I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.
Why IS most almond butter bad for you? Almond butter replaced peanut butter in many people’s pantries years ago, touted as being healthier. Americans also love almonds themselves for snacking. Almond flour is quite common in gluten-free and grain-free baking. Almond milk replaced soy as the most popular dairy-free milk. Are we operating off of misinformation?
Certainly it’s common to see Internet headings like, “Almonds: the World’s Healthiest Food.” These sites, when looked at, inevitably include a list with the nutritional profile of such foods: they are full of vitamins and minerals and fiber! We are supposed to be dazzled, convinced, and most people are. However, the claims are narrow in their approach and understanding of nutrition.
If almonds are eaten seldomly and in moderation, after the proper handling and treatment, they are nutritious. Most natural foods when handled and prepared properly can be a blessing to our bodies, (food allergies and diseases aside, for the moment). But we have to know the whole food, its idiosyncrasies learned by former generations and forgotten as of late; and we have to eat the food amidst a balanced diet.
This article will look at almonds specifically, but also put forward ideas about how to shop for certain foods, and how and why to avoid factory-made convenience foods that are advertised as healthy. Ironically, these “healthy” foods can be as dangerous, and should be as repellent, as driving through McDonald’s.
When it comes to the foods we eat, we can’t trust the labels on packages to tell us what’s healthy. We were all unknowingly entrapped in that sci-fi game for decades, even fifty years, ever since the post-World War II food culture, when boxed foods first came into vogue. Words like, “healthy,” “all natural,” and “gourmet” have lost their meaning and irony has made those words hint at the lie: most packages that brag they are healthy, should actually be avoided. “Healthy” and the actual contents of the factory-made food are antonyms.
Therefore, sadly, even Paleo favorites like almond butter, almond meal, and almond milk are not healthy. If these three ubiquitous Paleo ingredients are made at home, using certain trustworthy old-fashioned techniques, which we’ll discuss below, and eaten in moderation, then they are indeed health foods! But who ever brainwashed us into thinking that store-bought, factory-made almond butter was health food?
My daughter just reminded me this morning that I, too, used to say that almond butter was a better option than peanut butter. (Peanuts are another issue entirely, a topic for another post.) But what was wrong with my assumption was I was assuming that all almonds and all almond butter were healthy. They taste healthy; they seem healthy…
Some of you might feel threatened or sad at the thought that one of these frequently relied upon ingredients actually isn’t good for you. It takes us all a bit of swallowing and time to digest new information that we don’t want to hear. But the good news about my blog, and about me, is that my major message is one of hope: ALTERNATIVES. If we have alternatives that we love, it is not as hard to leave behind old favorites or former comfort foods.
I am so excited to share beautiful, revolutionary baking recipes with you that are truly full of nutrition, easy to digest, and prepared using knowledge-based methods from local and organic ingredients. Almond butter and meal can be temporary steps, like Bob’s Red Mill-type gluten-free mixes, after giving up gluten and learning to live without it. What follows in this article and in life is the next step when and if you’re ready.
Firstly, I’d like to be very specific about the problem with almond products. There are two main issues that actually make them disease and cancer-causing convenience foods. (But remember, when we’re done discussing what’s wrong with these easy foods, I’ll share their healthy counterparts, how to make these foods at home, recipes of love and truth that you can feel confident about and love eating now and forever.)
DOES PASTEURIZATION MAKE ALMONDS DANGEROUS?
And are your almonds raw?
In 2007 legislation passed in the United States that required the pasteurization of almonds, due to two Salmonella outbreaks from California-grown almonds. Pasteurization uses one of two methods: heating the almonds to temperatures of 200 degrees or higher or the use of propylene oxide gas, a “probable” carcinogen, as noted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Yikes! Most conventional almonds are undergoing this gassing process; and no U.S. grown almonds are raw!
(The one exception to this rule is that raw almonds may be sold in no larger than 100-pound quantities total per farm from farmer’s markets. But bulk almonds are grown only in a few states in our country; so these raw ones are inaccessible to most and of course, are sold in very small amounts that aren’t a significant monetary benefit to any farm.)
Update: In 2015 a chemical-free process for pasteurizing almonds using radio frequencies was approved! This is great news, as it’s a natural alternatives for killing pests and molds. It is not used pervasively at this time, but at least it’s an approved alternative to the more prevalent carcinogenic gases. (source)
Once we get that bagged almond meal, or blanched almond flour, its food value has been compromised significantly and it likely contains residues that are cancer causing.
