Almonds are both a popular baking ingredient and a delicious snack. They come from the almond tree, from which people have enjoyed snacking for thousands of years. It has been specifically cultivated for more than 4000 years. Already in February, it blooms with bright, unusual leaves. A harvest is possible in autumn. The edible almonds are the seeds of the tree.
The tree grows particularly well in the Mediterranean region. It’s a common sight in Italy and Spain, but it’s also popular in the Middle East. It also blooms in Israel and Iran. Successful cultivation is also possible in California. In Germany, almond cultivation took place in the Palatinate until the 20th century. Most of the nuts are now imported.
Almonds are divided into sweet almonds, bitter almonds, and cracked almonds. The sweet almond is classic and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is not advisable to consume bitter almonds raw, whereas cracked almonds are particularly popular at Christmas.
Ingredients & nutrients of almonds
The popularity of the nut is no coincidence. It contains 19% protein and thus covers a large part of the protein requirement. Each almond contains around 70% unsaturated fatty acids, which is a similar optimal ratio to the olive.
Almonds also contain magnesium, copper, and numerous other valuable minerals. The calcium requirement can also be covered very well with the help of almonds.
In addition, the nuts contain several valuable B vitamins and the antioxidant vitamin E.
Nutritional table of almonds/100g
Fat Content 49g Saturated Fat 3.7g
Polyunsaturated Fat 12g Monounsaturated Fat
Fiber 12g Sugars
Vitamin A 1 IU
Iron 3 .7 mg
vitamin B1 (thiamine) 220 µg
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 169 µg
vitamin B3 (niacin) 4,180 µg
vitamin B6 0.1 mg
magnesium 268 mg
Use of almonds
Almonds are used in many forms in the kitchen. On the one hand, they form the basis for delicious sweets, such as marzipan, which can also be used raw.
Only people who are allergic to salicylic acid should consume almonds in moderation, as they contain relatively high levels of the natural substance.
Raw almonds as a healthy snack
Almonds are a delicious snack that keeps very well unpeeled. If the almonds taste bitter, it is better to throw them away. Adults can break down the toxins in bitter almonds, but the nuts are no longer very healthy.
Otherwise, they are a delicious snack. There is a good portion of dietary fiber in the shell, so it is best to consume the nuts with this. The almonds can be nibbled slowly and chewed extensively, as they are relatively difficult to digest.
A pure pleasure: almond milk and almond butter
Almond butter is tiny ground almonds that are pureed into mush. This can then be further processed into almond milk. Health food stores and organic supermarkets often offer almond milk directly.
Since it has numerous favorable properties of almonds, it is not only a delicious alternative for vegans and vegetarians.
Almonds for dessert
Almonds contain iron, which makes them particularly valuable for vegetarians and vegans. Iron can be absorbed particularly well together with vitamin C. A dessert made from almonds is particularly healthy when combined with fruit that contains a lot of vitamin C. These include, for example, citrus fruits. However, with freshly cut fruit, almonds can enhance most desserts very well.
In between, roasted almonds can also serve as dessert. However, since these contain a lot of sugar, this should remain a rarity.
A delicious alternative is chocolate almonds. The nuts are covered with melted chocolate and spices. The intense aroma of the almonds is particularly effective in combination with cocoa.
Almonds as a delicious baking ingredient
Marzipan has been a popular treat since the Middle Ages. This is made from almonds and sugar. The nut’s health benefits may not work to the same extent here, but the marzipan is a tasty treat from time to time.
However, replacing part of the flour with ground almonds can also make sense when baking. Of course, the positive effects on the body cannot be compared with the consumption of raw nuts. But you can still benefit from it. You can replace up to half of the flour with almonds. However, the amount of fat used in the recipe should be reduced slightly.
Almonds are also an essential ingredient in the Christmas classic, the Christstollen.
Effect of almonds
Almonds are versatile and have numerous positive effects on the body. These reach from the blood sugar levels over the cholesterol level to the strengthening of the bones.
