You might think i’m insane, to say that nuts are one of the most beneficial food products on the market but, there is some real research into why this may be the case. I love nuts, I love nut butters and I love to put both of these into just about anything I bake. One, because I like the taste and two, because it might just save my life….
Nuts have been around for hundreds and thousands of years and our ancestors lived on a diet of them, root veg, leaves, seeds and fruit similar to the diet of a Chimpanzee. There is a lot of confusion over whether our ancestors were carnivorous or vegetarian, but either way, nuts formed a major part of our ancestors diet.
Most of us have been brought up believing that nuts are unhealthy, full of “bad” fat and are just as bad as eating crisps. This is a common misconception possibly caused by the beer and nuts phase of the 90’s. Growing up in a lot of pubs and social clubs a lot of the big beer drinkers used to also have a giant bowl of nuts with their beers, I always thought it was the nuts that made them fat, but now I know it was probably their portion sizes mixed with the beer that contributed to their larger physics.
Over the last ten years, there has been more and more research into the health benefits of nuts and why many health experts and nutritionist recommend these as a staple in any healthy diet. Here are my top 15 nut benefits:
15 REASONS TO EAT MORE NUTS
1. SLOWS THE PROGRESSION OF DIABETES
Studies have always believed weight loss to be the only effective method in preventing type 2 diabetes developing from a pre-diabetic state. But, now scientists have discovered this isn’t always the case. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated like those found in nuts and seeds has been proven to reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes progressing from the pre-diabetic state.
2. BENEFITS TO THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Nuts contain the micronutrient zinc. Zinc is known to be beneficial to our immune system, helps heal cuts and wounds, supports growth and benefits all round health. Zinc deficiencies is partly responsible for the lowered immune functions of third world countries and contributes to their higher mortality rates. Zinc deficiencies can also cause: dry skin, loss of appetite, loss of taste and smell, stunted growth, loss of eyesight and diabetes.
When combined with a healthy diet, nuts are beneficial to obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight. However, nuts are still high in calorie and fat so it is important to ensure portion sizes are being controlled effectively. A study at Georgia University found your calorie burn is increased for up to 3 hours after eating Almonds and a different study has shown that after eating pistachio nuts for 3 months people lost between 4 & 5 KGs.
4. DECREASES THE EFFECTS OF AGING
Nuts, specifically Almonds are stacked full of Vitamin E, which you may notice is in a lot of skin creams and sun lotion, that’s because it is great at defending the skin against the sun’s harmful rays. We all know that leathery old look is not too graceful so Vitamin E is the way forward. Nuts are not only great at slowing down the aesthetic signs of ageing but they also assist in preventing cognitive decline and memory loss.
5. FITNESS AND MEN’S HEALTH
Nuts are packed with protein as well as healthy fats. Protein is a necessary nutrient when following a fitness regime. Protein helps repair damaged muscles after exercise and promotes muscle growth. Walnuts are particularly beneficial to men as they help prevent erectile disfunction, lower bad cholesterol and give you a big dose of energy boosting vitamins and nutrients: Vitamin B, E, Magnesium and Protein.
6. HEALTHY FATS HELP DIGEST FAT
The body requires healthy fats in order to run effectively, it’s like fueling a car. Our body uses fats like a car uses oil, it keeps everything moving correctly and smoothly. Fueling your body with healthy fats stimulates your body’s fat burning ability and helps protect it against heart diseases. Remember though that not all fats are “good fats”. Trans fat is a fat that should be avoided and saturated fats (although proven not to be as bad as previously believed) should still be limited as these can contribute to the decline of heart health. However, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are the good fats – though, these still should be limited, healthy fats are still fats and they are much higher in calorie for the amount.
7. KEEPS YOU FEELING FULL
A lot of commercial diet groups believe you should be eating low fat diets. That means, low fat yogurt, low fat cheese, low fat everything but low fat usually means high carbohydrate and high sugar and unlike fat this doesn’t keep you as full for as long. Protein and Fats are brilliant at keeping your body satiated and what’s great, is that nuts are full of protein and fat (and not so much sugar). That means you stay fuller for longer and don’t replace those healthy fats, omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and proteins with carbohydrates and sugars.
