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Nuts about Christmas

by Mariëtte Abrahams

No Christmas is complete without ample supplies of fruits and nuts. But which ones are best to serve?

In theory, all fruits and nuts are good in moderation but more recently walnuts have received particular attention by obtaining a positive EU health claim for their effect on vasodilatation, thereby improving blood flow.

In order to benefit from this effect, a daily amount of around 30g (roughly a handful) should be taken.

Evidence is also mounting for the prebiotic effect of almond skins, which are high in pectins, a soluble fibre. Soluble fibre aids in normalising bowel functions.

Research has found that after almond skin consumption, the population of colonic microbiota increased resulting in providing the body with energy through increased fermentation and absorption of short chain fatty acids (that is a good thing).

Larger trials are needed to confirm this finding.

Therefore, for a truly healthy festive season it would be wise to:

• Serve a bowl mix of nuts and dried fruit as healthy nibbles (the uncandied versions)

• Serve dark chocolate to increase your antioxidant intake as a dessert

• Eat almonds with the skins on to increase fibre intake

Garnish your main dishes with nuts

Merry healthy Christmas!

Mariëtte is a registered Dietitian with over 10 years experience within the NHS as a Gastroenterology dietitian and as a Scientific Affairs Advisor in the Medical Nutrition industry. She is a certified Nutrigenomics practitioner and has a special interest in personalised nutrition, functional food and wellness. She runs a Nutrition and Wellness clinic at Quinta do lago Family Medical Centre and Vale do Lobo medi-spa. Contact Mariëtte on [email protected] or visit