Nuts & Health: An Overview
Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are all nuts that are packed full of beneficial nutrients for good health. Enjoying nuts regularly as part of a healthy diet has been shown to protect the heart and may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating nuts in moderation can have benefits for weight control and nuts naturally contain a broad range of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals.
WHY SHOULD NUTS BE PART OF A HEALTHY DIET?
Health authorities around the world recommend eating more plant foods for good health. This is because plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds provide protection against many of the common lifestyle related issues seen today. The traditional Mediterranean way of eating, which includes plenty of plant foods, is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world! People of the Mediterranean, include nuts daily in the diet.
- Healthy Fats
Just because nuts are high in fat doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. Nuts are a great source of the good fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – which are essential for regulating blood cholesterol. Nuts high in monounsaturated fats include macadamias, cashews, almonds, pistachios, and pecans. Nuts high in polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and Brazil nuts.
All nuts contribute fibre to the diet and eating foods rich in fibre, especially soluble fibre, helps to satisfy hunger for longer. Dietary fibre helps to lower blood cholesterol and is essential for healthy bowel function.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect tissues in the body from damage. An average serve (30g) of mixed nuts provides ~20% of the recommended daily requirements.
Folate is a B vitamin associated with heart health, cancer protection and a lower risk of birth defects in newborn babies. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, cashews, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts provide some folate.
- Magnesium Magnesium is a mineral essential for good nerve and muscle function and for strong bones. An average serve (30g) of Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews provides more than 75% of the recommended dietary intake for magnesium.
Zinc is needed for many processes in the body and is necessary for a strong immune system, and healing and protecting the skin. A third of a cup of cashews, almonds or pecans provides more than 15% of your recommended daily intake.
Selenium is essential for a well functioning immune system and thyroid gland and it also helps protect cells in the body from damage. Brazil nuts are particularly rich in selenium with just two nuts providing all of your daily requirements!
Antioxidants found in nuts include flavonoids and a compound called luteolin. These substances help slow down the aging process and help protect the body from a range of lifestyle related diseases.
Arginine is an amino acid or building block of protein that helps keep blood vessels healthy. Sources of arginine include almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and pistachios.
- Plant sterols
Tree nuts contain plant sterols, substances that reduce cholesterol absorption from the gut. Pistachios, cashews, almonds and pecans provide plant sterols.
Try the following to enjoy nuts as part of your healthy eating plan:
- Munch on pistachios as a pre dinner appetiser
- Sprinkle almonds or cashews through a stir fry
- Roast chestnuts or pine nuts and toss them through a salad
- Chop walnuts and add them to a dipping sauce
- Crumble pecans or walnuts into a yoghurt dessert topping and serve with fruit
- Sprinkle chopped, roasted hazelnuts or almonds onto low fat ice cream
- Crumble macadamia nuts or pistachios onto grilled fish
- Add roasted pine nuts to your favourite pasta dish
- Make a great pesto by blending pistachios or macadamias with fresh herbs, parmesan and a little olive oil
This information was provided by Nuts For Life. Images & Videos were provided by Nuts For Life.
For further information on nuts and health, refer to www.nutsforlife.com.au or phone 02 8295 2300
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