Nuts are typically a dried fruit with one or two seeds. Botanically speaking, nuts are a composite of seed and dry fruit found inside of a hard outer shell . Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, horse chestnuts and pine nuts are not nuts. So the health warning on a packet of peanuts (“may contain nuts”) is, strictly speaking, untrue .
Most nuts are dense in energy and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. Due to this they have been a favourite food group amongst vegetarians and health conscience individuals. Nuts are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and provide other cardioprotective properties. In addition to providing healthy fats, nuts also contain high amounts of fiber, protein, Vitamin E, and a variety of essential minerals.
Raw nuts contain the highest amounts of these healthy nutrients. Roasting nuts reduces the antioxidant content and can reduce the amount of healthy fats. In addition, some roasting methods add other oils which may not contain the same health benefits as the oils found naturally in the nuts .
A golf ball-sized portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals. All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits .
What makes nuts so good is that different nuts have different properties of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. So consuming say just one Brazilian nut a day will ensure you get more than 100% if your recommended daily allowance of Selenium.
Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse. Antioxidants help control free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced as a normal part of metabolism. Free radical production increases in response to heavy sun exposure, stress, pollution and other causes. Although free radicals can play a beneficial role in immune response, having too many can lead to cell damage. When your level of free radicals is too high, your body is said to be in a state of oxidative stress, which increases disease risk .
Although they're considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts may actually help you lose weight. One large study called the PREDIMED study assessed the effects of the Mediterranean diet. Analysis of data from a subgroup of the study found that those assigned to eat nuts lost an average of 2 inches (5 cm) from their waists, which is significantly more than those assigned to eat olive oil. Almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss rather than weight gain in controlled studies. One study found that pistachios may also be helpful for weight loss .
In one study of overweight women, those who consumed almonds lost nearly three times as much weight and experienced a significantly greater decrease in waist size compared to the control group. What's more, even though the calorie counts listed for nuts are quite high, studies have shown that your body doesn't absorb all of them. This is because a portion of fat stays trapped within the nut's fibrous wall during digestion .
Although a great deal of research suggests that nuts can benefit heart health and reduce the risks of dying early from heart disease and other causes, the evidence is still inconclusive. But unless you're allergic to nuts, there's no real danger in eating nuts, so you can certainly include nuts as part of your heart-healthy diet. One way nuts may help your heart health is by lowering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels. LDL plays a major role in the development of plaque that builds up on the blood vessels. Eating more nuts has also been linked to lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease. Eating nuts may also reduce your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also appear to improve the health of the lining of your arteries .
Many of the bad nuts in this world actually come from the way humans process them and not so much the nuts themselves. Avoid the following:
Buying nuts in bulk can help you save money but be careful when you go snacking that you don’t sit down with the huge package and start munching away, chances are really good that you are going to overeat. Grab a handful, and then put the package away !
There has been much talk of peanuts containing carcinogens and that they should be avoided at all costs. The carcinogen you’re referring to is aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain strains of the mold Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus that grow on peanuts stored in warm, humid silos. Peanuts aren’t the only affected crops. Aflatoxins have been found in pecans, pistachios and walnuts, as well as milk, grains, soybeans and spices. Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen, known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals and may contribute to liver cancer in Africa where peanuts are a dietary staple .
If you love peanuts, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to eat them – and peanut butter – in moderation. While they’re really legumes, not true nuts, peanuts (and peanut butter) do contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. However, I still prefer almond butter and cashew butter, because they have a better fatty acid profile. And for snacking, I tend to choose raw, unsalted cashews, almonds or walnuts (which are Omega 3 sources). If you do go for peanut butter, look for brands containing only peanuts or peanuts and salt. Avoid those with hydrogenated oils, sugar and other additives .
In conclusion, I would suggest that having a handful of nuts daily as a snack is a great way to intake ‘good’ calories and help ensure that you’re fuller for longer. They are certainly a better choice than a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. As always, processed nuts and foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support with good snacking habits or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com