Through time, almonds have been enjoyed not only for their flavor and delectable crunch, but also for their legendary nutritional benefits. They are also an ingredient in several different dishes. Almonds are available sliced, flaked, slivered, as a flour, oil, butter, or as almond milk.
There’s a lot of goodness packed inside a handful of almonds. You may be surprised by just how much.
You will also need to know how to get the perfect portion. One good-sized handful, or about 23 almonds, is equal to 1 ounce. It is the ideal daily portion recommended by the USDA MyPlate guidelines. A handful is all you need.
A Convenient Snack
If you are like me and suffer from a mid-day slump or become hungry in the middle of the day, then think about grabbing a handful of almonds. Keep them in a container at home or work and carry some with you. Remember them when you’re pondering a sugar splurge or feel like you won’t last until dinner.
Eating about 23 almonds a day is an easy way to incorporate many crucial nutrients into your diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, almonds are a significant source of protein and fiber, while being naturally low in sugar.
One 23-almond serving packs 13 grams of healthy unsaturated fats, 1 gram of saturated fat, and no cholesterol or salt. Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin content by weight. There are 160 calories in 23 almonds. While many of these calories come from fat, it is primarily the healthy unsaturated fats and not the unhealthy saturated kind. The fiber, protein, and fat content of almonds means it only takes a handful to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you won’t have the urge to overeat.
What to Buy
Almonds are available in a variety of preparations and it can be tough to know which is healthiest. Raw, unsalted almonds are a safe bet, but some people prefer the roasted taste. Raw almonds have more naturally occurring beneficial fats, as some are lost in the roasting process. Dry roasted almonds have the same amount of calories as raw almonds, while almonds roasted in oil contain slightly more calories.
While buying, look for kernels that feature bright brown color, compact and uniform in size, and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks/cuts, mold, spots, and rancid smell.
Thanks to their trusty antioxidants, almonds have some serious staying power if stored properly. When kept in cool, dry conditions whole natural almonds can be stored for about two years with no significant loss in quality. Unshelled almonds can be placed in cool dry place for several months. Here are some tips for storing almonds;
- Avoid exposure to strong smells, as almonds can absorb odors of other materials if exposed for prolonged periods.
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
- Protect the almonds from insects and pests.
- Roasted products must be protected from oxygen. Storage containers, resealable plastic bags, and vacuum packaging are all good options. Store them in the refrigerator to avoid them turning rancid.
- Almonds can be enjoyed either on their own, salted, or sweetened.
- Use crushed almonds for a coating on fish or poultry.
- Toss sliced almonds on salads, vegetables, or casseroles.
- Almonds slivers or slices can be added to many side dishes and are great with rice.
- Sprinkle almonds over desserts and ice cream or sundaes.
- Add almonds in biscuits, breads, cookies, bars, cobblers, and cakes.
- Almonds are a great addition to energy bars or granola.
- Blanched kernels can be used to make almond-butter, which is an ideal alternative for peanut allergy sufferers.
Almonds are free from gluten protein, so they are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are, in fact, healthy alternatives for people with wheat food allergy and celiac disease.
Toasting nuts brings out the full flavor. Plus, it smells terrific, and I think scent is an important part of the cooking experience. Toasting will also keep nuts crisp. To toast, place the nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Nuts can also be toasted in a 350ºF oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful, as I have burned a few batches. A perfectly toasted nut turns a nice golden hue.
Given all we now know about the nutrition and health benefits of almonds, incorporating these crunchy treats into one’s diet is a sound nutritional strategy. Almonds and can be enjoyed in moderation without a trace of guilt.