Nuts are food materials that supply the body with complete nutrition due to the fact that they are a good source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, calories, and minerals such as magnesium, fluoride, iron, manganese, selenium, potassium, calcium, and zinc.
What is a nut? A nut is a simple dry fruit that has one or two seeds with the ovary wall becoming stony, woody, and very hard at maturity. The seed remains glued to the ovary wall. Examples of nut include pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, almonds, brazil nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.
The term ‘nut’ applies to some seeds that are not true nuts botanically. This category of seeds includes sesame seed, flaxseed, cape seed, poppy seed, linseed, caraway, pepita or pumpkin seed, chia, sunflower seed, and passionfruit. All nuts possess various nutrition values and will provide you with different health benefits. In other words, the nutritional value of nuts varies from one nuts to another. Each nut and their nutrients are as follows:
i.) Pecans – fiber and antioxidants
ii.) Walnuts – alpha linoleic acid: plant omega 3 and antioxidants
iii.) Hazelnuts – fiber, folate, vitamin E, potassium
iv.) Almonds – protein, vitamin E, calcium
v.) Cashews – non-haem (plant based) iron and a low GI rating
vi.) Pistachios – potassium, antioxidant resveratrol, protein, and plant sterols
vii.) Brazil nuts – fiber and selenium
viii.) Chestnuts – fiber, vitamin C, and low GI
ix.) Macadamias – manganese, monounsaturated fats and thiamin
Nuts are good for the heart. Yes or No? Nuts intake are essentially good for the heart especially the ones high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as low in saturated fats. The following heart nutrients are very effective in promoting healthy heart:
- Antioxidant vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium and other antioxidant compounds such as resveratrol and flavonoids that limit inflammation and oxidation.
- Plant sterols and fiber that assists in reducing the re-absorption of cholesterol from the gut.
- Naturally low sodium and potassium levels which help in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
- Healthy- promoting monounsaturated and poly saturated that assists with the regulation of blood cholesterol.
- Arginine (an amino acid that is converted to nitric oxide in the body) assists in keeping the blood vessels elastic thus limiting the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries.
Let’s Take a Look at the Health Benefits of Nuts
- Almonds – They are rich in calcium thus helping to build the bone. Almonds are also a good source of vitamin E, a nutrient that is highly useful to improve the appearance and condition of the skin.
- Cashew nuts – This is a very good example of nuts high in protein in addition to being a good source of minerals like zinc and iron. Cashew nuts are very useful for individuals following a vegetarian diet.
- Hazelnuts – Hazelnuts are one of best nuts to eat and are a rich source of folate, that plays an important role in keeping homocysteine at normal levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid associated with conditions such as Parkinsons and heart problems.
- Pecans – They are one of best nuts for diet and are heart-friendly since they are filled with plant sterols, which are valuable compounds that are useful for lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also rich in antioxidant that assists in preventing the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries.
- Walnuts – One of the best nuts to eat since they contain antioxidant that are effective in the fight against cancer. They are rich in monounsaturated, heart-friendly fats thereby limiting bad form of cholesterol.
- Brazil nuts – These nuts are rich in mineral selenium, which promotes immunity and helps wound to heal as quick as possible.
- Chestnuts – Chestnuts are the nuts with the lowest fat and calories though they are rich in fiber and starchy carbs. They are also a good source of vitamin C in their raw form.
- Macadamias – One of the nuts with the highest fat contents. They are a good source of fiber in addition to being a useful contribution of minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Pistachios – Pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, which is important in keeping hormones healthy and balanced. They contain two antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) that are useful in protecting the eyes.