Rumours have always surrounded almonds about whether or not they are actually beneficial to you. But, what was once highly disputed, it’s been confirmed that they are, in fact a Superfood.
To sum it all up, almonds can dramatically decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, reduce your weight (without hunger) and add nutrition – vitamin e – and natural oils that reduce the signs of ageing like wrinkles and sagging skin.
In their natural state, almonds contain almost entirely ‘good’ fats or monosaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. They are also packed full of essential minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides more evidence that suggests almonds are one of the most heart-healthy food around. They also have more dietary fibre and more calcium than any other nut.
Almonds originated in Central Asia, growing wild along the ancient Silk Road trade route. Merchants travelling between China and the West traded and used almonds themselves, spreading them throughout the ancient world. They grow in a hot, arid climate and spread into those climates in the Middle East to Northern Africa and around the Mediterranean
More research, conducted by the University of Toronto, found that almonds are as powerful at reducing cholesterol and the build-up of fatty deposits in arteries as a statin drug – often taken to prevent the condition.
Just a handful of the nuts can provide 50 per cent of our daily intake of Vitamin B6, which is essential to keeping the nervous and immune systems healthy. The same amount also gives nearly three quarters of the recommended amount of Vitamin E, key to maintaing a healthy heart.
To maximize the nutrients found in the buts, enjoy your almonds with the skins (rather than blanched), as flavanoids are concentrated there.
Health and maintaining wellness is a choice you make every day, with every meal and snack you eat. Superfoods, like almonds, are foods that have been used for centuries for their nutrition and healing properties – try and get them into your diet more often.
Femalefirst Taryn Davies
Recipes with Almonds
Apricot and Almond Tart
Why not put your baking skills to the test by whipping up an Apricot and Almond Tart? It tastes great hot or cold, Delicious! This dessert looks impressive and tastes divine. The sharpness of the apricots works really well with the sweet almond mix. Serve warm or cold with some low fat crème fraiche.
Preparation time: 20 Minutes plus cooling and freezing
Cooking Time: 50 Minutes
You will need: a 12.5cm x 35.5cm loose-bottom tart tin, greaseproof paper and baking beans
250g plain flour
125g low fat spread
For the almond filling:
100g low fat spread
10g granular canderel yellow sweetener
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
6 apricots, halved and stoned
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ Gas 6. Add flour to a large bowl along with a pinch of salt, then add the low fat spread and rub in with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add about 1tbsp ice-cold water and bring the mixture together. Don’t let it get over wet.
Turn out onto a floured surface, roll pastry out and use to line the tin. Neaten and trim, then prick all over base with a fork. Line pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans.
Put in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until beginning to turn golden around edges, then remove the beans and paper. Put the pastry case back in the oven for a couple of minutes, to crisp up the base.
Turn the oven down to 180°C/Gas 4. Add low fat spread and sweetener to foodmixer bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Then add the eggs slowly and beat to mix. Now stir in the ground almonds until all is combined then spoon evenly into the pastry base.
Sit the apricots cut side down into the tart, pushing them gently into almond mixture. Put in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the mixture is lightly golden and cooked.
Leave the tart to cool a little, the mixture will continue to set. Slice and serve warm or cold with low fat crème fraiche.
Tip: Use ready bought light short crust pastry if you prefer. You can vary the fruit to suit the seasons, peaches, plums, apples, pears or berries would all work well.
Cherry and Almond Tart
Makes 3 x 23cm Tarts each
1 x 1.5kg pack Jus-Rol™ Frozen All Butter Shortcrust pastry– thawed
1.5kg (3lb) fresh cherries – washed and stoned
325g 12oz) butter
325g (12oz) caster sugar
325g 12oz) ground almonds
6 medium eggs
Preheat oven to 200ºC, (180ºC for fan assisted), 400ºF, Gas Mark 6.
1. Divide pastry into 3 equal pieces, roll out each to line a 23cm / 9″ flan tin. Put to chill whilst you prepare the filling.
2. Cream together the butter, sugar and almonds, then beat in the eggs.
3. Scatter the stoned cherries in bases of flans, divide and spread the almond mixture on top and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until pastry just golden. Then reduce oven temperature by 20º and continue baking for further 20 minutes until almond mixture is set and dark golden brown. Serve warm or cold.