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Nuts about almonds

From fertility charm to treatment for stretch marks, almonds work wonders

As I approach the last few weeks of my pregnancy and my stomach’s roundness takes on odd angles and corners as baby loses extra room, my skin is stretching to its maximum point. There are many folk remedies for the prevention and treatment of stretch marks – most depend on a daily regimen of rubbing one’s stomach with cocoa butter or various other "special serums" to soften the skin. Unfortunately, science has proven that no amount of cream can prevent or treat stretch marks, and that instead, they should be worn as badges of honour for passing into motherhood.

With my first pregnancy, a friend of mine, who is Colombian, pulled me aside and with pointed index finger sternly commanded that I eat six almonds a day. This would prevent stretch marks, she said, without causing too much weight gain. She maintained that topical creams would do nothing for the skin as it needs to be nourished from the inside out with the oils and vitamins from the nuts.

With this, my second pregnancy, another friend, who is East Indian, advised me to eat almonds on a daily basis. The preparation of the nuts was important to their success as a "pregnancy tonic" – they need to have boiled water poured over them and be left to soften overnight before being eaten.

These two folk remedies from two different continents might have some merit to them. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Of the eight different forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol, the vitamin E found in almonds, olive oil and avocado for example, offers superior nutritional quality than the other seven. Synthetic forms of alpha-tocopherol, in pill form or in fortified foods, pale in comparison with the benefits and effectiveness of the vitamin in the body when taken from its naturally occurring sources. One ounce of almonds, approximately 24 nuts, delivers 7.5 mg. of alpha-tocopherol. Compare that with one tablespoon of olive oil (1.7 mg.) or one cup of avocado (2.0 mg.). The recommended daily intake for alpha-tocopherol vitamin E is 15 mg for people aged 14 through 70+ years (including pregnant women (if breastfeeding, it jumps to 19 mg). For anyone who would like more info, I poached this off the "Get your vitamin E" Web site (

Vitamin E helps prevent the breakdown of fatty acids in cell membranes by unruly, unstable atoms or compounds called free radicals (usually unstable oxygen). Free radicals are natural byproducts of cell metabolism. Interestingly, vitamin E also prevents "bad" cholesterol from adhering to arteries by preventing free radicals from attaching to LDL molecules which makes them sticky. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant but it also plays an important role in protecting muscle cells and red blood cells.


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