Time to Get a little Nutty

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Why Nuts?

Nearly all nuts, raw or roasted, are high in monounsaturated fats that actually keep us heart-healthy and disease-free. Nuts are a great source of protein and fibre, and many contain vitamins and minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6.

Scientific studies have also showed that eating a range of different types of nuts and seeds can actually prevent heart disease, the accumulation of LDL cholesterol as well as weight gain – mostly due to their insoluble fibre that helps to keep you fuller longer as well as their satiating fat and protein.

Raw Versus Roasted

Since the 1990’s there’s been a lot of research into the dangerous chemical triggered by amino acids through roasting raw nuts. Acrylamide is the potentially threatening bi-product of the amino acid asparagine, which occurs in roasted nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts.

At first roasted nuts may seem to taste because oily fats get released through the heating process. And whilst it’s true that some nuts are less affected by roasting, it is preferable that all nuts be organic, eaten in their raw state, and not irradiated or roasted.

Health Benefits of Nuts

It’s been clinically shown that eating nuts will generally lead to:

  • A decrease in body mass index and waist circumference
  • A lowering in systolic blood pressure
  • A lowering in weight generally
  • A lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol

Do Nuts Make You Fat?

Any food in excess will stack on the kilos. And eating too much of a good thing will not give you more benefit, it will actually give you less including weight gain. But a small handful of healthy raw is actually a better snack choice than a snack high in complex carbohydrates. In fact there’s even a study that showed adding almonds to a low calorie diet lead to:

  • 62% showing a greater reduction in their weight/BMI
  • 50% showing a greater reduction in waist circumference
  • 56% showing a greater reduction in body fat

The Top Five

Almonds are the king of nuts in my book. They are high in antioxidants including vitamin E and selenium and help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. They are a good source of insoluble fibre and may play an important role in preventing colon cancer. Almond milk is often used as a milk substitute as it contains significant amounts of calcium. And just ten raw almonds a day will give you around 20% of your daily magnesium.

Brazil nuts have fast become my favourite nut. I call them the ‘Happiness Nut’ because just one Brazil a day will give you your daily dose of selenium which helps thyroid metabolism and boosts your mood. Selenium also functions as an antioxidant and in redox reactions. Brazils also contain copper, niacin, vitamin E, magnesium and insoluble fibre and studies show that this protein-packed nut may also aid in the prevention of breast cancer.

Walnuts are considered one of the most beneficial nuts on the planet. This is because they’re packed full of an antioxidant known as ellagic acid, as well as 16 disease-fighting polyphenols. It’s not surprising then that studies show that consumption of walnuts is related to better heart-health and cognitive function, as well as the reduction of skin and bone conditions.

Pecans are the new kid on the block, relatively speaking with recent clinical studies showing that this nut significantly lowers cholesterol (without the pie though). Pecans are a great source of twenty essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamins B2, B3, B6, C, E and K, Thiamin, Folate and Pantothenic Acid. And they’re also a high-quality source of protein, fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats making them a well-rounded nice guy.

Hazelnuts contain vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and are one of the best sources of Vitamin E. They also contain calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, protein, dietary fibre and arginine which is an amino acid which helps to relax blood vessels. Their folate helps reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and depression. But don’t get your source from Nutella, which contains only 13% hazelnuts which have been highly manufactured (not to mention all the other additives). Try to buy hazelnuts raw in the shell as they do tend to go rancid quickly when packaged.

A Final Word on Nuts

With healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols and an abundance of vitamins and minerals, nuts really do pack a powerful nutritional punch in a tiny bite-sized package. But remember to keep your consumption in moderation.

The best once a day nut snack selection is:

  • 10 raw almonds (with skin)
  • 2 raw Brazil nuts
  • 5 raw Pecan Halves
  • 4 raw Walnut halves
  • 5 raw hazelnuts

This will yield:

  • 229 Calories
  • 5.4g Protein
  • 4.0g Carbohydrates (of which 1.4g is Sugar)
  • 23.1g Fats (of which only 2.3g is saturated)
  • 3.3g Fibre
  • 0g Cholesterol
  • 0.9mg Sodium
  • 55.7mg Calcium