Dr Libby on dates and almonds
Dates and almonds are one of nature’s most delicious combinations. Dates seem to be experiencing a resurgence in popularity appearing in everything from smoothies to truffles to slow cooked casseroles.
Known by many as the fruits of paradise they certainly live up to their reputation. Medjool dates are the king of dates, they are much larger than pitted dates and have a rich caramel flavour. They are sold whole and fresh and can be found in most grocery stores. Medjool dates don’t just taste great, they are a source of many nutrients. They are a good source of copper, which helps your body form red blood cells, essential to carry oxygen through the body.
Dates are also an excellent source of iron, an essential component of haemoglobin inside the red blood cells, which influences the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. They are a moderate source of vitamin A, which is well known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision.
Vitamin A is also essential for maintaining healthy mucous membranes and skin. Consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A has been shown to be protective against lung and oral cavity cancers. The humble almond packs a nutritional punch and is such a useful staple to have in the pantry. Raw almonds are an easy, nutritious snack in the afternoon when your blood glucose levels tend to flatten. The high protein, fat and fibre content of almonds can help you feel more satiated as this slows the release of glucose into your blood. Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, both of which are proven to be protective for heart health, in fact almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E — a small handful of raw almonds contains a significant proportion of your recommended dietary intake.
Almonds are versatile and are used all over the world from curries in India to desserts in Morocco. Significant research into the health benefits of nuts has been undertaken recently especially in regards to cholesterol metabolism. In some studies as little as a handful of raw almonds a day has been shown to raise HDL (protective) cholesterol and reduce LDL (consideredun-desirable).
Interestingly there is also evidence to suggest that almonds can improve skin complexion and texture, and many skincare companies include almond oil in their products.
Adding dates and almonds to your diet
- Take the stone out of a Medjool date and fill it with a couple of raw almonds. The sweetness from the date and the crunch from the almond provide a great alternative to a piece of chocolate.
- Dates are delicious in baking or in seed and nut truffles and can be used to sweeten dressings or chutneys.
- Almonds make a delicious, dense replacement for white flour in baking and almonds or almond butter is a delicious addition to any smoothie.
- You can also increase the nutritional component of your stir-fries, salads and desserts by adding chopped almonds before serving.
Here is a sensational breakfast smoothie recipe using almonds and dates.
For recipes that use dates, go here.
For recipes that use almonds, go here.