Almonds as a protective factor against type 2 diabetes
Almonds have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. In type 2 diabetes, this is reduced. Instead, the body’s cells are resistant to the hormone insulin. Since this helps with sugar absorption, the sugar stays in the blood instead of being transported into the cells.
In 2010, a study found that participants’ insulin sensitivity improved after four months of a diet that included almonds.
Almonds may even lower blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the amount of insulin that the body releases. This is a very positive consequence since this is too high for type 2 diabetics.
They contain large amounts of magnesium, which has a regulating effect on the functioning of the pancreas and increases insulin sensitivity.
Almonds lower cholesterol
There is also increasing evidence that regular consumption of almonds positively affects and lowers cholesterol levels. This effect is probably not only to be found in the secondary plant substances in the almonds but also their excellent composition.
In several studies, almonds lowered the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), also known as the “bad cholesterol .”This is considered an important marker for determining the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Almonds also influence high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol). This is known as good cholesterol. A high HDL level indicates that all cholesterol is regularly transported from the blood vessels to the liver, rather than staying there and posing a cardiovascular risk.
In a study from Penn State University in Pennsylvania, researchers showed that daily consumption of almonds increased levels of HDL cholesterol and increased its effectiveness.
Almonds to strengthen the intestines
Almonds are also said to have a probiotic effect. This means they support and feed the healthy gut bacteria needed for proper digestion.
The intestinal flora is an integral part of the human immune system. Healthy strains of bacteria are responsible for crowding out pathogens and ensuring communication with the rest of the immune system. Plus, the beneficial bacteria are responsible for helping digest nutrients and protecting the intestinal wall.
The health of the intestinal flora is mainly dependent on nutrition.
The nutrients, fiber, and healthy fatty acids in almonds help create and maintain healthy gut flora. They promote the growth of bifidobacteria and inhibit the growth of pathogens such as clostridia.
Healthier, denser bones with almonds
Almonds have a very positive effect on bone density. This is because they contain calcium and magnesium almost ideal. Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase is an enzyme whose activity is directly related to bone density.
A handful of almonds also covers 20% of the daily magnesium requirement. This facilitates the smooth absorption of magnesium and influences the function of the nerves and muscles.
Almonds as the ideal snack for losing weight
Fatty foods are usually discouraged when trying to lose weight. However, almonds may be an exception. The University of Purdue in the USA conducted an exciting study on this. The test subjects consumed a handful of almonds daily in addition to the meals that the control group also consumed. As a result, they finished a total of 7,000 additional calories over the four weeks of the study.
Despite this, they did not gain weight compared to the control group. Almonds also keep you full for longer, so they’re the perfect snack for cravings during a diet.
Almonds contain many calories, but the body cannot absorb a certain proportion of them.
Benefit from the antioxidant effect of almonds
Almonds provide two antioxidant substances. On the one hand, they contain a large amount of vitamin E, which acts as an effective scavenger of free radicals in the body. Furthermore, the brown shell of the almonds also contains flavonoids, which belong to the secondary plant substances and are also said to have a strong antioxidant effect.
Free radicals are formed in numerous bodily processes. They occur more often with stress, sun exposure, and nicotine consumption. Since the radicals are missing an electron and are incomplete, they try to complete themselves again. To do this, they snatch the missing electron from essential substances in the body, such as proteins, enzymes, or even DNA, which damages it. If this damage persists, it manifests itself in signs of aging, as well as exhaustion and lethargy.
To counteract this, an adequate supply of antioxidants is crucial. These possess free electrons, which they make available to the free radicals. As a result, they no longer attack the body.
Therefore, the antioxidants in almonds such as vitamin E and flavonoids can have a rejuvenating and revitalizing effect. Some of the substances are also contained in other products, such as green tea, but the combination in the almonds is considered unique. Antioxidants can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing in the vessels and damaging the ship’s walls.