What is shocking and fascinating is that the U.S. government took the same approach with the pasteurization of almonds and these Salmonella outbreaks as it took with the pasteurization of milk. The conventional farming practices that contributed to the Salmonella outbreak in California were not addressed on a nation-wide scale. As in, “Is it possible that the direction modern farming has taken contributed to this health hazard? Should we look at modern conventional farming techniques and see where we’ve gone wrong?”
Heating and killing, or poisoning our food, is easier than addressing the labyrinth of trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into when it comes to conventional farming techniques. Specifically, sustainably raised crops practice biodiversity wherein grasses and weeds actually help to prevent salmonella. The newer mono-crop farming method of raising literally 70,000 pounds of one food per season is a risky sponge for infection.
As an informative article from cornucopia.org points out,
“This may be the first step in a slippery slope toward a sterile food environment that protects processors from lawsuits and facilitates industrial-scale food processing and distribution—which is exactly the kind of environment that facilitates bacterial contamination, but does not necessarily protect consumers from illness, while offering few food choices to consumers who prefer raw and unprocessed foods.”
With the issue of raw milk, by the time it was outlawed (which still shocks me to think about) cows were sitting or standing in their own feces in small pens while milk was mechanically being pumped from their utters. This form of mass production was too profitable and convenient for the U.S. government to reconsider. (But obviously the risk of milk being infected under these circumstances is scary huge.) So the mass population’s demise of health began in earnest instead.
That sociological decision, one that would affect the entire nation, was marketed ironically over the next five decades as America’s super health food. We all drank milk for strong bones and protein. It took about three generations before the health ramifications of eating large amounts of a food without living digestive enzymes and also laced with growth hormones took its toll. (I will discuss more about the cause of food allergies and all of today’s modern health epidemics in another post.)
But let’s learn our lesson well. We don’t need to eat poisoned and dead almonds for decades. Let’s look at the history of milk, with many of us now drinking dairy-free milks or making sure our sources are grass-fed, raw, full of probiotics, and/or locally sourced. We need to seek out whole foods, fresh foods.
ARE YOUR NUTS FRESH?
That leads to the second reason to avoid all commercially made almond butter, almond meal, almond flour, and blanched almond flour. All nuts have a short shelf life. They are prone toward rancidity. This is especially true of walnuts. But all nuts must be stored briefly or properly. Do we think that big factories are mindful of this truth?
Rather they are looking at mass production, mass profit, and the effectiveness of a good label to make their product look healthy and desirable, not to mention a competitive selling price.
A competitive selling price, however, is not complimentary with having a knowledgeable health advocate on the company team to make sure that all almonds are made into butter quickly after harvest and then frozen to prevent further aging of the nuts’ components.
Nor are most nut companies these days soaking and sprouting their nuts before creating their meals and butters, although we are beginning to see a few companies do this who sell from health food store shelves.
What’s wrong with a good rancid nut? Until you’ve eaten lots of GOOD soaked, sprouted and dehydrated nuts you won’t necessary taste the difference.
But rancidity in food is not something to ignore.
Paul Pitchford of Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition writes that possible complications from eating rancid nuts include,
“irritation to the linings of the stomach and intestines; the oils in them cannot be digested or assimilated efficiently; poor immunity, cancer and other chronic diseases; destruction of vitamins A, E and F in the food plus those stored in the body; gall bladder and liver complaints.” And Andrew Weil, integrative medical specialist, says of the rancid oils found in nuts, “They’re carcinogenic, pro-inflammatory and very toxic.”
My kids were not happy when I first learned the truth about almond butter. It had been a comfort food to them ever since we embarked on a limited healing diet. First we gave up peanut butter, and now, not this! So here’s my shocking confession: occasionally I let us eat it as I weaned and educated them. I had peace by making a habit that was going to stick into a process. I will emphasize that we didn’t do this often. But I knew our bodies can deal with a small amount of toxins and it was emotionally helpful for them to transition to only having homemade almond butter, which does have a different quality.
Eventually I weaned us of almond butter altogether. I literally never buy or make it. But we love sprouted nuts and seeds and homemade sprouted nut and seed butter alternatives. I give recipes for these below.
HOW MANY ALMONDS ARE SAFE TO EAT?
The last important issue to discuss and be mindful of when eating almonds, and most nuts, is the quantity consumed. The bad news about almonds is that their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is heavy on the omega-6 side. The typical American diet is already heavy in omega-6s, which is why so many doctors now recommend foods and supplementary fish oils high in omega-3s, to get the balance back to where it should be.
