Hopefully, you’ve had an opportunity to read last month’s part 1 about the benefits of nuts, so this month I’m going to pick up where I left off.
Nuts are also a great source of:
· Magnesium – for healthy bones and proper muscle function. Brazil nuts, cashews and almonds contain more magnesium than other nuts.
· Potassium – an electrolyte which helps the proper functioning of all cells in the body and is especially important for healthy heart and muscle function. Pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds contain higher amounts than other nuts.
· Calcium – for healthy bones and teeth, with almonds containing the highest amounts and Brazil nuts and hazelnuts coming a close second.
Unroasted, unsalted nuts make a healthy, satisfying snack. A small handful (30 grams) of mixed nuts four to five times per week has been found to provide beneficial effects and is recommended by the Heart Foundation. It is one of nature’s ultimate ‘fast foods’! Keeping a small bag on hand will help to satisfy those hunger pangs when you are out and about, preventing you from driving to the nearest fast food outlet or buying a chocolate bar or bag of crisps to tide you over. Although nuts are high in fat, it is the good kind of fat and keeping serving sizes to the recommended amounts ensures that it doesn’t affect body weight. Studies have shown that people who eat nuts are less likely to be overweight.
For our bodies to be able to properly absorb the nutrients in nuts, they must be chewed well, otherwise they will just pass through our digestive system without all the nutrients being extracted. One way around this is to finely grind the nuts and in this way they can be added to smoothies, yoghurt, baking, soups, curries, casseroles and even sprinkled over cereal. If eating raw nuts is not appealing to you, try gently roasting them in a pan for a few minutes without any added oil to enhance their flavour. Only roast the amount you will need for a couple of days because once the oils in the nuts have been heated they go rancid quite quickly & develop an ‘off’ flavour, and rancid oils don’t have a positive effect on our health.
All in all, nuts are a pretty amazing food! Unless you are allergic to them, try including some into your diet every day.
by Paula Southworth
Nutritionist and Health Coach
(BSc Human Nutrition and Sports Science)
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