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February 16th is National Almond Day.  But you shouldn’t need an excuse to eat almonds.  They are one of the healthiest snacks you can eat!

Reaching for almonds instead of another snack has a lot of advantages.  The first is your waistline.  Almonds help control blood sugar levels, and because they are a high fiber food they are very filling and help you to control your appetite.

Among the health benefits listed for almonds are: lowered cholesterol, helps prevent heart disease and attacks, is considered a “brain food” and helps prevent dementia and Alzheimers.  Almonds are also known for aiding bone and dental health and can prevent certain cancers.

Nearly every ancient civilization used almonds. By 4,000 B.C. people were cultivating almond trees, which blossomed well in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Originally from central and southwest Asia, almonds became a staple food there that helped sustain the long journeys of nomadic tribes. Wild stands of almond trees grew near trade routes such as the Silk Road that connected central China with the Mediterranean. Easy access allowed for the spread of the wild almond groves because almonds took route in the ground on which they fell.

Initial attempts to grow almonds in America were met with little success. The thinking was they would grow in southern states such as Texas, New Mexico and Georgia. But the early blooming almond regularly fell to late frosts in those areas or to diseases of high humidity.

Then in the 1850s, plantings near Sacramento, Monterey and Los Angeles showed promise and a new industry was born for California growers. Today, the state of California is the biggest producer of the world’s su​pply of almonds.  After California, which grows 80% of the world’s supply of almonds, Spain is the second largest almond producer.

Be sure to try our Almond Banana Smoothie recipe to get more of the goodness of almonds into your diet!  You can also make your own almond milk for a delicious dairy free alternative to milk.