The Healthy Nut and You

So what type of nut do you like? And is it a good one? I mean, does it have health benefits?

I love eating lots of nuts, especially when I go for a walk along the Anglesey coastal path near our home in Rhydwyn.

Sneaking small handfuls throughout the day to stave off hunger and as snacks is a great idea.

So, which ones do I go for? Well, I do like the brazil, the pecan nut, an almond and walnut.

You can also throw in the cashew and pistachio, for good measure, too.

What, you may be asking, are the nutritional benefits?

Well, they are high in, and contain the most usable quantities of:

  • Essential Fatty Acids [EFA’s] are important for energy, skin, heart, nervous system and eye health.

  • The B Vitamins Thiamine and Folic acid for a healthy nervous system

  • Iron, Magnesium and Zinc to combat fatigue, stress and aid the hormone system

  • Vitamin E a polyunsaturated fat and antioxidant that helps lower "bad" cholesterol

  • Calcium and Potassium which help normalise blood pressure

  • Lecithin which helps nervous, glandular and hormone system.

A diet that includes nuts regularly also provides essential Protein as you can see from the following:

1 lb of peanuts = 7 ½ pints of milk

Peanuts at 26.2% protein contains more than Cheddar Cheese at 25% but without the saturated fats and all the other nasties such as hormones, steroids and antibiotics fed to the cows. The almond is one of my favourites and contains around 20% protein but a boiled egg [regarded as a good source of protein has around 11.5%]. Almonds also contain loads of calcium.

Getting to the EFA’s the best sources in the world is the Pecan nut with 70.5% EFA’s, while the Brazil nut, walnut and almond all have more than 59%.

4 Brazil nuts contain the recommended daily amount of Selenium, a potent anti-oxidant that we should all be aiming to include in our diets regularly.

Nuts are also a major source of antioxidants called protease inhibitors, which are substances that block of slow the growth of cancer cells. These inhibitors also control blood clotting and help to control viral infections.

As a nutritionist I recommend many clients to start including raw nuts into their diets, usually as snacks, and then I encourage them to start using them in cooked dishes or in salads.

Our favourite Christmas Day feast includes a delicious Nut Roast which is simplicity itself to make yet is special enough for a celebratory meal.

Nuts Cut "Bad" Food Craving

I have experimented with using nuts to cure [not just reduce] cravings for unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate and sweets. Never having had a weight problem I used to enjoy an early evening snack of a few crisps in a dish with a drink.

At the weekend when Graham and I are together the ‘drink’ may be a glass of South African red wine but during the week it is usually a glass of mineral water with a slice of lemon.

It had become something of a bad nutritional habit and made the decision to replace the crisps with raw nuts.

To be honest, for the first few days I really missed the crisps –probably the combination of the addictiveness of the bad fats and salt, but I persevered and within a week I was clear of the craving.

When I feed my dog, Sam, at 6.00 pm I put a selection of nuts in the small dish – Brazils, Almonds, Cashews and Walnuts - and nibble on them, sometimes with some dried apricots.

I have repeated the experiment with 3 willing clients – 2 of them have ditched all milk chocolate and bought biscuits. But one client didn't get what I had told her about buying the nuts and started eating vast quantities of roasted, salted peanuts and cashews instead of raw, unroasted and unsalted nuts.

Her craving has switched from chocolate to these unhealthy nuts so we are going to repeat the experiment correctly. However, I think a 75% success rate is pretty good so it definitely is worth a try.

Practicalities in a Nutshell

You do need to store your nuts from heat and light or they may go a little stale. Also whole nuts keep better than pieces and unroasted unsalted nuts have a longer shelf life.

I purchase nuts in 500g and 1kg bags – decant different varieties into a glass screw top jar, which I store in a dark cupboard. Whatever has not been used from the bags I then put into airtight boxes and store in our utility room fridge or in the freezer.

By the way, salted nuts have 82 times more sodium [salt to you and I] than raw nuts.

Nuts can also be chopped in a blender or food processor and then used in cooking or sprinkled over cereals, salads or in smoothies.

Oh, and just to confirm – nuts are not expensive pound for pound against other protein foods such as meat, chicken, lamb and fish.

The last time I bought 1kg of mixed nuts [containing Brazils, Walnuts, Hazelnuts and Almonds] they were £6.99 yet fresh salmon was £8.99.

See you in the Nut Store!

Related Articles:

Nutritional Therapy, A Holistic Approach
Why I am a Veggie
Eating For Arthritis Pain
Take an Anglesey Spa Break, Boost Your Energy

The above article by Jan Walker represents her personal views on the subject as a consultant nutritionist,and not those of Anglesey Today.

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