Prunus dulcis, or commonly known as almond, is classified under the tree native to the South Asia and Middle East. As with its cousins, apricot, peach and cherry, the almond tree bears fruit pits within, to which we called as almond nuts.
Almonds are highly nutritious and are rich in Vitamin E, a very potent antioxidant. They are also rich sources of iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, niacin and Vitamin A. Almonds have many health benefits. They are usually used as a healthy option for respiratory disorders, diabetes, anemia, constipation, and even impotency! Because of its high Vitamin E content, it helps maintenance of glowing shiny hair and beautiful skin.
There are extensive health benefits of almonds. Aside from what was mentioned above, they are also good for the bones preventing age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Almonds are good for the brain. Studies have shown that almonds can decrease the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing brain activity. Regular intake of almonds increases high density lipoproteins (HDL) levels and decreases low density lipoproteins (LDL) levels. Almonds decrease C-reactive proteins, which cause inflammation to arteries. Almonds are rich in potassium and magnesium while it is poor in sodium which helps in regulation of blood pressure. Altogether, almonds when taken moderately, are heart friendly. Almonds have also shown to decrease Glycemic Index (GI) of the meal thus help protect us against diabetes. Almonds also prevent colon cancer and boost energy.
There are two variants of almond: the sweet and the bitter almond. Both variants are readily available. More often than not, sweet almonds are edible, while bitter almonds are used to make almond oil, which is used for food flavouring. Almonds are better eaten on empty stomach for better absorption. While almonds can be eaten raw deliciously, many prefer to add them as ingredients like in casseroles, salads and ice cream-based dishes along with other nuts. Almonds can be crushed and is a beautiful garnish to many dishes. Almond can also be used to make almond butter due to its naturally sweet taste. Another culinary option is almond milk. Almond milk has lesser protein and fat than animal’s milk, however has higher carbohydrate content. It is a creamy, nutty, nutritious and yet delicious drink which is a perfect analogue to dairy products and a soy-free choice for lactose intolerant individuals. It is a low calorie and nutrient dense beverage that is perfect for an afternoon snack.
Another healthy option is almond kefir. Kefir is rich in healthy probiotics and together with almonds, they help improve bowel movements like constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Almond kefir milk is easy to make and delicious to drink.
Almond milk kefir recipe
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 2 liters water
- 2 tablespoon of milk kefir grains
- Lemon juice to taste
- Stevia to taste
- Soak raw almonds in water for 8 hours or more.
- Strain the water.
- In a blender, combine strained raw almonds and 2 litres of water then blend.
- Pour the mixture through a straining bag into a glass container. Squeeze the remaining liquid through the bag.
- Open the 4 cups of milk kefir into the almond milk and stir gently.
- Cover glass bowl and leave it at room temperature for 12 hours or more to allow more time for the probiotics to proliferate.
Note: Finish product will have a thick layer at the top, which contains the fat content of the almonds and the bottom layer would be pure liquid.
- Pour the liquid through a metal strainer.
- Add stevia and lemon to taste.
Note: Refrigerate the remaining almond milk kefir. This could last for about a week.