The ideal ratio of these necessary fats in our diet should be anywhere from 1:1 to possibly 4:1. Many Americans today eat a diet that is 30:1, heavy on the omega-6 side.
Where is the imbalance coming from? Grain-fed meat, too much chicken (and skinless boneless chicken breasts- oy!), and lots and lots of polyunsaturated oils that in some cases we are still being told are good for us: grapeseed, sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, soybean, margarine, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as well as canola oil. (If you are still cooking with these oils, please stop and replace them with grass-fed butter or ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or fat rendered from sustainably-sourced meat.)
You take this typical American diet and you add the advice that “almonds are healthy” and you are just adding another fat imbalance and digestive challenge to the problem.
However, if our diet is remedied to more of a Paleo or Weston A. Price style of eating and we emphasize eating lots of organic vegetables and wild-caught seafood, grass-fed eggs and meat, good fats, pre-digested or no grains, fermented foods and cod liver oil, and we enjoy a handful of sprouted almonds a couple of times a week, or use them in baking, we are in good shape!
I think the main message here is actually really simple and just takes a little practice and some recipes: stop eating factory made food. This includes rotisserie chickens from Costco and other local markets, (save for a few exceptions) that are basted in, or injected with, cottonseed and other harmful oils.
Fresh, living ingredients raised correctly, with care and knowledge, prepared with homemade techniques are the rule of the day for restored or improved health.
Please look for local companies that you can support that are doing this. In our city I know of 3-4 restaurants total that practice these ethics.
Here’s a shocking exercise: look at the ingredients in your local market’s salads and soups. You will surely find polyunsaturated oils. My guess is that even natural markets do not have the knowledge to avoid these oils; or their profit margin issue makes it difficult to stick to olive oil and other safe choices.
(Any consumption of these polyunsaturated oils should be limited, by the way, to the expeller-pressed, no heat technique; and these oils should not be used for cooking, only cold preparations.) Mention this issue of oil choice to your local markets and restaurants so we can see change over time!
As promised, it is time to talk about how to make real foods work in real day-to-day life. My cookbook, EAT BEAUTIFUL: Grain-free, Sugar-Free and Loving It promises many lovely feasts, baked goods you can feel great about. Below I share additional component recipes, like how to make homemade nut and seed butter and simple sprouted nuts or seeds for snacking. Keep in mind the California component, when seeking out alternatives to almonds: that it’s a dessert providing water it doesn’t have to thirsty trees. It is better to find nut or seed alternatives to almonds.
When buying any nut or seed, in order to make these recipes, it is necessary to buy from sources with a quick turnover.
(Here in Eugene, OR I buy from Hummingbird Wholesale, in bulk. I believe that Sundance Market also has a fast turnover on their nuts.)
If you are someplace like Trader Joe’s and want to take advantage of their excellent nut selection and prices, I recommend one simple step to help protect yourself against rancidity. I don’t recommend this with a nut from a market that doesn’t have a fast turnover rate for their nuts (where the nuts are sure to be rancid), but from a market like Trader Joe’s where the turnover is likely a fast one and you just want to show that extra ounce of precaution: add 1 tsp. vitamin C crystals to your soaking water. The soaking method is taught below.
As I launch into recipes for how to prepare your nuts, (and grains follow this same principle,) I’d love to share why this is necessary.
Phytic acid is found in grains, seeds, and nuts, which can combine in the intestinal tract with minerals and “block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss…Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains.”
Sally Fallon, author of the revolutionary book Nourishing Traditions, goes on to say that the nutrition in the grains is improved by soaking. Grains, nuts, and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors which protect the seed but are hard to digest. Soaking neutralizes these enzymes and increases the nutrition available.
In short, we are making the nuts and seeds more digestible; we are making their nutrients accessible; and we are preventing mineral loss that the phytic acid would have caused.
A helpful insight is that the digestive mechanism, our body’s way of breaking down and assimilating nutrients, can actually be broken down over time. If we abuse and overuse it with nuts and seeds and grains that have not been predigested, this havoc takes years of strict healing diets to heal. Better to begin healing or prevent damage now through sprouting.
Soaked, Sprouted, Dehydrated “Crispy” Nuts
Soaking and Sprouting
For every 4 cups raw seeds or nuts, cover with room temperature filtered water and 2 tsp. sea salt. Leave overnight; then drain and rinse well.
