Almonds: Nut, fruit or…drupe?
It’s National Almond Day and time to celebrate its versatility and nutrition!
Native to the Middle East, the top producer of almonds is now California, providing over 80% of the world’s almonds. Almonds trees bloom in the early spring and only after pollination by bees can the flowers grow an almond. After the almond kernel matures, the hard exterior hull cracks open to allow it to dry before harvest.
Because almonds are produced from flowering plants, they are botanically considered drupes, a classification of fruit, like peaches, olives and coconuts. However, due to their high oil content, we consider them nuts in the culinary sense.
A one-ounce serving of almonds (about ¼ cup or 22-24 almonds) is a great snack with 160 calories, 13 grams of “good” unsaturated fat, 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber and an excellent source of Vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. And according to FDA, scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Here are a few ideas to enjoy almonds not just today, but all year long:
- Use almond milk for a non-dairy alternative in lattes or over cereal
- Add slivered almonds to a salad for an added crunch
- Top your morning oatmeal with a few almonds for a filling start to your day
- For a gluten free alternative to flours, try almond flour (best used for dense baked goods, like brownies)
- Grab a handful of almonds with a handful of dried fruit for an easy trail mix
- Dip raw almonds in melted dark chocolate. Let cool and sprinkle with salt for a satisfying sweet treat
- Try almond butter if peanut allergies are a concern, since allergies to almonds aren’t as common
- Almond Board of California (2018). About Almonds. http://www.almonds.com/consumers/about-almonds. Accessed February 13, 2018.
- U. S. Food and Drug Administration (2018). Qualified Claims About Cardiovascular Disease Risk. https://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/ucm073992.htm#cardio. Accessed February 13, 2018.
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