What Are Nuts and Their Health Benefit?
Want to know more about nuts and the health benefit of nuts? There are lots of reasons for eating a daily serving of nuts.
Nuts are seed kernels and as such are one of the most nutritious natural snacks available. (It takes a lot of nutrients for the plant/tree to start growing!) Widely used in cooking or eaten on their own as a snack, they’re high in fat and calories.
Here are some of the most commonly consumed nuts, all available here at Real Foods:
Peanuts are also available and popular. We haven’t included them in the list above because technically they are legumes like peas and beans. They’re usually referred to as nuts because they have a similar nutrition profile and characteristics.
But Why Eat Nuts?
Whatever dietary lifestyle you choose, nuts are a good addition to your daily diet, and here’s why, there are lots of health benefits:
First Health Benefit of Nuts: A Great Source of Many Nutrients
Nuts are highly nutritious. One ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains:
- Calories: 173
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 16% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
- Copper: 23% of the RDI
- Manganese: 26% of the RDI
- Selenium: 56% of the RDI
Nuts are generally an excellent food to eat on a low-carb diet.
Second Health Benefit of Nuts: Loaded With Antioxidants
Nuts are antioxidant powerhouses.
Antioxidants, including the polyphenols in nuts, can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals — unstable molecules that may cause cell damage and increase disease.
Third Benefit:May Aid Weight Loss
Though they’re considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts may help you lose weight.
One large study assessing the effects of the Mediterranean diet found that people assigned to eat nuts lost an average of 2 inches (5 cm) from their waists — significantly more than those given olive oil.
What’s more, even though nuts are quite high in calories, research shows that your body doesn’t absorb all of them, as a portion of fat stays trapped within the nut’s fibrous wall during digestion
Fourth Health Benefit of Nuts:May Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Top nuts: Walnuts, Pecans and Hazelnuts
Nuts have impressive effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The cholesterol-lowering power of nuts may be due to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Fifth Benefit:May Reduce Inflammation
Nuts have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself from injury, bacteria, and other potentially harmful pathogens.
In a study on the Mediterranean diet, people whose diets were supplemented with nuts experienced a 35% and 90% decrease in certain inflammatory markers.
Sixth Health Benefit of Nuts:High in Beneficial Fibre
Fibre provides many health benefits.
Top nuts: Almonds, Cashews and Pistachios
Nuts are rich in fibre, which is important for gut health and regular bowel movement.
While your body can’t digest fibre, the bacteria that live in your colon can. Many types of fibre function as prebiotics or food for your healthy gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria then ferment the fibre and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs have powerful benefits, including improving gut health and reducing your risk of diabetes and obesity.
Fibre also helps you feel full and reduces the number of calories you absorb from meals. One study suggests that increasing fibre intake from 18 to 36 grams daily may result in up to 130 fewer calories absorbed.
Here are the nuts with the highest fibre content per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving:
- Almonds: 3.5 grams
- Pistachios: 2.9 grams
- Hazelnuts: 2.9 grams
- Pecans: 2.9 grams
- Peanuts: 2.6 grams
- Macadamias: 2.4 grams
- Brazil nuts: 2.1 grams
Seventh Benefit:May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Nuts are extremely good for your heart.
Several studies suggest that nuts help lower heart disease and stroke risk due to their benefits for cholesterol levels, “bad” LDL particle size, artery function, and inflammation.
Eighth Health Benefit of Nuts:Better skin
Top nuts: Pine nuts, Almonds and Hazelnuts
These nuts are high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin.
Ninth Benefit:Hormone balancing
Top nuts: Pistachios and Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are extremely high in the mineral selenium, which we need to produce the active thyroid hormones, while pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, which is important for keeping hormones balanced and healthy. Just 2 or 3 Brazil nuts a day is enough for your daily dose of selenium
Delicious, Versatile, and Widely Available with Health Benefit
Nuts can be enjoyed whole, as nut butters, or chopped up and sprinkled on food.
Nuts can be kept at room temperature, which makes them ideal for on-the-go snacks and traveling. However, if you’re going to be storing them for long, a refrigerator or freezer will keep them fresher.
A single helping of nuts would be 30g.
Nuts and their Health Benefit, In Summary
Nuts are one of the healthiest snacks you can eat. Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats as well as omega-6 and omega-3, they also contain a wide range of essential nutrients.
Eating nuts on a regular basis may improve your health in many ways, such as by reducing diabetes and heart disease risk, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
As long as you eat them in moderation, nuts make for a tasty addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Are nuts safe for everyone?
Although a beneficial food for many, tree nuts are one of the eight most common food allergens. Cross contamination is a particular concern for those with a nut allergy and requires extra caution when eating away from home.
Whole nuts may pose a choking risk, especially for the under-fives.