Turkish & African Almonds

The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a glorious 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 are off-white in color, covered by a thin brownish skin, and encased in a hard shell. Almonds are classified into two categories: sweet (Prunus amygdalu var. dulcis) and bitter (Prunus amygdalu var. amara).Sweet almonds are the type that is eaten. They are oval in shape, usually malleable in texture and wonderfully buttery in taste. They are available in the market either still in their shell or with their shell removed. Shelled almonds are available whole, sliced or slivered in either their natural form, with their skin, or blanched, with their skin removed.

Bitter almonds are used to make almond oil that is used as a flavoring agent for foods and liqueurs such as Amaretto. They are otherwise inedible as they naturally contain toxic substances such as hydrocyanic acid. These compounds are removed in the manufacturing of almond oil.

Health Benefits

Lower LDL-Cholesterol and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

A high-fat food that’s good for your health? That’s not an oxymoron, its almonds. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Five large human epidemiological studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study, the Iowa Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Physicians Health Study, all found that nut consumption is linked to a lower risk for heart disease. Researchers who studied data from the Nurses’ Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk. Researchers calculated even more impressive risk reduction—45%—when fat from nuts was substituted for saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products).

In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). When almonds are substituted for more traditional fats in human feeding trials, LDL cholesterol can be reduced from 8 to 12%. In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains 62 mg of magnesium plus 162 mg of potassium.

Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.

Potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart, is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Almonds promote your cardiovascular health by providing 162 mg of potassium and only 0.2 mg of sodium, making almonds an especially good choice to in protecting against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Almonds Provide Double-Barreled Protection against Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

Lessening after-meal surges in blood sugar helps protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease, most likely by lessening the increase in cholesterol-damaging free radicals that accompanies large elevations in blood sugar. This is one reason why low- glycemic index diets result in lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. (Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Journal of Nutrition)

Practical Tips: Don’t just enjoy almonds as a between-meal snack. Spread a little almond butter on your toast or down the center of a stalk of celery. Add a handful of lightly roasted almonds to your salad or chop and use as a topping for pasta, steamed or healthy sauteed vegetables. When eating foods with a higher glycemic index, including almonds in the meal can help keep your blood sugar under control. 

 

 

Nutrient Comparison Chart for Tree Nuts

Based on 1 oz. portion

Almonds 

 Brazil

 Cashew

 Hazelnut

 Macadamia

 Pecan

 Pistachio

 Walnut

 Calories

163.0

186.0

 157.0

 178.0

204

196.0

158.0

 185.0

 Protein (g)

6.0

4.1

 5.2

 4.2

2.2

2.6

5.8

4.3

 Dietary Fiber (g)

3.5

2.1

0.9

2.7

2.4

2.7

2.9

1.9

 Potassium (g)

200.0

187.0

 187.0

 193.0

 104.0

116.0

291

125

 Magnesium (mg)

76

107

 83

 46

37

34

34

 45

 Zinc (mg)

0.9

1.2

1.6

 0.7

0.4

1.3

0.6

0.9

 Copper (mg)

0.3

0.5

0.6

0.5

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

 Vitamin B6

0.0

0.0

 0.1

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.5

0.2

 Folate (Ug)

14.0

6.0

 7.0

32

3.0

 6.0

14.0

28.0

 Riboflavin (mg)

0.3

0.0

 0.0

 0.0

0.1

 0.0

0.1

0.0

 Niacin (mg)

1.0

0.1

 0.3

 0.5

0.7

0.3

0.4

0.3

 Alpha-tocopherol (mg)

7.4

1.6

 0.3

 0.5

0.7

 0.3

0.4

0.3

 Calcuim (mg)

75.0

45.0

 10.0

 32.0

24.0

 20.0

30.0

 28.0

 Iron (mg)

1.1

0.7

1.9

 1.3

1.1

 0.7

1.2

.8

Source:  USDA Nutrient Laboratory Database, Release 2.0
bold, underline = highest source

Protein Comparison Chart

 

 Food

 Protein (gm)

 Fiber (gm)

 Vit. E (mg)

 Fe (mg)

 Mn (mg)

 Ca (mg)

 P (mg)

 K (mg)

 3.5 oz. white chicken

 25

 0

  .89

  .015

  13

 196

 220

 3.5 oz. lean ground beef

 25

 0

 .18

 2.09

 .014

 9

 128

 224

 2 tbs peanut butter

 7

 0

 3

 .53

 .492

 11

 103

 231

 1 oz cheddar cheese

 7

 0

 .19

 .003

 204

 145

 28

 1 oz almonds

 6

 3.3

 7.4

 1.2

 .7

 70

 134

 206

 1 lge whole egg

 7

 0

 .6

 .013

 25

 86

 63

 1 c skim milk

 8

 0

 .1

 302

 247

 406

Source:  Pennington, J.A.T. 

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