Almonds originated in the ancient Middle East, spread to the Mediterranean region and eventually were exported to Europe. They were incorporated into one main dish called different names depending on the country, e.g. in England, blancmange (pronounced blah manzh). In all countries it meant one thing – white food. It was based on almond milk and thought to be the perfect food. It balanced the four humors of Hippocratic medicine; it was smooth, and easy to swallow and digest. The dish was highly prized by the upper classes of the times.
Almonds were then very expensive since they will only grow in warm, mild climates. Today Spain and Italy are still among the leading producers of almonds, but more than 50% now grow in Southern California. Almonds grow on trees that produce a fruit like a peach with the almond as the seed inside.
Almonds were even mentioned as part of Edgar Cayce’s health readings. Edgar Cayce was an American who claimed to be a psychic with the ability to answer questions on subjects such as health among other topics. Mentions of almonds in the Cayce readings fall into several categories: (1) as general sources of nutrition, (2) as sources of fats (in low or no meat diets), (3) as cancer/tumor preventatives, (4) as a skin lotion/therapy, (5) as a spiritual symbol. According to Cayce, two or three almonds a day would keep cancer away.
Almond-rich diet may prevent diabetes
A new study indicated that a nutritious diet, which includes almonds, could help regulate blood glucose level due to their high fiber content. Almonds could also help decrease LDL-cholesterol levels in people who suffer from pre-diabetes. The latter is a condition where people have higher than normal blood sugar levels but is not high enough to be classified as being diabetic.
During the course of this study, test subjects who consumed 20% of their calories from almonds showed significantly improved LDL-cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity – both major risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Almonds are high in calories, so caution should be noted if one is obese or overweight.
1 serving of dry roasted almonds (1 oz) contains:
- 169 calories
- Protein: 6.3 grams
- Total fat: 15 grams (mostly monounsaturated)
- Carbohydrates 5. 5. grams
- Fiber 3.3 grams
- Almonds are also high in vitamin E, calcium, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron
Almonds can be ground into meal and flour; almond meal is also used to make gluten-free products for people with celiac disease. Almond meal can replace at least one quarter of flour in most recipes.
Almonds can be used in stir-fries, salads, baked products. Almonds can also be ground into almond butter and used like peanut butter.