Like. Share. Subscribe. [music] Almonds are amazing! They are a complete food source that can greatly improve your health and well-being. They are good for the brain, the heart, the skin, they can regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent cancer, protect against diabetes, assist weight loss, prevent constipation, and boost your energy. But you should soak them in water, to make them easy to digest, especially for young children and people over 51. Almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skin that protects it until the proper levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Since the nut does not release its enzymes until those conditions have been reached, eating almonds without removing the inhibitor limits the nutrients your body can absorb and makes the almond difficult to digest.
By soaking almonds, you provide the moisture that makes the almond shed its skin and release its enzymes. Soaking almonds does more than make them easier to digest and increase the amount of nutrients your body can absorb. It also changes the texture of the almond and makes them easier to chew. This is of particular benefit to young children and seniors, who should avoid hard to chew foods, as they can be a choking hazard for these age groups.
All you need are raw (as in untreated) Almonds, filtered or distilled water and a large bowl. Use organic almonds if possible. Place the almonds in the 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 one week after soaking with proper storage. The benefits of almonds can be unlocked further by taking soaking to the next level and actually sprouting your nuts. Sprouted almonds are softer, moister and sweeter, as well as being easier to digest. Sprouting almonds is also the only way to release lipase, an enzyme which digests fat.
To sprout almonds, soak your almonds overnight for 10 to 12 hours, rinse and place them in glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. It generally takes between one and three days for the almonds to sprout and you can expect a 1/8-inch or 3mm sprout to grow. Almonds are an excellent source of nutrients which assist brain development, which is why they are considered an essential food item for pregnant women and growing children. Zinc is a mineral that boosts immune system function, which may prevent bacterial and viral infections that can damage brain cells. This mineral is also an antioxidant, and may protect brain cells from attack by free radical molecules and oxidated lipids in your bloodstream. These benefits of zinc are believed to help maintain brain function and prevent memory loss. Vitamin B-6, also called pyridoxine, aids the metabolism of proteins. This is believed to increase the availability of proteins for brain cell repair.
Vitamin B-6 also promotes the production of neurotransmitter chemicals, which improve communication between brain cells. Comprised of three chemically distinct compounds - pyridoxine, pyridoxinal, and pyridoxamine - Vitamin B6 is involved in the regulation of mental function and mood. It is also an essential homocysteine re-methylation co-factor, and its deficiency is associated with an increase in blood homocysteine levels.
Homocysteine is a risk factor for cerebrovascular disease and may also have directly toxic effects on neurons of the central nervous system. Neuropsychiatric disorders including seizures, migraine, chronic pain and depression have been linked to Vitamin B6 deficiency. For more information on Vitamin B6, read my September 2010 article "The Brain Benefits of Vitamin B6".
You'll find the link in the description box below. Phenylalanine is shown to work in conjunction with our cognitive processes and supports healthy neurological function. This chemical very easily passes through our blood-brain barrier and makes our brain produce our natural mood stabilizing hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. These same hormones also help reduce pain in the body. While studies are still on going, it is believed that almonds may also help treat some symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Almonds also contain the brain boosting nutrients Riboflavin and L-Carnitine. Riboflavin is crucial to brain and nerve function, because without it, we cannot maintain mental or cognitive health.
L-Carnitine is important for the brain because it helps make it possible for our brain to metabolize acetyl-L-carnitinetransferase which supports choline metabolism. Our brain utilizes choline to prevent any neuronal degeneration. The L-carnitine that is found in almonds and other nuts also helps in the release of acetylcholine, which is essential for good memory. A Loma Linda School of Public Health study showed that those who consumed Almonds five times a week reduced their risk of heart attack by 50%. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat and have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Almonds contain Potassium, which decreases the amount of sodium in your body, which helps reduce your blood pressure.
Almonds are low in saturated fat and contain many other protective nutrients. Calcium and magnesium for strong bones, vitamin E and compounds called phytochemicals, which help protect against both cardiovascular disease and cancer. Almonds appear to be a Phytochemical Powerhouse. Dr. Gary Beecher, of the USDA-ARS, has analyzed the phytochemical content of almonds and stated, "I have never seen this diversity of phytochemicals in a single food source." Researchers have found that a diet rich in almonds will reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, as well as help those who already have it.
One of the studies, published in the journal, Metabolism (I've included a link in the description box below), showed that consuming an ounce of almonds right before eating a high-starch meal brought a 30% reduction in post-meal glucose levels for patients with type 2 diabetes, compared with a 7% reduction for non-diabetics. In addition, after overnight fasting, patients with type 2 diabetes, whose meal contained almonds, had a lowering of blood sugar levels after their meal. The effect of regular almond consumption on blood glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes was also investigated, with the daily consumption of one ounce of almonds over a 12-week period being associated with a 4% reduction in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and the same reduction in body mass index (BMI). The second study, which was published in Diabetes Care, revealed that nuts such as almonds could help to maintain healthy levels of blood glucose and cholesterol for both men and post-menopausal women who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Considering over 16 million Americans are currently pre-diabetic, supplementing their diet with almonds is an excellent idea. With more fiber and calcium than any other nut, almonds are not only a great snack for the health conscious, they help prevent constipation and make you feel full - both are important for weight loss. In addition, the cell walls of the Almond are hard to break down, so the fat inside isn't easily absorbed by the body. Also a new USDA study shows that Almonds contain 129 calories per ounce, which is 24% less than previously thought.
Almonds contain MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) -- also known as "good fats", calcium, zinc, iron, protein, all of which are proven energy boosters. Their manganese, riboflavin and copper content also help provide Almonds' reputed instant energy boost. There are two major types of almonds available in the United States: sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Sweet almonds may be eaten either raw or roasted.
Bitter almonds cannot be consumed raw. They contain hydrocyanic acid (Prussic acid) and hydrogen cyanide [they smell like cyanide because they contain cyanide], both of which are toxic to the Human body. These chemicals must be removed during processing before bitter almonds are safe to consume. Consuming just 1oz. Of raw bitter almonds can be fatal.
The most popular Almond varieties in the United States are: Nonpareil Almonds - which were created by scientist A.T. Hatch in 1879. They are quite common, making up more than half of the Almond crops in California. Probably because the Nonpareil variety yields a high count of almonds, and are thus good for trade. And because they have thin, smooth shells, they are easy to blanch. Mission Almonds - were developed in Texas in the late-19th century and were originally called Texas Almonds.
These almonds are smaller than other varieties, but come with a thick shell. Mission almonds are also darker than other types of almonds, featuring a brownish-red shell. These almonds have a strong and robust taste; accordingly, they are often used in dessert dishes, including ice cream.
Mission almonds are not blanched, since they wrinkle easily. California Almonds - are actually a class of almond which includes several smaller, versatile varieties of the nut. Each of these varieties is conducive to blanching and features shells that are a bit darker than the nonpareil, and of medium thickness. The versatility of these almonds means that they are easily processed, making them popular for manufactured food products as well as consumption on their own. Carmel Almonds - were originally considered to be a member of the California class of almond varieties, when they were first developed in 1966. However, Carmel Almonds became more popular and were then given their own classification as a distinct variety.
These almonds are soft-shelled and can be both blanched and roasted. They are also easily processed, so they are used in manufactured goods, eaten on their own and can be substituted for other varieties, such as nonpareil almonds. Despite the title of this series, Almonds are not really nuts. They are actually seeds, but they are widely considered nuts. For more information on Almonds and their health benefits, visit my blog -- Holistic Health & Living. You'll find the link in the description box below.
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