You may be surprised to read this, but nuts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
The term nut is applied to many seeds, grains and legumes that are not botanically true nuts, such as peanuts which are a legume. While they may have many similar characteristics, the best choices include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts.
Packed with many key nutrients and providing a whole host of health benefits, let’s unpack these impressive plant-based delights.
The key nutrients in nuts are:
- Omega-3: These are our anti-inflammatory fats, essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K; improved memory and cognition, increased skin integrity; and decreasing inflammation, which assists everything from bone strength to heart health.
- Fibre: Fibre is essential for satiety, digestion and gastrointestinal health. Nuts are a great source of prebiotic fibre, which provides fuel to the beneficial bacteria found in our gut and therefore supports a healthy microbiome.
- Protein: Protein is essential for blood sugar and craving control; body fat reduction; lean muscle mass development; cognitive function; and neurotransmitter production and mood balance. Almonds, cashews and walnuts are great protein rich nuts.
- B vitamins: Nuts are rich in B vitamins which are essential for converting nutrients into energy and supporting healthy hormone and cholesterol production. The body has a limited capacity to store many B vitamins, so it is essential that adequate amounts are consumed via our food. Nuts with high levels of B vitamins include almonds, walnuts and pine nuts.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc found in nuts, help to reduce oxidation and inflammation. This has many benefits including improved exercise recovery, enhanced immunity and positive heart health.
The key health benefits of nuts are:
Blood sugar control & satiety
Regular consumption of nuts can improve blood sugar control and satiety which balances energy levels and cravings, and helps to keep blood levels of insulin (our fat storage hormone) levels in check. The metabolic benefits of low insulin are many, including a body that is primed to burn, rather than store, fat.
With an increased focus on quality dietary fats over refined carbohydrates, comes an increased ability to oxidise dietary fat for energy. As a fat burner, less fat is stored and your goal weight can be achieved or maintained without starvation, hunger, counting calories or the metabolic disruption that comes with a calorie-restricted approach.
Improved gut health & immunity
Consuming adequate prebiotic fibre provides the essential building blocks of a healthy microbiome. As your gut contains 80 per cent of your immune system, it’s clear that what you put in your mouth also has a direct influence on your immunity.
Inflammation is your body's way of defending itself from injury, bacteria and other potentially harmful pathogens. Chronic inflammation however is extremely detrimental to your exercise recovery, subsequent performance, injury recovery, bone strength and long-term health. Consuming omega-3 rich nuts is a natural way to decrease chronic inflammation.
Enhanced cardiovascular health
An adequate intake of omega-3 rich nuts decreases inflammation and the associated negative heart health implications. A 30g serve of nuts per day is a great choice for supporting your long-term heart health.
How will you add nuts to your day? Visit our recipes page for inspiration.