Almonds: A Healthy Snack and Ingredient Option

Almonds: A Healthy Snack and Ingredient Option.

Almonds offer a variety of nutritional benefits. A
1-ounce (28.35 g) serving of almonds contains 6
grams of protein, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, 76
milligrams of calcium. All values deliver more
nutritional benefit than other tree nut. Almonds are
an excellent source of Vitamin E, providing 35% of
the recommended Daily Value. Although a serving
of almonds contains 14 grams of fat, the majority
(9 grams) is monounsaturated fat.1
Consumer interest in healthy snacking has
increased in recent years. Fortunately, there have
been several scientific studies conducted linking
almonds to health benefits. The Almond Board of
California has been instrumental in delivering the
message of almond benefits.
CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH:
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which have been
associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Clinical studies
have found that almonds consumed regularly as part of a
diet low in saturated fat can help maintain healthy cholesterol
levels. Almonds (nuts) are one of a handful of qualified health
claims allowed in the United States. The claim states: “Scientific
evidence suggests but does not prove 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.” Almonds are a healthy snack and when incorporated
into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are maximized. The
ability of almonds to reduce the risk of heart disease may also
be somewhat due to the antioxidant action of vitamin E in the
almonds in addition to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’
monounsaturated fats.2 According to the Mayo Clinic, “studies
show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)
improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk
of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit
insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially
helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.” 3
DIABETES:
Almonds have a positive impact on factors related to diabetes.
Reducing after-meal increases in blood sugar helps protect
against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Almonds appear
to not only decrease after-meal increases in blood sugar, but
also supply antioxidants to clean up the smaller amounts of free
radicals.4
WEIGHT CONTROL:
Including raw almonds as part of a healthy diet may help prevent
weight gain. Almonds contain three grams of dietary fiber of
which 0.5 g is soluble fiber.1 Several studies have found that
nuts, including almonds, can play a role in weight maintenance.
Almonds are a high satiety food that are slowly metabolized by
the body due to relatively high fiber content. The fat and protein in
almonds promote satisfaction as well.5
ANTIOXIDANTS:
Scientists have determined the concentrations of antioxidants
(phenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids) in almond skins and
almond kernels using high-performance liquid chromatography
(HPLC)/electrochemical detection, UV detection, and mass
spectrometry. They found that almonds contain flavonoids and
phenolics in their skins comparable to fruits and vegetables that
are well known for high antioxidant levels. The study authors
concluded that a one-ounce serving of almonds contains a similar
amount of total polyphenols as one cup of green tea and cup of
steamed broccoli.6
LOWER IN CALORIES THAN ORIGINALLY
THOUGHT:
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition found that almonds may have fewer calories than
originally thought. The objective of the study was to compare
energy value of almonds in the human diet to values determined
by the Atwater factors. The study concluded that energy content
of almonds in the human diet was 129 calories per 28 g serving,
much lower than the 170 g per serving calculation from the
Atwater factors.7
ALMONDS – A VERSATILE INGREDIENT
The numerous health benefits associated with almonds combined
with the wide array of forms that almonds are available make them
the perfect ingredient for numerous applications.
Offerings of flavors add innovation to the market. Whether
whole, sliced, slivered or diced, almonds can carry a flavor profile
when used as a primary ingredient. The versatility of almonds
comes through because of the breadth of flavor possibilities
available for almonds.8
Almonds are well suited to a wide array of applications with the
addition of texture and visual appeal to food products. Almonds
lend themselves to both sweet and savory applications. Available
in an array of forms: whole, sliced, diced, slivered, flour, natural,
blanched, paste, butter. There is an almond form suitable for any
imaginable application.
Almonds:
A Healthy Snack and
Ingredient Option
By Jennifer Eastman
Senior Food Scientist
Blue Diamond Almonds
nutraceuticals.

Confections – The versatility of almonds is able to stand
out in the confectionery industry. Whole almond tend to be
used in either chocolate bars or panned candy products such
as an almond with a flavored, hard candy coating or sugar
coating. Sliced and diced almonds would typically be found in
bars or enrobed products and almond paste or almond butter
can be used as a base for a filling or as a stand-alone filling
for chocolates. Almonds fit very nicely into today’s trends in
confectionery. Research indicates that consumers want to
be able to justify a chocolate indulgence. Almonds can add
texture and enhance nutrition when used as an ingredient in
chocolates.8
Baked Goods – Almonds make baked goods pop. From
bear claws to cookies to cakes and pies, almonds are the most
popular tree nut utilized in bakery products. Almond flour is
often utilized in gluten free baking applications, as a blend of
other ingredients such as rice flour, tapioca starch and potato
starch to substitute for wheat flour.
Cereal – Almonds outscore other nuts on two key attributes
consumers say they are looking for when choosing breakfast
products: “is tasty and nutritious” and “fills me up until
lunch.”9 The form of almond utilized in cereals depends on
the bulk density of the cereal. For example, the best form for
flaked cereal is almond slices whereas for granular type cereals
diced almonds would function best. Slivered almonds make an
interesting inclusion in cereals as well.
Granola and Nutritional Bars – Almonds offer an excellent
texture and visual enhancement to food bars.
Snacks – Almonds are an attractive snacking option to due
to their health benefits. Almonds can be a standalone snack, or
used in trail mix and clusters.
Ice Cream – Almonds and ice cream are a classic
combination.
Yogurt – Almonds have recently found their way into the
yogurt aisle as a stir-in to enhance the textural attributes of
yogurt and increase a products premium presentation.
Prepared Foods – Almonds can be utilized in many prepared
food applications. Examples include sprinkling on green beans,
as a coating for chicken and fish and toppers for pasta and
salads.
The healthy benefits of almonds make them an excellent
choice for snacking on their own as well as using them in the
formulation of food products to make them more enticing to
consumers from both visual and nutritional standpoints.
Works Cited
1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
Release 26, 2013.
2. Berryman CE; Preston AG; Karmally W; et al. Effects of
almond consumption on the reduction of LDL-cholesterol:
a discussion of potential mechanisms and future research
directions. Nutrition Reviews. 69 (4): 171-185.
3. “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.” By Mayo Clinic staff.
“MayoClinic.com.” Accessed October 3, 2013.
4. Jenkins DJ and Kendall CW. Possible benefit of nuts in
Type 2 diabetes. Journal of Nutrition. 138(9): 17525-17565.
5. Mattes RD and Dreher ML. Nuts and healthy body weight
maintenance mechanisms. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. 2010; 19(1):137-41.
6. Milbury PE, Chen C, Dolnkowski G, Blumberg J.
Determination of Flavonoids and Phenolics and their Distribution
in Almonds. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006, 54,5027-5023.
7. Novotny JA; Gebauer SK; Baer DJ. Discrepancy between
the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy
values of almonds in Human Diets. The American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition. 96(2): 296-301.
8. “Snacking drives nut-based confections.” Schuul, CZ.
“CandyIndustry.com.” Accessed October 2, 2013.
9. Healthy Men Ingredient Why and Jane Ingredient Why.
Sterling-Rice Group. 2010