Use any soaked nut or seed that has been duly drained and rinsed. Toss with optional sea salt to taste and place in your dehydrator or low temperature-capable oven, 145 degrees or lower, preferably 105 degrees or lower. For some nuts, such as macadamia or hazelnut, this process of completely drying out the nut can take as long as 72 hours. For smaller seeds, 24 hours may still be necessary. To check your nuts’ doneness, let one or all cool to room temperature. Then eat one. It should be very dry and crispy, no softness or chewiness to the inside. With the exception of walnuts, (which should still be stored in the refrigerator or freezer because their oils go rancid more quickly,) the nuts will have a good shelf life and may now be stored in a sealed container in your pantry.
Homemade Nut Butter
- 2 cups sprouted, dehydrated nuts or seeds
- 2 T. extra-virgin coconut oil, lard, cocoa butter, avocado oil or olive oil
Place ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender and blend for about 8 minutes, depending on desired consistency. Alternately, add the following optional ingredients:
- 2 T. local raw honey
- Celtic sea salt, to taste
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 2 t. cinnamon
This recipe will thicken up in your refrigerator more than commercially made nut butter, but not much. It is scoop-able and spreadable. It will have a subtle coconut flavor if you use extra-virgin coconut oil. I highly recommend adding the sea salt, about 1/8 tsp.
Homemade Nut Meal
Simply blend your sprouted, dehydrated nuts in a food processor or high-powered blender for less than 2 minutes, pulsing as necessary, preventing the nut butter stage from beginning.
To make blanched almond meal, take soaked wet almonds and squeeze each individual one between your thumb and index finger. You’ll get the hang of it; the white nut will pop/squeeze out of its skin. This task is time consuming but can be fun to do with kids helping. Then dehydrate your “blonde” nuts. The purpose of this preparation is that the nut is even easier to digest without its skin. But also the white nut yields a different effect for baking, natural candy making, and snacking.
 “Paleo” refers to a Paleolithic-style eating, which has recently become popular among body builders and those who are trying to heal from significant health issues. The diet was created by Dr. Loren Cordain who asserts, “The Paleo Diet, the world’s healthiest diet – is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age.“ These foods include grass-fed meats and eggs, lots of organic vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit and nuts, and for some, local raw honey. The diet intentionally emphasizes a pre-agricultural diet and stresses avoiding all grains and all refined foods, including sugar.
 As of 2007 California grew the bulk of almonds grown in the United States, at 97%. Twenty-five other states also have at least one almond farm. The USDA recorded Oregon had 31 almond farms, Utah 30 farms, and Virginia 20 farms.
 In 1917, the mandatory pasteurization of milk began. By 2007, selling raw cow’s milk was illegal in 17 states. And in 2011, 3 individuals were arrested for selling raw milk from a retail establishment in Venice, CA.
 According to the non-profit ProCon.org, “In the early 19th century, the alcohol distillery business in the United States began to grow. Large amounts of swill (spent-grains) were produced as a byproduct of whiskey and other alcohol production. Many distilleries opened dairies and began feeding their dairy cows with the waste swill. The low nutritional content of the swill lead to sickness in the cows and in the humans who drank their milk…Confined to filthy, manure-filled pens, the unfortunate cows gave a pale, bluish milk so poor in quality, it couldn’t even be used for making butter or cheese… French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur, considered one of the fathers of microbiology, helped prove that infectious diseases and food-borne illnesses were caused by germs, known as the “germ theory…Pasteur’s research demonstrated that harmful microbes in milk and wine caused sickness, and he invented a process – now called “pasteurization” – whereby the liquids were rapidly heated and cooled to kill most of the organisms.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1935, as part of his New Deal plan, began a program of federally subsidized dairy advertising.
 The Dallas Morning News, April 2012
 The Weston A. Price diet is based on the research of a dentist, Price, who traveled and studied many indigenous tribes, noting the link between dental health and overall health. Those groups who had left behind their native diets for more refined foods had compromised health and dental health. The recommendations of diet that came from his studies are too expansive for a footnote but emphasize fermented foods, saturated fat, grass-fed meat, organic produce, and the absence of all refined foods. Please enjoy this link for more information on the doctor’s findings.
 I believe the research and evidence are indisputable pointing to the importance of this supplement in our diet. Here’s a link that mentions the history and benefits of this super-food as well as the brands that are best to buy.
