Almonds are one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world, with a history dating back to early human civilization. Today, almonds are enjoyed by people all over the globe as a delicious and nutritious snack. Although roasted and raw almonds have some of the same nutritional values, you might be surprised to know that when it comes to almonds, raw isn’t really raw. In fact, almost all the raw almonds sold in the United States are pasteurized. But is there really a difference? In this article, we’ll take a look.
Health benefits of almonds (both raw and roasted)
For starters, both raw or roasted almonds are a great source of plant protein and healthy fats, containing similar amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Below are some of the benefits of that both raw and roasted almonds have:
Lower cholesterol levels
Almonds increase the amounts of good cholesterol, the high-density lipoprotein, while also reducing the more harmful LDL cholesterol. In addition, they’ve got anti-inflammatories that promote heart health.
They are good for the skin
Nuts such as almonds have supplements and nutrients that nourish the skin. Accordingly, eating them regularly makes the skin soft, removes radicals, and gives you a healthy glow.
These tree nuts contain the recommended dose of calcium responsible for healthy bones. They also contain magnesium and proteins that prevent tissue loss, resulting in brittle and fragile bones. Subsequently, they prevent bone fractures that cause complications such as uneven limbs and joint problems. Eating them doesn’t have to be boring; try something sweeter, like gluten-free almond cake.
Maintain healthy body weight
Studies show that almonds are effective in weight loss and help shed unwanted pounds. Including them in a meal makes you feel full for an extended period, so you snack less. They are enriched with minerals like copper, fiber, and proteins that help you develop lean muscle mass and lower your body mass index.
They assist in blood sugar control
Almonds can help you manage glucose concentration and fight diabetes efficiently. In addition, they’re rich in magnesium, which lowers the chances of having type 2 diabetes.
Benefits of raw almonds
Due to the different ways of processing and storing the almonds, there are some minor differences between raw and roasted. Here are some of the health benefits that raw almonds have over roasted:
- Raw almonds have a bit more fiber
- Contain fewer calories and fat
- Retain more nutrients like antioxidants and vitamin E
- Contain less sodium
- Overcooked roasted almonds may contain trace amounts of acrylamide, a known carcinogen
Why raw almonds are pasteurized
In the United States, almonds are required to be pasteurized to prevent salmonella. Almonds are typically pasteurized using one of two methods: steam treatment or propylene oxide (PPO) treatment. Steam treatment involves heating the almonds to about 210-215F for about 8 seconds with steam. Propylene oxide (PPO) treatment involves exposing the almonds to propylene oxide gas, which also helps to kill any bacteria present.
Are raw unpasteurized almonds better than pasteurized ones?
There is much debate among almond lovers as to whether or not raw, unpasteurized almonds are better than pasteurized. While pasteurization does kill any bacteria that may be present in the almonds, it also can result in the loss of some flavor and nutrition. Many people believe that the flavor of raw almonds is better than pasteurized, but it is really a matter of personal preference.
There is also the unsettling thought about raw almonds being pasteurized with the chemical propylene oxide, which has been linked to cancer in animals. Although there is no evidence that PPO is harmful to humans, it still makes me a little uneasy. You can avoid PPO pasteurized almonds by checking the label or buying raw organic or unpasteurized almonds.
What are sprouted almonds?
For extra credit, if you wanted to take almonds to the next level, you can sprout your almonds. By soaking the almonds in water so they germinate and sprout, enzymes are activated and their nutritional potential is unleashed.
How to sprout almonds
Sprouting almonds is super easy. It just takes time. All you need is a mason jar, coffee filter (or cheesecloth), some water, salt, and of course, almonds. First, fill a quart-sized jar about a 1/3 with raw almonds and then fill the rest of the jar with warm, filtered water and ½ tsp of salt. Soak the almonds in water for about 12 hours. Then drain and rinse the almonds. Replace the solid middle insert of the jar lid with a coffee filter or some other breathable mesh, close the jar, and lay it at an angle to let it drain and get some air circulating. You might need to repeat this process a few times before seeing them sprout. Once they are done sprouting, rinse them off and enjoy!
It’s all good
Almonds are highly beneficial for anyone looking to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Whether you like almonds raw, roasted, unpasteurized, or sprouted, you can’t go wrong. They’re all great sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Just know your almond options and eat in moderation – these little beauties can pack in a lot of calories, and a serving size of 23 is about right.