%

Potassium 20%

Zinc 21%

Copper 50%

Manganese 114%

Health benefits of almonds

May help with satiety and weight loss

Almonds are high in protein, fats and fiber and low in carbohydrates. Foods with this macronutrient profile are nutrient dense, increase satiety and keep you from overeating. They are also energy dense (i.e. high in calories), so although they are nutritious, overindulging will not benefit your weight loss!

May help reduce the risk of heart disease

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, via both reduction in blood pressure and helping to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

High monounsaturated fat content

Helps with the absorption of other fat-soluble nutrients, increasing the bioavailability of the other foods on your plate.

High in phytonutrients and antioxidants

Especially Vitamin E, which can help prevent cells from oxidative damage and helps reduce inflammation.

May help moderate insulin response and blood pressure

Eating almonds along with a high glycemic index (GI) food significantly lowers the glycemic index of the meal and lessens the rise in blood sugar after eating.   Almonds are also very high in magnesium, which has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood pressure levels.

 

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