Anne Summers says
Thanks so much for this education, Megan! Being a major enthusiast of good almond butter, I appreciate knowing how to prepare it for maximum health.
Thank you, Anne! 🙂
Sandi Bellack says
I’m not interested in making my own.j I’d rather purchase sprouted nut butters…
Raia Torn says
Excellent article, Megan! Thanks so much for putting it together so clearly and concisely, without bashing anyone who is addicted to almonds. 😉
Megan Stevens says
Man you people worry too much about what you eat lol just get a jar of nut butter and don’t f***n worry about it just get organic and eat it.
Just do the best you can and go on.
( we all gonna die someday geesh )
Hi Danny, while your comment made me smile and I can appreciate your perspective, many of us have spent years fighting for our health and working hard to feel “normal” again. So, something like rancid food or too many omega 6s and inflammation is actually nice to learn about and helpful, not worrying. We make a change, and see improvement. Also, most Americans don’t ever think about how we destroy our resources, like use way too much plastic or water in desert agriculture. So again, this is great to write and read about, because it’s our responsibility and can be a joy to do better.
Is making almond milk a healthful choice after 12 to 16 hours of soaking in salted water?
Megan Stevens says
Yes, you just want to rinse the almonds well after they’ve soaked and allow this to be a special drink that is not a staple that you consume every day. If you consumed the milk every day it would be too many Omega-6’s in your diet. 🙂
Jennifer Galvin says
Do you recommend a home made hemp milk or another nut milk over almond milk? I love making homemade almond milk. But I’m open to changing to have more omega 3’s, or a better option.
Good questions, Jennifer. It also depends on the rest of your diet and your sourcing for the almonds. For example, if you’re eating a lot of grass-finished beef, then you’re getting a good source of omega-3s. If you’re doing almonds in moderation with the beef, that could be okay. But if you’re doing just a little omega 3s in your diet and a lot of almonds, I’d work to change that ratio. Sourcing-wise, if you’re buying California almonds, I’d look to change to Spanish sourcing or another habitat that they’re native to where they’re grown organically. Other options instead of almonds: the best nuts for us are actually macadamia, although they’re important to buy organic, and I know they’re expensive! (Here’s that recipe if it’s helpful: https://eatbeautiful.net/keto-paleo-macadamia-nut-milk-homemade/ Hemp is higher in polyunsaturated fats than is ideal. Other good nuts and seeds to consider include Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds. One other thought: Have you tried how oat milk does with your body? I was grain-free for over 10 years and never thought I’d return to grains, but have ended up phasing oats back in and found them to be helpful and gentle. So that’s the milk I now drink most often. Hopefully one of those 4 options will be helpful!
Thank you for this detailed explanation! We tend to consume nuts from costco and my guess is those aren’t raw, right? Would you know of any bulk stores in Portland Oregon where I could purchase raw nuts at a reasonable price. Thanks!
Megan Stevens says
We have a company here in Eugene called Hummingbird Wholesale that ships; or you could come down on a Thursday when they are open to the public. They have the freshest nuts anywhere, a huge turnover, high demand. Re Costco, they do sell some raw nuts and their turnover may be good; it’s just hard to know how long they may sit in a field or warehouse before they’re sold. If freshness is a question the vitamin C in your soaking water can help avoid the dangers of rancidity. I don’t know about PDX; but Humm. Wh. is the best anywhere, so might be worth the trip or the shipping rate. Cheers!! 🙂
Thanks Megan….looks like shipping may be my best option right now.
but are the almonds from Hummingbird truly raw? i thought that one could not get raw almonds in this country…i think that you mentioned that …..i’m confused.
Hi Kate, you can order almonds, through various wholesalers, from places like Spain, that are truly raw. Companies like Hummingbird buy from all over the world.
linda spiker says
Fabulous information! I now have my dehydrator and am going to be a dehydrating machine, lol.
Megan Stevens says
Yay!!! What fun you’re going to have and you will love the texture and flavor so much too. They really snap in your mouth when they’re sprouted! 🙂
I read the article but I’m not clear what your opinion would be on the type of almond butter that I’ve been using. I buy organic almond butter that is freshly ground when I press the button on the grinder. Is there a chance these organic almonds are not raw? Or are you worried about the turnover since it’s an expensive item?
