Despite its high fat and calorie content, the almond is starting to emerge as one of nature’s so-called ’superfoods’.
‘Most of the fats in almonds are monounsaturated. It has been shown this can lower cholesterol and so reduce the risk of heart disease,’ explains Dr Joanne Lunn, of the British Nutrition Foundation.
According to the University of Toronto, almonds help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and atherosclerosis – the narrowing of the arteries due to a build-up of fatty deposits – as much as a statin drug.
A 15g (1/2oz) handful of almonds contains 92 calories, but can also provide 50 per cent of our daily intake of Vitamin B6, essential to maintain our nervous and immune systems. The handful also provides nearly three-quarters of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin E, important for maintaining a healthy heart.
‘According to a study by King’s College in London, it seems that their fibre structure may help block absorption of fat and carbohydrates and improve satiety – which could help prevent weight gain and stave off the onset of diseases such as type 2 diabetes,’ explains nutritionist Fiona Kirk, who says almonds can aid weight loss despite their high calorie content.
Almonds are also rich in essential minerals, such as magnesium (good for energy production and bone health) potassium (controls the balance of fluids in the body and may help lower blood pressure) and calcium (keeps bones strong).
Almonds should be eaten raw and unsalted, as shredding or grinding them can remove valuable fibre.