The health benefits of nuts
We’ve put together a guide covering a variety of the most popular, healthiest nuts available, taking a look at the wide-ranging health benefits of nuts.
They have even been linked to helping lower cancer risk.
However the fat and calorie values are a worry, so as with everything moderation is the key.
Fibre, Vitamins & Minerals
A handful (about 30g) of unsalted plain nuts in your diet give you a vitality boosting snack providing protein, fibre, valuable vitamins and minerals as well as unsaturated fats. Avoid nuts covered in salt.
All nuts contain fibre, fibre makes you feel fuller and helps lower your cholesterol. It can also help with type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented by eating more fiber.
The good fat in nuts, unsaturated fats (mono and poly) is thought to lower cholesterol levels too.
Plant sterols added to foods like orange juice and margarine to help lower cholesterol, is found naturally in some nuts.
The healthiest nuts?
So which are the healthiest nuts? They all offer different health benefits so let’s take a look at a few of them….
Almond nuts have extensive health benefits and can be used as a healthy solution for constipation, coughs, anemia and diabetes.
These nuts are low in carbs but high in protein, fibre and healthy fats so are ideal for diabetics and in helping to manage weight as the fibre and protein are known to increase satiety making you feel fuller thereby eating less.
Almonds give protection to the heart as the skin is full of flavonoids and magnesium helping to lower blood pressure. They also lower the bad cholesterol in the blood.
If dairy foods cannot be tolerated almonds are calcium rich so ensure you get enough of the bone building mineral needed.
Walnuts have many health benefits including the improvement in the metabolism and the control of diabetes. These nuts also have anti-inflammatory properties and aid weight management.
These nuts are useful in the fight against cancer as walnuts contain a superior antioxidant.
They are also heart friendly as they contain mono-unsaturated fats and studies have shown these help lower bad cholesterol.
Being packed full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; both well known for having weight burning properties, they can be a great snack for mums hoping to loose a little weight after pregnancy.
Also if you do not like oily fish walnuts are rich in omega-3 so offer a great alternative, plus they taste delicious!
Sweet and nutritious, Hazelnuts are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium these minerals provide many health benefits including blood pressure regulation.
Being gluten-free they are an ideal alternative food source for gluten sensitive sufferers.
An excellent source of Vitamin E which is a powerful soluble antioxidant which protects the skin from harmful oxygen free-radicles.
These nuts are rich in a folate that helps keep the levels of the amino acid homocysteine normal. This amino acid has been linked to Parkinsons and heart problems.
The nutty aroma of hazelnut oil is used for cooking as well as a carrier oil in aromatherapy massage.
Crunchy and delicately sweet, cashews have the lowest fibre content of any nut but are a good source of protein and iron and zinc minerals.
Cashews are ideal for vegetarians as a handful a day provide enough minerals to prevent deficiency disease.
Cashews are rich in heart friendly mono-unsaturated fats and help to lower harmful cholesterol.
Age related memory loss is improved by the levels of the mineral magnesium contained in cashews.
The nut butter made from cashews is delicious on crackers or bread.
5. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts have been used by native Amazonians for a long time providing them with proteins, fats and essential nutrients. For anyone who has celiac disease brazil nuts are gluten-free and are used in the preparation of gluten-free foods.
Selenium, the mineral which is ideal for anyone suffering from low thyroid function is contained in brazil nuts, this mineral also supports body immunity, helps to prevent coronary artery disease and cancers. It also helps to heal wounds.
Three to four brazil nuts a day give you all the selenium required by the body.
Brazil nut oil is extracted from these nuts and is used not only as a cooking oil but also as a carrier oil for aromatherapy massage oil, with its emollient properties helping to protect the skin from dryness.
6. Pecan Nuts
Richly flavoured Pecan nuts are one of the most popular edible tree nuts, they are rich with many nutrients that are essential to your health so by adding a handful of pecan nuts to your diet, it will help give you sufficient levels of minerals, protein and vitamins.
Plant sterols are packed into Pecans, compounds that effectively lower cholesterol levels.
They are rich in antioxidants that prevent the hardening of the arteries.
They contain the healthy fats that are contained in olives and avocado, this is called Oleic acid.
Pecans are also a good source of vitamin B so help us fight fatigue as this vitamin helps the body access the energy in our foods.
No only do Chestnuts have the lowest fat and calorie content out of all of these nuts but they also have a number of important health benefits they help to manage diabetes, help boost the immune system and lower blood pressure.
Chestnuts are high in starchy carbs and fibre and raw chestnuts are a good source of vitamin C.
Other nuts have higher protein contents than that of chestnuts but they do have B vitamins including B6.
For people on a gluten-free diet flour made from ground chestnuts can be included in their diets for cakes etc.
Recognised for their wholesome nutrition properties pistachio’s have good sources of proteins, fats and minerals.
B6 is important for keeping hormones balanced and pistachios are rich in this vitamin as well as the important B-complex vitamin group.
The antioxidants that protect eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin are contained in pistachios, the only nut to contain these antioxidants.
Research suggests that these and other anti oxidant compounds contained in pistachios may help reduce the free–radicles in the body protecting the body from cancers, infections and disease.
A serving of 30g of these nuts contain three times more fibre and potassium than the same weight of plums.
Pistachio oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils, having a pleasant nutty aroma. It can also be used as a carrier oil used in massage therapy’s.
9. Macadamia Nuts
Sweet and delicious these nuts are a rich source of fibre but are high in calories and fat, supplying good levels of the mono-unsaturated fats, which are heart friendly.
One of the most popular, edible nuts packed with the health benefiting minerals, magnesium, potassium, selenium and calcium which are essential for wellness.
Very useful in savory recipes this nut is gluten-free but only buy in small amounts and store carefully as these nuts can go rancid!
10. Pine Nuts
A sweet and scrummy nut, pine nuts are small edible seeds that are crunchy and butter textured. They come from the female cone of a pine tree.
Pine Nuts are one of the gluten-free tree nuts and like a few of the other nuts mentioned above, they are a fantastic source of vitamin E.
They are also packed full of calories with 100 g of dry-kernels providing around 673 calories mainly coming from fats, mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid which has been known to help with lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol at the same time.
They have numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and are a great source for vitamin B.
One of the best sources of manganese, which helps with the bodies resistance against infectious agents and oxygen-free radicals which are harmful, this wonderful nut also supplies us with high amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium.
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