Going nuts for nuts
During and after Christmas probably most of us have eaten nuts or have nuts in the pantry, nuts are always part of the foods in the festive season
Nuts are such a versatile food, toss them through your salad, sprinkle them as a tea cake topping, or simply have them as a snack. They are nature’s own little gem, high in fibre, protein and healthy heart friendly fats, ideal for anyone’s diet. But how much is too much and which nuts are best?
First of all choose the unsalted nuts. We get plenty of salt in our processed foods (including breads and cereals) so we don’t need the extra salt as salt can raise our blood pressure, check out my previous blog about salt in your diet. A raw nut or dry roasted is the choice. Steer clear of the nuts which are oil roasted or are coated in sugars such as honey or chocolate as these coatings just undo the goodness of the nut.
Studies have shown a small handful of nuts (30g) daily is protective against heart disease and diabetes. So try and include nuts as one of your snacks each day to get this benefit. Due to their high fibre and fat content nuts are very filling so if you do get afternoon cravings and high hunger at the end of a long day at work nuts are ideal for an afternoon snack and to tie you over to dinner. Be wary though as due to their high fat content nuts are very energy dense so you need to keep your portion control on track and stick to the 30g otherwise you will inundate yourself with too much fat and this will lead to weight gain.
Nutritionally all nuts are great as they all include a range of healthy unsaturated fats which are important for heart health and cholesterol management, but some nuts have some added benefits.
If you want to improve your omega 3 fats, choose walnuts. Omega 3 fatty acids are the one fat I find a lot of my clients do not get enough of. Omega 3 fats are important to protect the heart and help keep cholesterol at a healthy level. Choose a mixed nut pack which includes walnuts or toss some walnuts through your salad.
Almond is the nut that is highest in calcium. Calcium is important for bone health, so if you struggle on your dairy intake you could at least try some almonds in your diet. For a double hit of calcium try adding some almonds to your vanilla yoghurt as an afternoon or after dinner treat or blend an almond mix into your morning smoothie.
And did you know just two brazil nuts can provide you with your daily selenium requirements, selenium is an antioxidant which may protect against heart disease.
So start incorporating some nuts into you snack choices and start reaping the benefits.
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