Raw almonds are an excellent snack that beautifully complements a nutritious diet. They are filled with antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats, which combine to help you feel full and curb cravings for less-than-healthy snack foods.
However, there is a right and a wrong way to eat them if you want to maintain their health benefits.
When they are eaten in their raw state, almonds contain vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, manganese and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. When they are roasted, however, as are most of the almonds sold in the US unfortunately, the fatty acids are damaged, and acrylamides, byproducts of high-temperature cooking, are formed. Acrylamides have been linked to carcinogenic properties—making roasted almonds a snack to avoid.
Raw almonds maintain their nutrients and fatty acid content, and do not introduce unhealthy byproducts into the body. However, they do contain phytic acid, which makes it difficult for the body to absorb all of the nutrients that almonds provide.
If you soak your almonds for a few hours before you eat them, the phytic acid dissolves, unlocking their nutritional potential. If you do not like the mouth-feel of wet almonds, you can dry them in a dehydrator before eating.
The absolute healthiest way to eat almonds is by taking soaking a step further, and sprouting the almonds. This process concentrates the nutrients, makes the almonds easier on digestion, and introduces a mild, sweet, less ‘nutty’ flavor. It also releases lipase, an enzyme that helps your body to break down fats—a helpful ally indeed if you are trying to lose weight.
To sprout almonds, simply add one part raw almonds to three parts cold, distilled water in a glass mason jar. Allow to stand at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for about 12 hours.
Rinse the almonds in cold water—do not be shocked at the brown color of the water after the long soak—and store right in the jar, with a lid, in the refrigerator for up to five days. Rinse and drain the almonds every day. They will not actually form a sprout, but they will appear swollen.
While almonds, especially sprouted almonds, are a healthy and delicious snack with many important nutrients, eating more than a handful per day may cause mild digestive disturbances. You can mitigate this by eating them with probiotic foods, such as organic yogurt or kefir, but nonetheless, it is best to enjoy them in moderation.
Sprouted almonds can be eaten on their own, or made into almond milk. They also make a great addition to salads, and a topping to stir-fries (make sure to add them at the end so they do not cook).
-The Alternative Daily