Health Benefits of Almonds - But a Warning Before You Buy Them
Sweet almonds are primarily grown in California and account for around 80% of the world's consumption. They are also grown in Italy and Spain.
Unlike other nuts, they are rich in mono and poly unsaturated fats which help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. So the heart is the number 1 benefactor of consuming almonds.
This alone is enough to start adding almonds into your daily diet. Cardiovascular disease is currently the biggest single cause of death in the western world, and this is due mainly to our unhealthy diets and high cholesterol levels.
Almonds have also been shown to help lose weight. They are high in protein, and snacking on them eliminates hunger pangs and makes you feel more satisfied throughout the day.
When purchasing almonds it is important to buy the raw, organic, unpasteurized type. Most almonds sold in the US undergo pasteurization to comply with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Without getting into too much detail, the FDA has declared raw almonds unsafe and therefore requires pasteurization before they can be sold. However, they do allow a certain percentage to be sold which seems strange in itself.
When foods like almonds are pasteurized, they lose many of their nutrients and health benefits. The FDA has still allowed these pasteurized almonds to be sold with the 'raw' label. This is very misleading and you should ensure your almonds are unpasteurized or you could well be eating nutrition free nuts!
When you do purchase your unpasteurized almonds, the next step (if they haven't been done already) is to soak them or sprout them. This involves soaking them in filtered water for up to 48 hours.
The reason behind this is 2 fold: first of all soaking the almonds removes the enzyme inhibitors that are in the brown outer skin. These enzyme inhibitors make almonds very hard to digest for most people and can cause upset stomachs.
Secondly, by soaking them, you allow the raw, living almond to release all its nutrients that it keeps locked inside until it's ready to turn into a growing tree. By doing this, the nutritional value of the almond is increased by as much as 200 percent.