Megan Stevens says
Thanks for your question, Sarah. That almond butter is not a good choice for multiple reasons. One is, and most importantly, the nuts are not sprouted. If they are raw or roasted they are still hard to digest and your body can’t access they’re nutrition; plus the phytic acid in the nuts leaves your body mineral deficient. They are likely rancid, too, yes. And if not organic, then contain glyphosate. If you need to buy almond butter and don’t want to make your own sprouted nut butter, then only buy the jarred organic almond butter that says specifically on the label, “Sprouted.” Hope this helps! 🙂
Donald Godown says
Everything you have informed me of is very easy for me to believe about our FDA. I’m a new learner to alot of health issues, and the bigest problem for me is where to purchase organic, sprouted, dehydrated Almonds.
Lindsay Fraser says
Great article. How long do you feel that homemade sprouted nut butters are good when stored in the refrigerator? Even if they are still good, do they loose their nutritional value quickly? Is it different for each kind of nut? Thanks!
Megan Stevens says
Hi Lindsay, thank you. I’m not sure actually. My guess is 6 months. And yes, walnuts degrade the fastest. Beyond that we’d need to look up…yes, it’s different based on the nut or seed’s fat profile. Blessings!
I see this is an old post, but I am hoping you can share your thoughts… Do you think there are health issues with drinking a few cups of nut milk every day if made properly with fresh, soaked nuts or seeds, and rotating the kind of nut / seed used? I like to rotate between almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Due to some health issues, I am currently on a liquid diet, consisting of fresh vegetable juices, homemade bone broth, and nut milks. The milk really helps me feel full. I have been unable to find any good information about health issues with homemade nut milks- most articles refer to commercially made milks. Any insight will be appreciated!
Megan Stevens says
Hi Judy, happy to help. Sorry for the delay in responding; we just returned from a trip. Based on my own experience, I believe there are seasons in life when we make certain nutritional choices to get us through a time and to reach a certain goal in healing. For you this may look like lots of soaked nut and seed milks, because you have so little else. You need those carbs and that protein. I say, YES. 🙂 But on a broader diet, I think it’s too much of the same thing and may still cause a food sensitivity or be too many anti-nutrients, even properly soaked. So I’d give yourself that freedom now, and enjoy, but just listen and watch for symptoms, so you can back off if needed. Eventually you could have less because you’ll have other options in your diet. Blessings!!
Hi! I just read this article. Would you put coconut milk in the same category, or is this safer to drink? I use coconut milk and cream as a staple in my shakes and cooking.
Megan Stevens says
Coconut milk is super healthful, a completely different category, especially if homemade. 🙂 But I’d be cautious of factory-made coconut milks that have additives. I do buy canned coconut milk occasionally, but it’s not a staple; and I typically avoid the canisters with lots of added ingredients and even vegetable oil.
This was one of the worst articles I have ever read. It took way to long to make a point and I’m not sure if there is a clear point of the article other than to sell a book. Starting with the conclusions for such an overly complex article may have been a good idea. Food for thought for future articles.
Adriana Wollmann says
Very nice article Megan!
Wich milk do you think we can drink every day?
Is home made the olny option?
Megan Stevens says
Hi Adriana, I personally drink raw cow and goat milks, as my body loves them. But my dairy-free daughter drinks a variety of dairy-free milks: coconut, hemp and rice. We make homemade coconut and hemp milks, very easy in the blender; and I very occasionally buy her rice milk as she loves it (but it’s not great, with added oil). Canned coconut milk is also fine, in moderation and without sweetener, in my opinion. We also make soaked pine nut milk, although we haven’t recently. It’s my favorite dairy-free milk. Just soak the pine nuts over night in salted water, rinse in am and puree with water, adding other ingredients like scant sweetener if desired. 🙂
Adriana Wollmann says
Thank you very much.?
What about almonds like Wild Soil that are steam pasteurized and (I think) sproutable? They also claim their standards are above organic as well. The flavor on them compared to the PPO pasteurized is amazing.
I too just bought Wild Soil. Have you found anything else out about them? I too think their flavor is amazing.
Hi Julia, great question. Their attention to freshness, quality and good growing conditions are encouraging. On the flip side, their almonds are not “activated” (soaked and dehydrated) to reduce phytic acid (although roasting helps some), to protect against rancidity or to make them easy to digest (our bodies can’t access the nutrients when a nut is dormant). I think they’re a much better option than most brands! But they’re still almonds grown in California = sad use of water. I’d love to see crops in CA that are native to the desert it is or at least with lower water needs.
