L’Almondaine

Great skin, slender waists and snack attacks

I have loved almonds for as long as I can remember — but I vividly recall how this began as a horticultural obsession. A hot pink tropical almond fruit fell into our garden from a massive tree with red and green leaves — it was not perfect — gnawed on by chipmunks conceivably but that fuchsia stain on my hand was thrilling. Our gardener told it was an almond and I was incredulous. Then we went indoors and used a hammer to carefully split it apart and inside the corky shell was one very slender nut with the thinnest skin — I was beyond thrilled at the idea of having gathered food without even knowing — I had helped pick mangoes and guavas but this was like no fruit I’d known. That primitive thrill that shoots through one even in the most mundane weekly shop. This of course set me on a path of collecting all the stray almond fruit I could and publicly declaring a love of almonds.

My family was so delighted that I expressed interest in a snack — I was a picky eater as a child — so they got me big bags of American almonds. I was given 10 soaked skinless almonds each morning to imitate the delicate flavour of the tropical almonds. It was not until I was 17 and started to do my own shopping that I got into almonds with their skins on and into roasted, toasted almonds. I eat almonds everyday and have been so happy to discover all the skin and health benefits they endow.

  1. Vitamin E — almonds are powerhouses of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) which is a magnificent anti-inflammatory and and combined with the flavonoids in the almonds skin the effectiveness is super-charged. I will write another day about its topical benefits of photoprotectiveness but just know that Vitamin E supplementation is just not as effective as dietary sources like almonds. Skin-wise it works with Vitamin C to replenish collagen. Also good sources of copper, magnesium, phosphorous etc but for skin Vitamin E is key.
  2. Slender waists — there is a slew of studies on the impact of almonds in reducing LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol and its role in reducing heart risk. But the one I find most of interest is that the unsaturated fats of almonds whittle waistlines! I think this is important because there is a normative position one can take about fat but unsaturated fat is crucial to good skin.
  3. Snack Attacks — the unsaturated fat discussed above also makes almonds crucial to managing that tricky concept of satiety. Almonds have protein and unsaturated fats that helps them address hunger mid-morning or mid-afternoon. They are also portable and don’t cause a major hassle if they spill. The world is full of sweet temptations — we have to be prepared to gird ourselves to resist these — one way is to carry a snack and it’s so much the better if the snack takes the edge of hunger.

I don’t have a strong position on how almonds are consumed though the ayurvedic position of soaking almonds to release enzymes has some credibility. Roasting and frying are suboptimal ways of eating anything for nutrition and raw almonds are best but the salty toasted ones fend of the snack longings quite well. I do not consider almond milk a source of almonds — this is psychological but I don’t think there’s a big danger of me drinking too much almond milk. However, it’s best to pre-package almonds into little handfuls and keep them in various bags at the ready to smooth skin, whittle waists and stave off hunger with myriad health benefits. Allergies-aside we can all learn to love almonds!

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