It doesn’t matter if you are eating for health or weight loss, snacks are important. Hunger can be enough to rob you of your willpower to eat healthily but snacks can stave off hunger so you find it easier to stick to your healthy eating plan.
While you can snack on fruit, raw veggies, cooked and chopped chicken, or any other portionable healthy food, one of the best snacks around is nuts.
Nuts come in a number of varieties – a veritable A to Z – but of all the nuts, one of the best is almonds.
Go raw or go home!
If you go to your grocery store, you’ll probably see nuts available that are dry roasted and flavored. While these do taste nice, invariably, the nuts in question are no longer in their raw state and have had goodness-knows-what artificial ingredients added. Some may just contain a little salt or seasoning but many will contain artificial additives such as flavors and preservatives and even sugar.
Dry roasting can also damage the healthy fats within the nut rendering them quite unhealthy.
When faced with a choice, you should choose raw nuts as they tend to be the healthiest. If you want to add seasoning to them or dry roast them yourself then by all means do but it’s a good idea to avoid commercially roasted and/or flavored nuts whenever possible.
While you can eat almonds as they are, many people prefer the taste and texture of almonds more after they have been soaked. This makes them softer and a little sweeter. As almonds are not a true nut but actually a seed, soaking them also starts the sprouting process which may make them easier to digest for some people.
To soak almonds, you need raw almonds, water and a bowl. Purchase raw, organic almonds if possible. Place the almonds in a large bowl and cover them with 2 cups of water per 1/2 cup of almonds. Soak the almonds overnight, then drain and store them in the refrigerator using plastic bags or jars. Almonds will remain fresh for up to a week after soaking with proper storage.
Although peanut butter is arguably the most famous of the nut butters, almond butter is equally tasty and potentially healthier. Spread some almond butter on a piece of celery for a healthy, delicious snack.
If you buy any nut butter, look for products with no added sugar or other artificial ingredients. A little sea salt is acceptable but other than that, the product should be made of nothing other than nuts and nut-derived oil.
Health benefits of almonds
So what makes almonds so healthy? Let’s take a look!
Almonds are high in vitamin E – vitamin E is powerful antioxidant which can prevent and repair free radical damage. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that cause disruption and mayhem throughout your body. Linked to everything from cancer to aging, free radicals are the result of pollution and also a by-product of breathing. Luckily, you don’t need to hold your breath indefinitely to avoid free radicals, a daily servings of vitamin E-rich almonds will do the job!
Almonds are rich in magnesium and potassium – magnesium and potassium are both important for heart health and also the good condition of your blood vessels. Working synergistically, magnesium and potassium relax the walls of your blood vessels to lower blood pressure. Magnesium is also strongly linked to lowered stress levels and better sleep.
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats – the same fat that is in olive oil, monounsaturated fat is good for your heart, your brain, and your skin. The Mediterranean diet, known for its high levels of monounsaturated fat, is one of the healthiest diets around and this, at least in part, is why people who live in these regions tend to live longer and healthier lives. Fats are often labeled as unhealthy but, when it comes to monounsaturated fats and oils, this simply is not true!
Almonds are high in fiber – fiber is indigestible but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Fiber keeps your digestive system healthy, helps to regulate your blood glucose levels and even lowers cholesterol by mopping up any excess as it passes through your digestive tract. Essentially calorie-free, fiber is something that many people are lacking. Almonds are a valuable source of fiber and their fiber content is what makes them such a filing snack.
One ounce of almonds, which is equal to 28.3 grams or about 23 individual almonds, contains 163 calories, 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, and 14 grams of fat of which 1.1 gram is saturated, 3.4 grams is polyunsaturated and 9.5 grams is monounsaturated. Virtually free from sodium and completely free from cholesterol and sugar, almonds really are a great snacking choice!