Roasted Almonds: The Origin, Health Benefits and Process of Dry Roasting

Almonds are grown around the world. Raw and roasted almonds are a great source of nutrition.

Almonds can be consumed raw, roasted or featured in a culinary creation. Dry roasting is a process in which heat is applied to dry foods without using water or adding any other moisture, such as oil, to the food. This can be done in a specialized roaster, a standard frying pan or oven. Nuts, cocoa beans and tealeaves are a few foods that are traditionally dry roasted. Roasted almonds arguably taste crisper, drier and contain less fat than a normal almond. Most people prefer the smoked taste to the raw nutty flavor. According to the University of California, roasted almonds are easier to digest because of their crisp texture and don’t contribute to indigestion.

The process of dry roasting goes as follows: Almonds are added to a frying pan, which has been heated to a medium temperature of below 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The pan is moved around continuously to ensure the nuts do not burn and destroy the flavor. The almonds will darken to a rich brown color and produce a distinct smoked nut smell. After they are roasted, the roasted almonds need time to cool so they can harden to a crisp texture.

Almonds are considered one of the healthiest foods, with a high source of vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and phosphorous. Although almonds are high in fat, the fat is known as healthy because it helps lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Other health benefits include antioxidants, improved blood fats, possible weight loss, increased energy, strong bones and prevention against gallstones. Nutrients are the same in both raw and roasted almonds.

If almonds are roasted to a temperature above 170 degrees Fahrenheit, it will often destroy the nutritional value. Heating almonds to a high temperature over a period of time can also lead to the development of acrylamide, which is a chemical contaminant, naturally formed on foods rich in carbohydrates, such as roasted almonds. It is still unclear the exact risks acrylamide has on humans, but it is considered a toxin.

Almonds are seeds derived from the Prunus dulcis tree, grown in the Middle East and Southern Asia. The almond tree itself produces a fruit, called a drupe, with a pit similar to a peach or nectarine. There are both sweet and bitter almonds, based on where it’s grown. Typically, sweeter almonds are found in California, South Africa, Australia and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean. Bitter almonds grow close to its origin in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The difference lies in the toxic chemical, amygdalin, found in the bitter almonds. Sweeter almonds do not contain amygdalin and can be consumed raw or dry roasted to produce roasted almonds. To extract the amygdalin from the bitter almonds, the almonds must be heated.

Raw and roasted almonds both pack high nutritional value and should be a staple part of any person’s diet to help prevent against disease and stay healthy. Nut quality is especially important and the consumer should always be particular about choosing the best, freshest smelling almonds available.

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