We all love to munch nuts especially during the cold nights of winter and the first thought that comes to one’s mind about nuts is a lavish treat. Nuts are nutrient-rich, edible seeds of fruits, delivering healthy fats, proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Researched to aid heart health and preventing cancer, nuts are packed with disease-fighting agents, though not all nuts are equal in their nutritional credits.
Read on to know how different nuts are distinctive in their nutritional content and how you can incorporate them into your daily dietary regimes to get the utmost benefit.
This calcium-rich nut is on the top of our list because of its benefits regarding bone and heart health. This vitamin E enriched seed helps keep your skin smooth and beautiful so if you are on a diet, they not only make an excellent snack but also take care of your skin (dieting can cause a dull looking skin). Consuming whole almonds is heart-healthy because of its flavonoid content.
According to one study, eating almonds every day helps reduce total body cholesterol and belly fat. Another study published in the ‘Journal of the American College of Nutrition’ showed that increasing almond intake helped improve insulin sensitivity in adults with prediabetes. Other studies have revealed its benefits regarding memory protocol and protection against breast cancer.
Delivering a good source of protein, iron, and zinc, cashews are particularly important for individuals who follow a vegan diet. Their high magnesium content aids in memory retention and memory protocol in senile dementia. Though lower in their fat content than other nuts, cashews contain nearly 80 percent of the fats as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are ideal for heart health.
3. Brazil nuts
Being a rich source of selenium, a few Brazil nuts a day would keep you thyroid working at optimal levels in case of hypothyroidism. Selenium is also a potent antioxidant that combats free radical damage in the body.
Owing to this reason, it is a topic of research regarding prevention form cancer and in one such study from Canada, the mineral was shown to prevent lung cancer in individuals with a low selenium status. In another study conducted in 2013, a single serving of Brazil nuts was found to significantly lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol within just nine hours of consumption, making it one of the heart-friendly nuts.
Hazelnuts are rich in manganese, copper, vitamin E and thiamine. Due to their folate content, hazelnuts are the nut of choice to reduce the risks for development of heart disease and Parkinsonism. Folate keeps in check the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid raised in the aforementioned conditions.
A study carried out in Turkey found that a hazelnut-enriched diet “reduced total cholesterol by nearly 8 percent, dropped triglycerides by 7 percent and increased beneficial HDL cholesterol by 6 percent compared to a control group”.
Still another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a positive correlation of consuming hazelnuts with raised vitamin E levels in the blood.
Walnuts are another variety of favorite nuts on everybody’s list. A healthy source of protein and minerals like manganese, copper, and magnesium, walnuts are a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, an absolute essential for heart and brain health. Their antioxidant content makes them an effective tool in preventing cancer.
An animal study conducted in 2011 showed that supplementing rats with walnuts significantly improved their learning abilities and memory protocol. Walnuts are also important to protect against heart disease by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.
These beautiful nuts with a pinkish green hue can help balance hormone levels in women with disturbed period patterns owing to their vitamin B6 stores. Containing lutein and zeaxanthin, they also benefit a healthy vision.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition states, “eating two to three ounces per day of pistachios improved blood lipid levels and lowered the ratio of bad LDL cholesterol to good HDL cholesterol.”
In addition to maintaining cholesterol levels, another study revealed the role of pistachios in balancing the blood sugar levels after a carbohydrate enriched meal. Pistachios have also a scientific backing regarding their role in improving motor function, blood vessel functioning, reducing the oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Some considerations while selecting a nut
- Go for minimally processed nut packaging
- Opt for shelled nuts because of their preserved oil and natural fat content
- As far as possible, choose nuts that are not pre-seasoned, flavored or roasted
- A nut selection that is unsalted, dry-roasted and raw, organic nut butter are healthier versions with a preserved nutritional status
Though nuts are a source of healthy fats, they are nutrient dense dietary items with a load of calories. Limiting your portion size to less than a handful would ensure you do not add figures to your existing scale units.
Always be aware of nut allergies, especially with children, that can be subtle in nature or cause a life-threatening situation.