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Nuts and seeds may be small in size, but they are big when it comes to nutrition. They are rich sources of vitamins and minerals; they are a good plant-based protein source and they also often contain monounsaturated fats, essential omega-3 fatty acids and phytosterol phytonutrients that do wonders for promoting overall health.
Best eaten raw, they are delicious, nutritious and highly portable. They can be eaten by themselves as a healthy, satisfying snack, or they can be added to breakfast cereals, salads, grain dishes, desserts and healthy, sautéed vegetables. The complex tastes and unique textures of nuts and seeds complement many dishes.
Nuts and seeds have been part of mankind's diet from early times. Plant debris found in prehistoric archaeological sites suggests that cavemen had at least a few nuts in their diet. Pine nuts and sweet chestnuts were much sought after in the Mediterranean region during the Greco-Roman era and the diet of the original American Indians included pecans, pine nuts, beechnuts and sunflower seeds to name but a few.
Leading health organisations recommend five servings of nuts and seeds every week. For optimum benefits it may be best to eat 42g of nuts or seeds every day, alternatively, try to add around 60g of nuts or seeds to your menus for five days each week.
Some Easy Ways to Eat 5 Servings Each Week
- Breakfast: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed on to your cereal or smoothie
- Lunch: Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of your salad
- Dinner: Serve and appetizer of crudites with tahini (sesame seed spread) or top your vegetables with sesame seeds.
- Snack: Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are delicious to nibble on at any time of the day.
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