Nuts….a nutrient powerhouse
Nuts are one of the first foods that most people will think of when asked to come up with a healthy snack suggestion.
Fruit, vegetables and nuts! But apart from the obvious “they’re good for you” line…WHY?
Aside from being an easy, on the go snack, these nutrient powerhouses contain essential vitamins, minerals, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Yes, they may often be high in calories, but these are not empty calories. Meaning that you stay fuller for longer and are helping your body to meet macro and micro nutrient requirements for the day.
Proving the point that sometimes it’s just about getting back to basics and eating the original “superfoods”. Studies have shown that nuts have some pretty positive health benefits with regards to certain chronic health conditions. Research published in 2008 (based on epidemiological studies) reported that those who consistently ate nuts within their diets reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%.
Possibly the most convincing of studies was an analysis of 120,000 individuals followed over a 30 year period. It was concluded that those who ate nuts lived longer than those who didn’t, and also had higher levels of HDL cholesterol (our “good” cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL cholesterol (our “bad” cholesterol). In addition to healthier blood pressure.
Are all nuts created equal? No, so while ALL nuts contain the heart healthy fats and protein as written above, each are unique in what they are able to provide to our body nutrition wise. For this reason it is important to get a variety in your diet where it is appropriate to do so.
Some examples are:
Rich in antioxidants as discussed in a recently published study which demonstrated their ability to help lower risk of chronic cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. They are rich in unsaturated fats and are a great way to increase intake of omega 3. Especially if you follow a plant based diet or opt not to consume fish.
High in a mineral known as selenium. The body uses selenium for hormone function within the thyroid gland. While not just essential for thyroid function, selenium is important for overall health and antioxidant status, it is vital to note that as it is a trace mineral it is not needed in large amounts so portion control is important, 2-3 brazil nuts in a serve is all that is required. Check out our tasty Brazil nut pesto recipe here!
They’re hard to get to but are well worth it! Pistachios boast a nutrient profile which includes folate, copper, magnesium, manganese potassium and vitamin A. The pistachio nut is a an all-rounder which is lower in calories than most other nuts. For those who have been professionally advised to follow a calorie controlled diet, pistachios are a good option.
But what about activating? This concern is surrounding phytates and their binding capacity with other nutrients. In a nutshell (haha) research indicates that activating may help with nutrient absorption and digestion. However, for many it may just be one of the barriers from eating nuts at all. In this case I advise that you do what suits you. A nut will still contain healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre, regardless of whether they are activated or not. Vitamin and mineral targets should be reached if a varied diet is being consumed.
by Adelle Rutch ~ Flannerys Nutritionist
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