Go nuts for nuts
For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/
Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are nutrient packed gems. A golf ball-sized portion (about 28g) of unsalted nuts makes an energy boosting and mood enhancing snack and, unlike some less healthy options, supplies a mix of important vitamins and minerals. Due to their high fat content they make you feel satisfied and don’t raise your blood sugar levels too rapidly. They are also great mixed in with some healthy seeds
But watch out that golf ball size could have about 180 calories. All nuts have different nutritional and health benefits – find your perfect snack partner with my guide…
Nuts are an allergen to some people, so before you add them to dishes etc please make sure that no one is allergic to them. See my blog about allergies and intolerance
On Wednesday 27th May I went to BBC radio Nottingham to talk to Mark Denninson about nuts and whether they are good or bad. Have a listen to the 5 minute interview. No guesses for my viewpoint!
If like some people you struggle to digest nuts (or seeds) or they give you tummy troubles, then try soaking them (and draining afterwards) for 8 hours or so or the night before. It really helps to make them more digestible as soaking breaks down the phytic acid and neutralises the enzyme inhibitors.
If you avoid dairy, calcium-rich almonds are a good choice to ensure you’re getting enough of this bone-building mineral. Almonds are also high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help them with their skin intact, because the almond’s skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.
Ideal for those with low thyroid function, Brazils are a good source of the mineral selenium, which we need to produce the active thyroid hormone. Selenium also supports immunity and helps wounds to heal. People with depression often have low selenium levels. You only need three or four Brazil nuts a day to get all the selenium you need
Because they contribute a good level of protein and are a useful source of minerals like iron and zinc, cashews make an excellent choice if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet. They’re also rich in the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss. Add a handful to a vegetarian stir-fry or try my homemade nut-butter on crackers or bread.
By far the nut with the lowest fat and calories, chestnuts are rich in starchy carbs and fibre, and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. They’re lower in protein than other nuts but make a useful contribution of B vitamins including B6. Ground chestnut flour can be used as a gluten-free flour for cakes and bakes, or buy fresh and roast for a tasty snack.
Choose hazelnuts if you’re concerned about high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which has been associated with heart problems as well as conditions like Parkinsons. Hazelnuts are a good source of folate, which plays a key role in keeping homocysteine within normal levels. Folate is also good if you have aneamia
With one of the highest fat contents, macadamias should be eaten sparingly, but they work well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Although high in fat, they do supply good levels of the healthy mono-unsaturated variety. They’re a rich source of fibre and make a useful contribution of minerals including magnesium, calcium and potassium. Buy in small batches and store carefully to avoid rancidity.
Heart-friendly pecans are packed with plant sterols, useful compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. They’re rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado. As a good source of vitamin B3 pecans are the perfect option if you’re fighting fatigue because this vitamin helps us access the energy in our food.
Being especially rich in vitamin B6, which is important for keeping hormones balanced and healthy, pistachios are a good option for those with problem periods. They’re the only nut to contain reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play an important role in protecting the eyes. Pistachios also contain potassium and fibre – in fact a 30g serving has more than three times that supplied by the equivalent weight of plums.
Try and buy the shelled version, because removing them from their shells takes more time therefore you are less likely to over eat and consume more calories
Their excellent antioxidant content means walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. They’re also a good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). They’re also rich in omega-3 (needed for a healthy brain function – they look like a brain*), so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.
*Foods that look like the body part they help
Walnuts – brain (omega 3)
Celery – bones (silcon, sodium and magnesium)
Carrot – eyes (beta-carotene)
Ginger – stomach (phytochemical ginerol)
Sweet potato – pancreas (vitamin B6)
Avocado – uterus (hormone balance)
Swiss chard – the circulation system, veins
So whats your thoughts on nuts – Friend or foe?
And if ‘friend; whats you’re favourite nut