The smell of almonds always reminds me of balmy evenings on the verandah in the Tuscan countryside, watching the sun set whilst greedily dipping mandorla (almond) biscotti one after the other into clinking glasses of sweet, moreish vin santo (and eating the whole pack, of course).
Ever wondered why Italians live so long and have such good skin? Well, I sussed it out by watching the children. Italian children are taught from an early age how to crush almonds to get at the creamy goodness inside, and they’ll sit in the yard under an almond tree and crush and eat almonds like our children eat popcorn (or worms, age-dependent).
And, did you know that almonds are actually seeds and not nuts? Anyway, meet the Italian cousin: the Almond.
Brimming with vitamin E, this clever, delectable and extremely versatile seed is also a sun blocker. A study of over 100 volunteers had them eat 14 mgs of the vitamin a day (about 20 whole almonds) and then exposed to UV light. Those that had eaten the almonds were reported to have burned less than those who ate none.Vitamin E works as an antioxidant and helps to protect the skin cells from UV light and other environmental factors which generate those nasty cell-damaging free radicals.
Almonds have been used all around the world for its health properties for centuries. The Victorians apparently pinned almond blossom on their blouses to represent hope. In China, it is a symbol of beauty and sadness.
The oil from the seed contains two essential fatty acids, antioxidants and phenols, the protective chemicals which work just like antioxidants to repair sun damage. They also help protect against diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers and they protect the skin.
The fatty acids are Omega-3, which your body needs as they help to regulate your blood sugar, yet can’t make on its own, hence the ‘essential’ bit. They also help to REDUCE BODY FAT (yes, you read that right!) reduce blood pressure, maintain muscle mass which is important when you lose weight and as you get older, and support the immune system. Not forgetting the protein which the skin needs protein to support its cells or the magnesium which helps your cells to counter the effects of stress, thus, fighting the dreaded ageing process. Obviously it’s got to have plentiful calcium too, to help your cells absorb all these nutrients. Oh and if that wasn’t enough: it helps to calm acne!
Why don’t you buy some vin santo, bake this fantastic recipe for biscotti con mandorle, and see if you don’t look younger after you’ve finished them both!