Nuts are associated with a long list of health benefits. Today we have nutrition student Ariella (@nutritionbyariella) breaking down the nutritional properties of a few of our favourite nuts.
Almonds are rich in antioxidants which protect against oxidative stress, reducing damage from inflammation and ageing. They are among the world’s best source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant. Since they are high in healthy fats, protein, and fibre, they can help with blood glucose control and insulin resistance in diabetics and help to keep you feeling full.
Almonds contain magnesium which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, namely LDL. They stop the LDL being oxidised, which is a step in the development of cardiovascular disease. They are rich in manganese, copper, vitamin K, zinc and magnesium which contribute to bone health.
Since almonds contain folate and unsaturated fatty acid, they have strong neuro-protective benefits. Due to their high fibre content, there has also been some emerging research that they may be beneficial for your gut microbiota, and a healthy gut means a healthy body!
Ways to incorporate almonds into your diet:
- Add to sweet or savoury dishes
- Quinoa, Almond & Pumpkin Seed Brittle
- Coconut Almond Granola (available to buy from my own brand Eli’s Granola)
Pecans contain monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid. They help reduce LDL and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Their high content of both soluble and insoluble fibre promotes colon health and helps with regular bowel movements. Pecans can help stabilise blood sugar because they improve the function of beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.
The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in pecans may improve cognition, as these compounds have been linked to decreased mental decline due to reduced inflammation.
Pecans contain manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, and help promote satiety. They also provide phytonutrients which have an antioxidant effect, so support immunity. In addition, they contain flavonoids (another antioxidant) which has been linked to decreased prevalence of chronic diseases.
Ways to incorporate pecans into your diet:
- Sprinkle over porridge or yoghurt
- 3-ingredient Cinnamon Pecan Butter
- 2-minute Pecan Milk
- Banana Bread Pecan Muffins
- Cinnamon Sultana Granola (available to buy from my own brand Eli’s Granola)
Walnuts are packed with vitamin E, melatonin and polyphenols which prevent oxidative damage of LDL cholesterol, preventing atherosclerosis. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, providing 2.5 grams from a 28-gram serving as they contain an essential fat, ALA. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to boost your mood. Walnuts also decrease inflammation, which can lead to many diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Nourishing you gut microbiota is essential to optimal health, and eating walnuts is a good source of nutrients for them. When your gut microbiota flourishes, your body thrives and improvements in cognitive, skin, and physical health can be seen. Walnuts contain important phytochemicals that help improve neurogenesis.
Just 14 walnut halves provide nearly 50% of the daily manganese target which is needed for healthy bones, wound healing, and collagen production. They are a very satiating food, making them an ideal snack option.
Ways to incorporate walnuts into your diet:
- Mix into your Overnight Oats
- Walnutella – Chocolate Walnut Spread
- Add to a vegan Nut Roast
- Chocolate Chip Quinoa Granola (available to buy from my own brand Eli’s Granola)
Did you know peanuts are classified as a legume rather than a nut?
Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids; this helps lower LDL cholesterol and stop small blood clots from forming, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. They are a low-glycaemic food so don’t cause rapid spikes to insulin levels.
Peanuts are a good source of fibre so help regulate bowel movements. They are also rich in magnesium, folate, vitamin E, copper, and arginine. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and magnesium has many important functions. Folate is needed for cell division, which is particularly important in pregnant women and infants who are growing, making peanuts a good food to incorporate into the diet.
Ways to incorporate peanuts into your diet:
- Peanut Tofu Stir-Fry
- Peanut Butter Cookie Pie
- Peanut Butter Stuffed Biscuits
- Peanut Butter Protein Squares
- Peanut Butter Granola (available to buy from my own brand Eli’s Granola)
Do you have a favourite nut? What are your favourite ways to enjoy nuts in your diet? If you try any of the recipes included in this post I’d love to see, so don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @elibrechernutrition