Nuts about nuts? If you are a fan of any kind of healthy diet you will no doubt be into eating nuts and seeds. They provide a power punch of nutrients, good fat and anti-oxidants. They are cheap and easy to get on the move making for a perfect snack….
Main Benefits - To me the main benefits of nuts comes from their abundant source of minerals like Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc which are pretty hard to get in todays diet. They also provide good levels of nourishing fats which help promote the health of body and mind. Obviously some nuts are better than others but they all hold their qualities;
- Almonds - A Vitamin E powerhouse and probably the most versatile nut when it comes to taste. They are great with fruit or alone and provide a nice crunch making them the perfect “grab a handful” nut.
- Walnuts - The only nut packed with Omega-3′s thats why if you only eat one type of nut make it the Walnut. They are tasty sprinkled on Berries or Yoghurt and work a treat with Apple’s or some strong Cheese.
- Brazil Nuts - Just 3 of these will provide you with your daily intake of Selenium, a potent anti-oxidant which is one of the tried and proven to cut your risk of developing many diseases.
Those are three of my favourites and definitely something you should aim to have in your diet daily. Of course there are loads of other great nuts like Macadamia’s, Pecans (especially tasty) and Cashews (Actually a legume but good nevertheless) not to mention seeds which are awesome for sprinkling on things or snacking on.
What to Avoid - Well there are some things which you would consider a nut but actually are not, The most guilty being the “Peanut” which is actually a legume and this makes them unfavourable in comparison to the other nuts. They have a high Omega-6 fat content, while not the end of the world it doesn’t compare to the 3-6 fatty acid ratio that Walnuts hold. The main thing for me though is that Peanuts are often contaminated with carcinogens and mould basically putting a load of stress on your immune system and body in general. They are also one of the most pesticide ridden crops around!
Saying this Peanuts are not the end of the world and I always keep a tub of organic whole-nut peanut butter at home for a few reasons; They are packed full of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Folate which are hugely beneficial to your health. Fresh Organic peanut butter is also great on carrots and celery allowing you to make quick and healthy snacks and condiments. So long as you don’t eat too much of the stuff and stick to it in moderation I feel Peanuts are a healthy option but make sure you go for fresh, quality and organic!
Too Little - So how many nuts are too few? Nuts are pretty much the best source of monounsaturated fat you can get, this stuff makes your skin supple and provides general nourishment for your glandular system. Unfortunately the body cannot make it by itself so it rely’s on diet making it essential you get some nuts, seeds or olive oil in whenever you can….
Just Right- I would say eating around 40-60 grams of nuts per day is optimal, there is not much harm in going higher so long as the rest of your diet is in check. Sixty grams of nuts amounts to about 2 handfuls which should be doable for even the busiest person.
Too Much- Its easy to overdo it on nuts. Not only calorie wise but through mindless eating. I have been to many a dinner party in which the cocktail nuts got the better of me….. The main problem with a high intake of nuts is that they can be very hard to digest in large quantities putting a strain on your digestive system. Once you start hitting 100grams of nuts that should be enough for the day unless your severely limited for food choices….
Nuts are amazing and definitely a power food we should all eat regularly. Just make sure to stick to raw, fresh nuts when you can……
Also steer clear of trail mixes which are loaded with sugary dried fruits and chocolate chips etc, although they are touted as healthy they are far from it. Instead create your own trail mix by mixing;
- Sunflower Seeds
- Cocoa Nibs
- Coconut Flakes
- Handful of Raisins
Its far cheaper and allows you pack specific portions as you please. Its best to make a batch in a large jar and use it as you go along…