A new study published in Nutrition Research found that adding a moderate amount of almonds to the family diet (1.5 ounces/day of whole almonds or almond butter for parents, 0.5 ounces/day for children) significantly improved overall diet quality and changed the composition of the gut microflora in study participants. The study notes that recommending almonds as part of a snack helps reduce the consumption of empty calorie foods.
Almonds are a tree nut and a relative to peaches. They are grown in warm climates such as California, the Mediterranean, Australia and South Africa. Almonds are packed full of nutrients and energy. One ounce of almonds (23 almonds) provides 160 calories and contains the most protein out of any tree nut, 6g per ounce. One ounce also contains 4g of fibre, and 14 g of fat (13g of which are a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Almonds are a good source of calcium 75mg/ounce, vitamin E (35% DV), magnesium, phosphorus, iron and folate.
Almonds have been studied for their health benefits ranging from their heart health benefits in the Portfolio diet, to reducing the risk for osteoporosis, high blood pressure and improved brain health.
Buying and Storing Almonds
Almonds, being high in unsaturated fats, are perishable and should be stored out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry area. Do not store them near foods with a strong odour such as onions or fish. When selecting almonds from the bulk bin choose almonds that look fresh, are firm, without mold and smell fresh not musty or rancid. If you are unsure how fresh the bulk bins are, choose almonds stored in a sealed bag or container. Unused toasted almonds should be stored in the freezer in an air tight container.
Almonds can be found whole with skin, whole blanched without skin, sliced, slivered, ground, as a flour, oil or paste. The strong flavor of almond extract and marzipan comes from bitter almonds not the sweet almonds we eat. Bitter almonds must be cooked as the prussic acid in raw bitter almonds is lethal.
Almonds are extremely versatile. They can be eaten as a snack in trail mix, sprinkled on yogurt and fruit or ground and blended into a smoothie for added protein. Almonds are delicious on a salad, in a chicken salad sandwich, toasted and sprinkled on green beans or used as a crust on fish or chicken. Use toasted almonds in muffin recipes as they won’t sink to the bottom.