I am nuts about nuts! How about you? If not, here are some great reasons to get aboard this ship.
Almonds are mentioned as far back in history as the Bible. They were a prized ingredient in breads served to Egypt’s pharos. Their exact ancestry in unknown, but almonds are thought to have originated in China and Central Asia.
Explorers ate almonds while traveling the “Silk Road” between Asia and the Mediterranean. Before long, almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean – especially in Spain and Italy.
The almond tree was brought to California from Spain in the mid-1700’s by the Franciscan Padres. The moist, cool weather of the coastal missions, however, did not provide optimum growing conditions. It wasn’t until the following century that trees were successfully planted inland. By the 1870’s, research and cross-breeding had developed several of today’s prominent almond varieties. By the turn of the 20th century, the almond industry was firmly established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California’s great Central Valley.
The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut.
Almonds that are still in their shells have the longest shelf life. If purchasing these, look for shells that are not split, moldy or stained. Shelled almonds that are stored in an hermetically sealed container will last longer than those that are sold in bulk bins since they are less exposed to heat, air and humidity. If purchasing almonds in bulk bins, make sure that the store has a quick turnover of inventory and that the bulk containers are sealed well in order to ensure maximum freshness. Look for almonds that are uniform in color and not limp or shriveled. In addition, smell the almonds. They should smell sweet and nutty; if their odor is sharp or bitter, they could be rancid.
Almonds are known to have great medicinal value and here is why:
Good for your brain: Almonds are a source of many nutrients which help in the developmental phase and health of the human brain. They have been connected to a higher intellectual level and they have long been considered a good choice for growing children. They also contain two vital brain nutrients, L-carnitine and riboflavin , which have been shown to increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. We could all use a little brain power!
Regulation of cholesterol: Regular consumption of almonds helps to raise the level of high density lipoproteins (HDL) and they reduce the level of low density lipoproteins (LDL). This balance is vital to a healthy cholesterol level, and a reduction of LDL (bad cholesterol) is always a good thing.
Bone health: Almonds are a fantastic source of phosphorous which has a huge impact on the strength and durability of bones and teeth. It can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and other age related conditions. Good mobility keeps us young!
Good for your heart: The mono-unsaturated fats, potassium contained in almonds are all instrumental in heart health. Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant and also reduces the risk of heart diseases, while the presence of magnesium in almonds can help avoid heart attacks. They are high in potassium and low in sodium helping to regulate blood pressure. The anti-inflammatory properties include two very important fatty acids, both linoleic and linolenic acids. Those fatty acids help to reduce inflammation all around the body.
Immune System Strength: The alkalinity in your body is very important in maintain a healthy immune system. Almonds are great sources for alkali materials, and this is known to benefit the strength of the immune system, as well as increase the ability to stave off diseases and various health conditions. Along with almonds’ contribution to alkaline levels, it also has a high content of Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. It seeks out all the damaging free radicals in the body and eliminates them. Natures little soldiers in action!
And if this didn’t sell you, then just grab a handful of almonds to get you through the day-no empty calories or unhealthy fat.
Oh- and they taste great! You can get some tasty almonds this week by trying our Poached Lemon Cod with Green Beans Almandine.
Happy Healthy Eating,