Almonds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Almonds are a favorite, largely because of their health benefits and versatility. Nuts have been linked to cardiovascular & brain health, and lower mortality. Numerous studies have linked nuts to heart health. Substituting nuts for carbs or fried foods can improve cholesterol health and cut the risk of heart disease.
But there are many disconcerting facts about Almonds:
1) Nearly all almonds in the US are pasteurized, which destroys nutrients
2) Raw almonds contain anti-nutrients that steal minerals and alter proteins
3) Roasted almonds are heated in unhealthy, refined oils
4) Flavored almonds are coated with sugar, refined salt, and other junk
5) Blanching removes the skin and healthy flavonoid antioxidants
6) Commercial almond milk contains ~2% almonds
7) Eating nuts excessively leads to weight gain
Almonds are nutritional powerhouses, packed with fiber, minerals, biotin, vitamin E and antioxidants. They're high fat, but good for you. Yet, in the hands of food technologists and grocers, almonds are inching closer to the junk pile.
Again, they've made junk food out of goodness! Sugar-coating may get kids to eat healthy, but the reasoning is kind of nutty. Frankly, there are several issues with eating almonds, whether raw, toasted, slivered, salted, sugar-coated, flavored, buttered, or as milk.
Low-glycemic almonds help decrease blood sugar and reduce the oxidative damage caused by sugar. Plus, almond's minerals and vitamins help boost metabolism and energy. The monounsaturated fats in almonds--similar to olive oil--also help with weight management. Granted, eating too many nuts could contribute to weight gain. Keep it down to a handful or two daily.
Whole, raw almonds with skins provide the greatest health benefits. Twenty flavonoid antioxidants are found in the skin, including catechins and naringenin. These antioxidants are anti-inflammatory, help prevent urinary tract infections, and extend longevity. One serving provides half the daily need for vitamin E, an essential antioxidant that protects against environmental toxins, cataracts, Alzheimer's and diabetes. Antioxidant synergy (flavonoids & vitamin E) from almonds keeps cholesterol from oxidizing (going rancid), which is linked strongly to heart disease.
In 2007 it became illegal to sell raw almonds in the US. Two outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning forced the Feds to require mandatory pasteurization, either by exposure to steam to near boiling, or to toxic, propylene oxide gas (not allowed in certified organic almonds). Unfortunately, they result in nutrient loss, toxic residues, and unduly penalizes organic growers. Bacterial contamination was likely from non-sustainable, cost-cutting, corporate practices. Nevertheless, raw almonds are available in small quantities at local markets, and from responsible growers.