Though we think of almonds as nuts, technically they're the seed of the fruit of the almond tree. Nut or seed, this is one high-fat food with serious nutritional firepower. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in almonds are the monounsaturated kind, a healthful fat shown to reduce circulating levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol. Almonds are also chock-full of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects against cognitive decline and several cancers. The fiber in almond skins may exert a prebiotic effect and increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut to improve digestion and bolster immune defense. To keep your calorie intake in check, limit yourself to 1 ounce (about 25 almonds) per serving.
Choose It & Use It
Almonds are classified into two categories: sweet and bitter, with the former most often sold in stores. Enjoy them as a snack, or toss into granolas, oatmeals, salads, and pilafs. Eating almonds with their skins intact provides more antioxidants. Spread almond butter on hearty whole-grain crackers and bread.