Almond Joyless

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the FDA had rules and regulations to protect unsuspecting consumers from false labeling. Goodness knows they have no qualms about pointing an accusing finger at any supplement they think has stepped beyond its bounds

Which is why I'm still scratching my head over the fact that the FDA is permitting pasteurized almonds to be labeled as raw.

In case you haven't heard by now, as of September 1 all almonds sold in the U.S. are required to be pasteurized. The label will still say "raw", but don't be fooled: The almonds you're eating no longer carry the nutrition-packed punch of their former glory days. The pasteurization process exposes foods to high temperatures in order to kill any bacteria or microorganisms that might be present. The problem: Heat is not a selective killer.

I have a real issue with the fact that almonds are being pasteurized in the first place, but to deliberately mislabel them as raw is a whole other story altogether. It would be like slapping a "raw milk" label on pasteurized milk. It makes no sense.

Something else that makes no sense: The fact that the Almond Board of California claims that pasteurized almonds are no different than raw ones. Here's what they're saying: "Raw almonds that have been pasteurized do not differ in any significant way from untreated raw almonds." I guess their nutritional gurus missed the class that explained the difference raw food and cooked food.

But what do they care? Almond growers are not in business to supply you with a health food. They're in business to make money. And if pasteurization can reduce the frequency of outbreaks (and thereby reduce the potential for costly lawsuits), what do they care if their product isn't as nutritious? After all, look at what pasteurization did for the milk business!

It should come as no surprise that pasteurizing almonds will have just as devastating an effect on their health benefits as the process has had on raw milk.

E is for Almond

Vitamin E is one nutrient you don't want to do without. It's a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your cells from everyday stress (technically called oxidative stress). In other words, it's one of your main defenses against chronic diseases. In fact, it's the constant wear and tear on your cells leads to more serious diseases like heart disease and Alzheimer's.

As you get older, it's especially important to get your vitamin E through dietary sources- because, as with just about everything else, your body's natural defenses against oxidative stress don't exactly improve with time. One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association even showed that dietary vitamin E could reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

As you probably guessed, almonds are one of the very best sources of this vitamin E, specifically alpha-tocopherol. Of the eight form of this nutrient, alpha-tocopherol is the most active form, and is most useful to your body because it's able to reach all of your tissues throughout your body.

Even though the hazelnut is the next nut in line in terms of alpha-tocopherol content, it has only a little more than half the amount of alpha-tocopherol per 100g as almonds. So what can you do to ensure you're getting enough alpha-tocopherol? You don't have a whole lot of options: You could either load up on inferior sources like hazelnuts or sunflower seeds, or you can try to find a source that sells unpasteurized almonds. If you come across one, let me know and I'll share it with the rest of my readers.