Without a doubt, the almond is a tree nut so delicious and nutritious that everyone may go nuts about it. These oval nuts are wonderfully crunchy and buttery in taste. Found easily in grocery stores, they can be varieties ranging from their natural form to blanched and slivered. While we normally consider almonds to be nuts, they are technically the seeds of the almond tree fruit. Almonds are produced worldwide. In the United States, almonds are predominantly produced in California.
Whole almonds (including skin) are a great source of Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a great plant-based protein that can double as a source of fiber. According to the vast body of research, consuming almonds regularly confers a number of health benefits, which include reducing the risk of heart disease and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Additionally, a 2007 study examined the effect of almonds on weight management, and found that the fiber in almonds blocked some of the fat calories from being absorbed and therefore helped the participants maintain their weight.
Nutrition Tidbits for Almonds: One ounce of almonds (approx. 23 pieces) contains:
Almonds can be purchased pre-packaged or from the bulk section. They come in their natural form (unflavored), or you can also find them in all kinds of flavors. Do watch out for the high sugar and/or sodium that comes with some of the flavored almonds. When buying almonds, it may be a better idea to buy those that are stored in sealed containers, as opposed to the bulk bins, as almonds can turn rancid when exposed to heat, air, and humidity. Choose almonds that are not shriveled-looking or limp. The smell should be mildly sweet and nutty, not bitter or off, which is a telltale sign that the almonds are rancid. Once you bring them home, store them in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Avoiding exposure to sunlight and keeping them cool will prolong their freshness. For even longer shelf life, almonds may also be refrigerated or frozen.
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