21 Jul 6 reasons to be nutty about nuts: the health benefits of nuts
Nuts are a great whole food to snack on, they are packed full of health benefits, protein and heart-healthy fats. Enjoy them in their raw state, preferably organic, but keep portion sizes in check (a small handful of nuts is approximately 1 portion) as they are also high in calories.
Here’s the nitty (nutty) gritty on nuts:
Vitamin E – Almonds are high in Vitamin E a powerful vitamin that helps stop the deposit of fat into your arteries. When fat builds up, it develops into plaques along the artery wall. Like all organs in our body, the heart needs blood. The plaque build up restricts the flow of blood to the heart, it increases blood pressure and also prevents the absorption of vitamin and minerals into the artery walls. All of these things contribute to heart disease.
Niacin and Folate – These B vitamins are known to decrease the risk of cancers and prevent cognitive decline by aiding DNA repair and cell function. Niacin also helps the body turn food into energy and folate has benefits for men by promoting healthy sperm. Peanuts are high in these vitamins, although technically peanuts are a legume as they are grown underground.
Unsaturated Fat – Nuts contain the good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, according to the American Heart Association these fats can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels whilst providing essential fats that body needs, but can’t produce itself. The creamy peanut, brazil nut and almond are all good sources.
Phytosterols – These are a bioactive compound, meaning that they are not vital to the basic function of the human body, but they have fantastic additional health benefits. Phytosterols disrupt the digestive tract in a good way, competing with cholesterol, stopping its absorption into the blood stream. They are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts. Pistachios are a great source of phytosterols.
Omega 3 – is a healthy fatty acid that is found in fish and nuts. It helps your heart, among other things, preventing dangerous rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Walnuts have a good amount of fatty acids.
Fibre – All nuts contain fibre which helps lower your cholesterol. Fibre makes you feel full, so you eat less and it also binds up any nasties in your system, helping them to pass through.
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