Nuts are one of Mother Nature’s wonder foods as they are (in comparison to their size), nutritional powerhouses loaded with a wide range of essential nutrients. Nuts are filled to the brim with healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, are low on the glycaemic index scale, and as such are a great addition to a healthy, whole food diet.
An average serving size (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains:
Protein: 5 grams
Fibre: 3 grams
Carbohydrate: 6 grams
Fat: 16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat
Magnesium: 16% of the RDI (recommended dietary intake)
Selenium: 56% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
Copper: 23% of the RDI
Manganese: 26% of the RDI
Besides being highly nutritious, nuts have the ability to reduce numerous risk factors for many serious conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. Nuts may help to lower your cholesterol levels, inflammation within the body, as well as your overall blood sugar. The fibre they contain may even help you to lose weight by reducing what is known as Metabolic Syndrome.
Here is a quick guide to the main health benefit of each nut:
Almonds – mineral rich, particularly calcium - an important nutrient for strong and healthy bones - perfect for those looking for a vegan calcium alternative. This nut is a great all-rounder to include into your daily diet.
Brazil nuts – rich in the antioxidant mineral Selenium which is crucial for a healthy Thyroid, fighting free radical damage and lowering inflammation.
Cashews – packed full of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, selenium and phosphorus, as well as the vitamins B6, E and K, plus essential fatty acids – a fantastic nut for brain and overall health.
Hazelnuts – high in fibre which helps to keep you full after a meal, reduce your absorption of calories, plus promote the growth of beneficial bacteria within your gut for a healthier digestive system.
Macadamias – Australia’s very own native nut can help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and promote ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels.
Pecans – a study published by the Journal of Nutrition found that 2–8 hours after consuming whole pecans, participants experienced up to a 33% drop in their levels of oxidised ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease.
Pistachios – these fibre rich nuts may help to reduce your overall cholesterol levels. Most worthy of note however – alongside Almonds, Pistachios may assist your weight loss efforts and reduce those excess centimetres off your waistline by lowering blood sugar levels – perfect for those with what is known as Metabolic syndrome. Research has shown our bodies don’t absorb as many calories also – so sign me up for the nut diet please!
Walnuts – a powerful ‘brain food’ - rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that combats oxidative stress within your cells, thereby protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Pro tip: Nuts are best enjoyed raw, not roasted, as heating them to high temperatures can destroy the delicate oils they contain.
Here are four ways you can include more nuts into your day:
Swap your traditional morning coffee for an almond milk latte and reducing your dairy consumption with this heart healthy swap – plus its delicious!
Substitute in recipes – replace refined wheat flour for almond or hazelnut meal for a flavour and nutrition boost.
Add to salads for additional crunch and texture, or sprinkle mixed nuts into your morning cereal.
Create quick and tasty snacks that you can grab on the go such as celery sticks spread with almond butter, or for a fantastic antioxidant hit, pack small snack bags with walnuts, blueberries and at least 70-80% dark chocolate.
One of my favourite snacks that I often recommend to my clients is a nut butter such as ABC (almond, brazil and cashew nut spread) which is available at most supermarkets stuffed into dates, because with just two ingredients they are a super quick and easy option to satisfy those afternoon energy slumps and the perfect sweet/salty combination! Simply split a date down the middle and spread with your nut butter spread of choice.
You could whip up a batch of these protein balls in around ten minutes on the weekend and you will be all set for snacks throughout your busy working week – enjoy!
Quick and Easy Lemon Bliss Balls
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup of dessicated coconut
Zest of two lemons
Juice of one lemon
½ a teaspoon of natural vanilla extract
Pinch of Himalayan salt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Extra dessicated coconut for rolling in
Place all the ingredients into your food processor in the order listed above and blend until the mixture resembles a sticky crumb.
Use your hands to shape the mixture into balls.
Roll the balls in the extra coconut and place into the fridge to set.
Note – try not to over blend the mixture if you are using a high powered food processor or you may end up with a butter as opposed to a mixture that you can roll into balls.
For more quick, easy and healthy recipes designed for time-poor, busy executives, click here:
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