8. MUSCLE RELAXATION AND SLEEP
Nuts, specifically almonds are loaded with magnesium which helps encourage muscle relaxation leading you to a better night’s sleep. Nuts stabilise the body’s blood sugar by supplying the body with protein. Sleep deprivation can lead to an elevated risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, loss of sex drive and diabetes. So, if eating some nuts as a bedtime snack instead of your usual sugary desert could benefit your health and help you sleep better than it’s really a no brainer.
9. LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
Almonds and Cashews are useful at lowering blood pressure. Their magnesium content is useful at correcting high blood pressure. Low magnesium diets have been scientifically linked to high blood pressure complications. A third of adults do not have their recommended daily allowance of magnesium and it is the second most common nutritional deficiency after vitamin D and it is likely to contribute to the growing amount of high blood pressure in developed countries today.
Omega-3 fatty acids deficiency is known to cause mood swings and fatigue, and it’s benefits improve attitude, mood and wellbeing. Omega 3 is not only found in fish but it is also in walnuts and seeds. As well as happiness boosting omega 3, magnesium also helps promote happiness. Magnesium assists the body in converting tryptophan (an amino acid) to serotonin. So, if you know anything about happiness and depression, you will probably have heard about how serotonin factors into this quite highly, in fact having a lack of serotonin can lead to depression and other mental/physical illnesses.
11. GOOD FOR PREGNANCY
Baby’s brain’s are constantly developing and growing whilst a woman is pregnant. Eating Walnuts while pregnant helps boost this growth and development and assists brain functions like memory and learning abilities. Macadamia nuts are brimmed with protein and folate which are essential nutrients whilst pregnant, but it’s important to keep portion sizes rational and not overeat. Pistachios have a low glycemic index so are ideal for pregnant woman at risk of diabetes or who already have diabetes. They are packed full of fibre, protein and antioxidants so promote a healthy happy pregnancy.
12. BETTER SKIN
Fatty acids keep our skin moist, healthy, supple and young looking, Fatty acids are found in many different nut source’s but especially in walnuts. Also found in nuts and good for the skin is Zinc, as previously mentioned zinc is beneficial to the immune system, hair, skin and nails and a zinc deficiency can lead to dry/rough skin. Vitamin E, also found in nuts, protects the skin against sun damage and is prominent in many skin lotions. There are plenty of nutrients in nuts to help keep skin supple and glowing.
13. GOOD FOR YOUR THYROID
ZInc and magnesium play an important part in relation to thyroid function a deficiency of either of these can lead to both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Selenium, which can be found in Brazil nuts is also crucial to thyroid health. Many people with digestive illness’ such as Crohn’s disease or celiacs suffer from selenium deficiency, a New Zealand study shows that just 2 Brazil nuts a day could be better than taking a selenium supplement.
14. ESTROGEN FOR MENOPAUSE
Peanuts are a large contributor of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens or plant-oestrogen has loads of immune assisting results and it even helps reduce the symptoms of menopause. A health study in IOWA also showed that women who had been through the menopause and ate a small handful of peanuts every week had reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Most people are not getting enough fibre in their diet. We are all eating high protein and are scared of the carbs. There really is no need to fear the carbohydrate, especially when it comes to fibre. We all know that fibre is important when it comes to toilet time and it’s required to be able to “flush” out all the unnecessary toxins. Nuts, especially Almonds are high in dietary fibre and help your body process out toxins, feed the healthy bacteria and stay fuller for longer.
That is why, everyone should incorporate nuts into their diet everyday, it’s easy because nuts are the perfect size and consistency to pop in your handbag or lunch box and take with you for a mid day snack. I try and add crushed Almonds to my breakfast porridge, sometimes i’ll add some Almond or Peanut butter. You’ve probably all seen my protein pancakes which I always top with nut butter and fruit. But, do remember, nuts are healthy but too much can lead to weight gain.
How Much do you like nuts???
Let me know your favourite nuts and any extra health benefits you know of in the comments….