If you love nuts, here's some great news for you: nuts are packed with nutrients that boost your health in many different ways. Snacking on small portions of nuts can help lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and even help fight cancer.
Nuts are also an excellent source of fibre and protein and, contrary to popular belief, nuts are not fattening - they contain "good" unsaturated fats and have a low glycaemic index which helps you to feel full for longer and could even help you to lose weight on the longterm.
Nibble your way to health on these six nuts:
Almonds are an excellent source of calcium; magnesium (for strong bones); protein and vitamin E, all of which are known to help prevent cancer, boost the immune system and protect against cardiovascular diseases. A Loma Linda School of Public Health study showed that the risk of heart disease could be significantly reduced by up to 50% when consuming almonds on a regular basis. Almonds also lower the risk of high cholesterol levels and play a role in controlling diabetes.
Almonds are considered to be the healthiest of all nuts. Almonds are ideal as a healthy snacking alternative and are an excellent dietary choice for those seeking to lose or control their weight. WeightWatchers claim that almonds are "a healthy and satisfying snack when enjoyed in moderation". Almonds can be included as a garnish to desserts and are commonly used as a base ingredient in certain curry dishes.
Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium: an anti-cancer mineral that promotes the self-destruction of cancer cells and boosts immunity, as well as lowering the risk of heart disease. The FDA (USA’s Food and Drug Administration) issued a qualified health claim on the above qualities of this mineral in 2003. Brazil nuts also play a significant role in optimising the function of our digestive systems and metabolism, as they contain zinc.
These nuts may be included in a vegetarian diet and are ideal for recipes such as a nut stir fry and can also be an ingredient in a variety of pesto’s, sauces or Parfait.
Cashew nuts are rich in carbohydrates and vitamin A. Carbohydrates are a source of easily accessible energy, which also benefits our body’s muscle tissue, because a higher level of carbohydrates prevents the body from burning muscle tissue in search of more energy. Vitamin A helps decrease the pace at which skin ages; fights skin disorders and is known to possibly improve our sight. These nuts also contain monounsaturated fats which may help to protect the heart and are an excellent source of dietary fibre.
Cashew nuts are regularly included in casseroles, salads and are often found in biscuits and other delicacies.
Hazelnuts contain vitamin B6 which not only promotes the function of the body’s metabolism, but helps maintain control of diabetes; can reduce stress; and prompts the body’s absorption rate of other minerals. Hazelnuts also contain vitamins A and E plus selenium, manganese and zinc. The FDA claims that there is sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that the consumption of nuts is related to a decrease in risk of contracting heart diseases.
Hazelnuts are generally used as an ingredient in brownies, biscotti, or savoury dishes such as roast lamb or chicken.
Macadamia nuts contain potassium, which can lower the risk of suffering from high blood pressure or a stroke. They also contain sodium, am important mineral which combats muscle cramps, balances the ions and regulates the fluid volume in vessels in our body, as well as improving brain function.
Macadamia nuts can be included in dishes such as roast duck or couscous, or in sweeter dishes such as shortcake, muffins or mousse.
Pistachio nuts provide us with the nutrients essential to lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of contracting one of various heart diseases. These nutrients include minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, iron and selenium.
Pistachio nuts are lower in kilojoules than most other nuts and are high in fibre, cholesterol free and low in saturated fats.
Pistachio nuts are best enjoyed as a simple snack and in this form will provide optimum health related results.
(Sources: Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts and Health24)
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