Healthy hand­ful

Al­monds are packed with good­ness, says Liz Con­nor

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

SMALL, ro­bust and teardrop-shaped, al­monds might just be one of the most ver­sa­tile snack foods go­ing. They can add some crunch to your salad, give a nutty kick to a smoothie, form a healthy crum­ble top­ping and even be pul­verised into a lac­tose-free milk al­ter­na­tive.

Packed with high lev­els of fi­bre, vi­ta­min E and pro­teins, al­monds are one of Mother Na­ture’s great­est snack foods — and, since they’re easy to grab on the go, there’s no messy prepa­ra­tion in the kitchen ei­ther.

Con­sul­tant di­eti­tian Lucy Jones says we should snack on no more than a hand­ful of al­monds a day for a healthy sum­mer snack, and sug­gests you also look for un­salted va­ri­eties, to make sure you’re keep­ing your blood pres­sure in check.

Here are some of the health ben­e­fits you can reap from adding al­monds to your diet...

1. They can help you to con­cen­trate Strug­gling to fo­cus? Re­search has shown that al­monds can help. “A re­cent study pub­lished in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nutri­tion that in­ves­ti­gated the ‘post-lunch cog­ni­tive crash’ (when our mem­ory and at­ten­tion starts to dip in the af­ter­noon) found that eat- ing a high-fat lunch with al­monds re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cantly smaller declines in mem­ory scores, com­pared to a high-carb lunch without al­monds,” says Jones. This is be­cause al­monds are packed with nu­tri­ents im­por­tant for brain health, in­clud­ing vi­ta­min E, fo­late and un­sat­u­rated fatty acids, and L-car­ni­tine which has been found to have brain­boost­ing, neu­ro­pro­tec­tive ben­e­fits.

2. They’re good for your heart The high fat in al­monds can seem alarm­ing at first glance, but don’t panic; they’re mainly mono- and polyun­sat­u­rated, the kinds that ben­e­fit your heart. Jones ex­plains that al­monds con­tain linoleic acid, an im­por­tant fatty acid which con­trib­utes to the main­te­nance of nor­mal blood choles­terol lev­els, re­duc­ing the risk of coronary heart dis­ease.

3. They’re great for your skin Al­monds are se­cretly the health­i­est and cheap­est way to get an A-lis­ter glow. “Al­monds are high in zinc and ri­boflavin, and a source of niacin, which all con­trib­ute to the main­te­nance of nor­mal nails and skin,” ex­plains Jones. “They’re are also rich in vi­ta­min E, which can help to pro­tect cells from the ox­ida­tive stress caused by pol­lu­tion, UV rays from the sun, ci­garette smoke and other en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors — all of which con­trib­ute to the skin age­ing process.”

4. They can help you to lose weight Plan­ning to shed a few pounds be­fore sum­mer? “A 2014 study pub­lished in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Nutri­tion found that a mid-morn­ing, 42g snack of al­monds, com­pared to no snack, helped to con­trol ap­petite and re­sulted in a re­duced calo­rie in­take for par­tic­i­pants, for lunch and din­ner,” says Jones.

5. They’ll give you en­ergy Al­monds are a great al­ter­na­tive to caf­feine-loaded drinks, like tea and cof­fee. They come loaded with good nutri­tion that will power you through a long shift at the of­fice. “Al­monds are a source of en­er­gis­ing plant protein,” says Jones. “There are around 6g per 28g por­tion.” As well as op­ti­mis­ing brain func­tion with pro­teins, they also con­tain a po­tent mix of fi­bre and healthy fats to help you to stay fo­cused, no mat­ter what the day may bring.

So, next time you’re think­ing of snack­ing on sug­ary sweets or choco­lates, try tuck­ing into a hand­ful of nu­tri­ent-rich al­monds in­stead.

POWER-PACKED: Al­monds pro­vide many health ben­e­fits, but you should stick to small por­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.