Getting Real in Your Kitchen says
Really great information. I am just wondering how long raw, sprouted almond butter lasts before there is a risk of it going rancid.
when is nutrition going to become science, and evidence-based science , instead of ever changing personal opinions?
JW Kirby says
I have long suspected most nuts in general, and almond butter on particular, is rancid! My nose is pretty keen! There’s a certain dude selling all kinds of almond butter nationally, which have been awful on my several experiences. Anyway, thanks for bringing this to forefront.
William Colburn says
Watch out for SEA SALT…the fda does not regulate this product and it may contain umami ingredients like MSG which are not necessarily on the label.
Just to let you know halfway through reading this article, an ad for McDonald’s popped up. I don’t know if this is something you have control over, but it’s not the sort of ad you want on your site! Great if on almonds btw, I don’t use them a great deal but I wasn’t aware of the pasteurization thing.
Hi, thanks for letting me know! Ads are usually based on a reader’s viewing history. But I appreciate knowing because I do have some control. 🙂
Thank you for the pillars of selecting good almond butter! I always thought they were healthy in moderation, but never knew we should not buy them pasteurized! I’ll be smarter next time I spend our hard earned money on almonds (especially from bins) or almond butter! Great article as always, Megan! Also, so we want more omega 3’s than 6’s, right? But, what is the proper ratio?
Hi Deborah, you’re welcome, and thanks for your comment. 🙂 One way of looking at omega-6s that’s helpful is that they cause inflammation. In contrast, omega 3s are needed by the body, but we can only get them from food; our bodies do not produce omega-3s. Chris Kresser explains that, “the more omega-3 fat you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation. A diet of a lot of omega-3 and not much omega-6 will reduce inflammation.” Kresser suggests that a 1:1 ratio is ideal and similar to what our ancestors ate. What others have mentioned that is even more important is the quality of fats we eat. We really don’t need to count if we’re being aware of balance, careful to avoid rancid fats and factory-raised meat fats meanwhile seeking out fresh foods (with bioavailable nutrients) that are raised with care.
mark nicholson says
love the article and great info to know.. I have dealt with gut issues for past 3 years and something i just caught in the article says almond milk is not good and every single day i use it in my protein shake in morning with greens and avacado.. I guess ill use water and was wondering why my shake bloats me somedays… Is there a great website or book or resourse for the proper food so i can get past all these
hidden chemicals in the food so i can beat this candida,ibs,leaky gut etc etc.. I eat very healthy but still not healing and im sure a lot of my organic diet there is something hidden thats hurting me…
also i just ordered your pumpkin nut butter
Cara Taylor says
I disagree with recommending lard in your recipe.
If you can get the lard from homegrown local farmers, it is not hydrogenated and should be safe. In my case, I would be raising those animals . Currently, most of my tallow comes from my goats and sheep, who have a nice packing of fat to get them through the winter. I guess it’s only humans that are unhealthy when fat.
Chauncey Raiford says
Thank you so much for sharing this information. This was my confirmation.
So, are nuts labeled as “raw” not actually raw, then?
And if they’ve already been pasteurized or roasted, what problems does that pose? Thank you.
Hi there, it depends on the nuts. For example, cashews are not raw, even when labeled raw. Almonds are not raw, even when labeled raw, unless imported from a country that does not require pasteurization or purchased from a small local farmer who can account for their history. Pasteurized and roasted nuts can no longer be sprouted or activated, so this makes them higher in phytic acid and harder to digest (harder to access their nutrients, rougher on the GI tract and stomach). A roasted nut still has reduced phytic acid, but not as much as if it was activated first and then dehydrated. Many people will wear down their digestive mechanisms over time by eating nuts that aren’t sprouted.
As far as ‘raw’ cashews, Divine Organics are supposedly really raw. They do a cold process with their cashews.
People may want to go to their site, and ask some questions. They are the only cashews i use, but who knows if they are truly raw. The bottom line is that companies want to sell their products. $$$$$….
Thank you for your reply. Our coop now has almonds from Italy that are not pasteurized…..they used to carry unpasteurized almonds from Sicily, but i noticed that the almonds they have now are Italian. I did some research a while back, and the almonds coming into the US are steamed ( i guess it’s not quite like pasteurization) . I think it’s a bit difficult to get the solid truth about almonds. I was buying truly raw almonds ( $12 lb.) from a gal in town several years ago, that was getting them directly from some almond farm in California, and i think they were really raw. The way to tell if an almond is raw is to soak it, and if the skin refuses to peel off ( pop off) easily, they are raw. Steaming or pasteurizing causes the skins to come off easily after being soaked, as it’s really similar to blanching. The almonds from both Sicily and now the ones from Italy occasionally have a VERY bitter almond in the batch. They are horrible….and sure taste like they contain cyanide. ugh.
