Next time you fancy a handful of nuts, reach for almonds, brazils or walnuts. Almonds are one of my favourites, partly because of their versatility. They are delightful on their own, shelled, roasted or, less healthily, sugared. They can also be ground and added to soups, desserts or even porridge, for extra protein - an ideal meal for convalescents. Grind them yourself in a food processor to make sure they are really fresh, but you will have to dip them in boiling water quickly first to make it easier to remove the skins.
Almonds are the richest nut source of calcium, making them particularly useful for vegans and those with dairy allergies. They are also a great source of essential fats and B vitamins and contain some iron, potassium and magnesium. For many years herbalists have used almond milk, made from ground almonds and water, for the relief of chest infections and digestive problems. Brazil nuts are also nutritious, containing vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin and iodine. They are high in fat, but it's mostly monounsaturated, which is essential to our diet. However, due to a high fat content, they can go rancid so it is best to buy small amounts at a time and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They are also a good source of selenium, a major antioxidant that is important for the immune system, thyroid hormone metabolism and reproduction. Selenium can also help prevent damage to cells and tissues. The average British diet does not contain much of this important element. Walnuts also warrant a brief mention as they contain omega 3 essential fats, which are vital for healthy brain function. Like almonds and brazil nuts, walnuts are a great source of protein and slow-release energy, and provide reasonable amounts of potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamins B6 and E. Their antioxidant properties make them ideal for anyone with heart or circulatory problems. Walnut oil is also delicious - use it as a salad dressing, drizzled over vegetables or added to bread recipes.
Be what you want to become.