Nuts and Seeds – Wawan’s Guide to a Healthy Diet
Nuts are one of the most satisfying and nutritious snacks you can add to your diet. If you don’t eat nuts, you’re missing out on some seriously good nutrition.
Nuts might be high in fat and calories but as with all food, portion control is key. Besides, the fat is mostly healthy, unsaturated fat, and all the nutrients you get for those calories makes nuts worth fitting into your diet.
Nuts are also the perfect snack food, full of protein to satisfy your hunger and keep you full longer. To add it to your diet, you could also include nut butters such as almond, walnut and peanut butter for an easy and healthy alternative; they’re great spread on apples or blended into a wholesome smoothie too!
Nuts and your health
Nuts and nut butters provide healthy unsaturated fats, protein, a little fiber, and an array of vitamins and minerals- including vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. A number of studies have shown that nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels and improving other risk factors. Sterols in nuts help lower cholesterol, while arginine (an amino acid), relaxes blood vessels and prevents blood clotting.
Many people think nuts are “fattening,” because of their high fat and calorie content, but adding them to your diet, while compensating calories, will not lead to weight gain. If you incorporate them into your diet the right way, you may even lose weight as nuts can be more filling, compared to high-carb snacks that might leave you hungry again in a short time.
Here are a few examples of nuts that are a great addition to your diet, along with their benefits:
Walnuts – These nuts are richest in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat. Omega 3s are not produced by the body and must be supplemented in our diet through healthy food choices. Research claims that the addition of walnuts to your diet helps prevent heart disease through a healthy supply of lipids. Walnuts also secure bone health as they aid in the absorption of calcium.almonds are a surprising source of calcium.
Almonds – You can boost the population of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract by consuming almonds
Peanuts – These contain as much protein as poultry, fish or meat. They are also one of the best sources of arginine and the only nut that contains resveratrol (an antioxidant also found in grapes and soy that may protect against heart disease).
Pistachios – These contain chlorophyll which has many health benefits. In a way, they are the nutty equivalent of kale.
Understanding nut products
You might think you’re doing yourself a favour by avoiding oil-roasted nuts and eating dry-roasted instead, but the calorie difference between them is actually negligible. Most of the fat and calories you get come from the nuts themselves, not from any oil that may be added while processing them. In some cases, roasting actually increases the antioxidants. Focus instead on the added sodium in packaged nuts. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk, unsalted or lightly salted nuts are ideal.
Nut butters are a good alternative as they contain all the same good nutrition that nuts do. Most peanut butters grind in some of the peanut skins, which contain potentially beneficial compounds. Still, there are a few possible drawbacks to nut butters. Some may contain added oil so make sure it is not in the form of partially hydrogenated oils- a source of unhealthy trans fats. Nut butters may also have added salt and sugar, depending on the brand. Keep in mind that almost all nut butters contain 100 calories per tablespoon.
Nuts: Good-to-know facts
● Nuts in their shells will keep for about 6 to 12 months if stored in a cool, dry place, but shelled nuts only about half as long.
● Despite containing fat, nuts are actually very good for you since these are healthy fats which support the functioning of your body.
● If a “natural” nut butter separates, it hasn’t gone bad, just give it a stir. You can put it in the refrigerator to keep it from separating between uses.
Healthy grocery shopping tips for nuts
● Buy either dry-roasted or oil-roasted nuts: the calorie difference is negligible. If you’re not a fan of roasted nuts, raw nuts should do the trick.
● Look for unsalted varieties. Salted nuts have 300 to 600 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams so you could surpass your recommended salt intake for the day. Lightly salted nuts are a preferable since they contain 135 to 285 milligrams per 100 grams.
● Look for nut butters that do not contain added sugar or partially hydrogenated oils. You can even experiment with different ones, like almond, cashew and hazelnut butters.