I think i may just give up on the almonds and make milk from coconuts…..i think that’s the safer way to go. Thank you. kate
That sounds like a good conclusion. Coconuts are a sustainable crop, and the milk is healthy and delicious. 🙂
Sandi Bellack says
Not interested in making my own. Not everyone has the time to wants to do it themselves. I buy sprouted nut butters. I’m just hoping not being pasteurized is okay and safe.
Joel Godin says
Thanks Megan on your research.
Here’s my story. I was eating lots of almond butter from TJ and
soon I was getting headaches every day. I felt fluid was collecting in my head when I slept and
had to raise the pillow to keep my head high or I felt my head would explode.
Long story short, I found 3 things would bring on a headache, honey, chocolate, and almond butter.
I cut these three out and my headaches stopped on a dime. No more fluid to the head feeling.
And I thought I was eating healthy, lol.
Hi Joel, thanks for sharing! It’s true, there are so many “super foods” that are actually not healthy for us to consume regularly. Sometimes we find this out because we start eating them all the time, instead of barely ever, and symptoms come on. I’m glad you figured it out.
1. what is the source of the vitamin c crystals? Not abscorbic acid, is it?!
2. which Brand/Model is a good dehyrator, please? With no plastic parts, I would think; and long-lasting? Any recommendations?
3. A good water purifier? Any recommendations? (Purification differs from filtering and reverse osmosis, yes/no?
When sprouting almonds does it change the omega 6vs 3 ratio or is it not effected? If it does change it, do you know what it is?
Hi Liz, great question. Actually, sprouting reduces the overall fats in nuts or seeds, while it boosts the protein content and vitamin and mineral bioavailability. So the omega 6:3 ratio does not change, but the omega 6s do reduce. (Specifically, sprouting boosts the bioavailability of the minerals: phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium tied up in phytates, and increases levels of amino acids and protein [Vitamins B2, B5 and B6] by 50% while decreasing fats and carbs by up to 25%.)
Ellen Hodges says
That was a wealth of information Thanks for taking time out to research such valuable information an enlightened us l will now cut back on process Foods they are not Healthy for the body they are only quick fix. Into the long run we slow down and age quickly whenever feed our self on them Thanks again
You’re welcome, Ellen. Thank you for your kind comments, and I’m so glad the article is helpful!
Ellen Hodges says
I had my comment written my email not going through to you
Hi Ellen, I got your other Comment and just responded, so all is well. 🙂
I only found your site today and I’m glad I did.
I have been drinking Almond Milk every day for months. The milk I have been buying is better than most. It is called Inside-Out unsweetened Almond Milk with only 4 ingredients. (this is from Sydney, Australia). The ingredients state:
Almond Milk (99%), Filtered Water, Activated Almonds (9%), Sea Salt, Vegetable Gum (Gellan)
I don’t understand how the Activated Almonds are only 9%. and the Vegetable Gum isn’t good.
My main concern is the Omega 6 content. Also I have been itching all over a lot so I may have an allergy.
I’m sorry for such a long comment. I’m very interested in you cookbook
Hi Angela, yes, the omega 6 content is a great thing to be aware of, and great to try and get to the bottom of the itching. Finding the right milk can be so hard. If at some point you’re eating grains, you might also look at Malk’s Oat Milk, which is the cleanest, best non-dairy milk I’ve found.
Thank you for this article and information! Will take it into consideration. If I had to buy almond butter, I don’t eat it often, would it be ok from Whole Foods dry roasted almonds as the only ingredient be ok?
Hi Fs, honestly, this is not one I would buy or eat, sorry to say. I would look for the companies that offer an organic almond butter, and those that are organic and sprouted. Two that come to mind are by Wilderness Poets and Artisana. Ideally, not from CA almonds (unless it’s a company working with low water growing methods, which is beginning to happen; there are some transitional farms doing this), but I understand that it’s hard to check all the boxes.
Thank you =) I’ll see if I can find those brands. Or maybe do cashew butter, maybe that is better.
Great. Cashews often have mold; sorry to be a downer, and some other issues. The best in my opinion are sprouted pumpkin seed butter or macadamia nut butter. Happy to help, and best!