Nuts are a high energy food source. They’re packed with protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. The specific amounts, of course depend on the variety. And boy, are there a lot of varieties! As long as you aren’t allergic, there’s a nut out there sure to satisfy your dietary requirements, and your taste buds.
A great snack
The best nuts are raw, shelled or unshelled nuts that have not been high-heat steamed or fumigated. Manually-processed or straight from the tree is the ideal way of getting the best from nuts.
The high calorie content makes some hesitant to incorporate nuts into your diet. However, it only takes a handful of nuts to satiate and satisfy. This makes them a good snack food and can help you avoid overeating at meal times.
Although eating just a few nuts raw is no problem, you can also prepare them by soaking, draining, and rinsing them. This is to eliminate an enzyme inhibitor that can impede the absorption of nutrients. Also, because nuts tend to be on the acidic side, it is best to balance them with more alkaline foods such as green leafy vegetables.
Health benefits of nuts
The fat content in nuts is mostly comprised of of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with only a small amount of saturated fats. Many also contain high amounts of phytosterols, including beta-sitesterol, stigmasterol, campersterol, sitesterol and campestanol. These substances have a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Some studies have shown that nuts offer protection against heart disease. Eating a small amount of nuts just four times a week can be beneficial for your cardiovascular health! Both walnuts and almonds have shown to lower cholesterol levels.
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Almonds are known as one of the world’s healthiest foods. They’re full of nutrients, including riboflavin, vitamin E, niacin, manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorous. One ounce of almonds will satisfy your calcium needs and 8% of your iron intake for the day. They also include 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat. Not bad for only 162 calories!
Additionally, the riboflavin, manganese, and copper help in energy production and stimulate your metabolism, thus helping with weight loss. Those are calories well-invested, I’d say!
Almonds are one of the most alkaline of nuts. They don’t need to be balanced out with as many less alkaline foods, unlike other more acidic nuts. As such, they’ll help you maintain a good PH-balance. If you suffer from digestive health issues, four or five almonds per day, along with plenty of water, can aid in the prevention of constipation.
If that isn’t enough to convince you that almonds are a superfood, consider this! They have a variety of neurological benefits as well. These nuts can promote good brain development in children and increase brain activity. Studies even suggest that the riboflavin and L-carnitine in almonds increase the brain’s defences against Alzheimer’s disease.
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One of the coolest ways to incorporate more almonds into your diet is to make almond milk. Not only is it delicious, it’s also amazingly low in calories.
Almond milk, a monounsaturated fat, helps satisfy your appetite and prevents over-eating. The fiber also helps to give you a feeling of fullness. If you’d like to make your own fresh almond milk at home, see this post.
You can even make vegan buttermilk using almond milk, which can substitute anywhere you’d use the real thing. Head on over to this article to learn a simple recipe for making delicious almond “buttermilk.”
A note about raw almonds
It is better to try and source nuts, especially almonds, straight from growers. This is because as of September 2007, it became illegal to manufacture or sell unpasteurized, raw almonds in the United States. Farmers markets are a loophole in this law, provided they only sell 100 lbs or less.
Opt for organic almonds. Of the two methods of pasteurization, fumigation is the most concerning, as it may be a source of carcinogens. If you buy organic, you can guarantee your almonds have been steam-treated instead of fumigated.
The best nut choppers for almonds
In tests done with cooking knives, food processors, and hand-cranked nut choppers, the hand-cranked machines came out in front. Chopping with knives can be a messy business with nuts flying all over your kitchen. Food processors showed mixed results, leaving some nuts mushed up whilst others were of various sizes and consistencies. Hand-cranked machines are of a much simpler design and consistently chop nuts to a similar size. The following are some of the best on the market.
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Nopro Hand Cranked Walnut, Almond and Peanut Chopper
This Nopro chopper is the first of my recommendations. It has a 1 ¼ cup capacity, which is plenty for home use. This model features stainless steel blade and crank that works both ways. At 3.75 x 7.25 x 4.25 inches, it won’t take up too much space in your kitchen.
Overall, this is a great model. The only minor drawback with the Nopro is that it’s hand wash recommended, but it’s easy enough to rinse it off in the sink.
PL8 Nut Chopper by Progressive International
The PL8 Nut Chopper is my next choice. The sleek of this machine makes it a nice addition to any kitchen. It has a shatterproof hopper, and the device fits over a standard wide mouth mason jar, which serves as the collector for the chopped nuts. At 8.7 x 7 x 4 inches, and with a 10 oz capacity, it’s well-suited for chopping almonds for snacking and baking.
The only potential downside with this model is that the “course” setting might produce slightly finer chopped almonds than you’d like. The PL8 is dishwasher safe.
Prepworks by Progressive International
My favorite almond chopper is the Prepworks Nut Chopper by Progressive International. This machine has a 1 ½ cup capacity, with dimensions of 7.88 x 5.53 x 4 inches. The non-skid base ensures it’s stable on your counter as you work, and the printed measure marks on the hopper are very convenient. You can adjust the size of the nut pieces simply by turning the handle clockwise or anticlockwise. The handle, by the way, is suitable for both right-handed and left-handed individuals!
This machine is particularly recommended for harder nuts like almonds. It is also dishwasher-friendly! All these convenient features make the Prepworks my top choice.
Go nuts for nuts!
If this article hasn’t satisfied your craving for delicious, healthful nuts, check out this post about the best food processors for nut butters!
Why not use that tasty almond milk in nutritious smoothies and shakes? Shake lovers might want to see my recommendation on the best blender for Shakeology. Or, add chopped nuts to homemade ice cream, made in one of these awesome home ice cream makers perfect for non-dairy ice cream!