The health benefits of nuts
It’s not all bad news when it comes to debunking the benefits of nuts. Go nuts but remember moderation is key!
CASE: 50 g has as much calcium as half a glass of milk
Almonds are the desk snack du jour. Here’s why. A 50 g serve of almonds contains as much calcium as half a glass of milk and supplies about 130 per cent of daily vitamin E requirements (more vit E than any other nut). What’s more, their betasitosterol can block the absorption of cholesterol.
CASE: Just two nuts contains your RDI of antioxidant selenium
Forget that they’re 62 per cent fat (but remember most of it is polyunsaturated) – just two of these pearlers will meet your RDI for selenium, an antioxidant depleted in many soils. Magnesium and calcium are also in the mix.
CASE: The most iron and zinc you’ll find in a plant source. Cashews, which make a gorgeous vegan cheese, are also a great source of folate.
CASE: Low kilojoules, high fibre
The low-kilojoule wild card in the nut camp (try 214 kJ for 30 g), these floury morsels are chockers with fibre and gluten free. While they’re staples of mountain roadsides in winter, chestnuts come frozen year round.
CASE: Potassium to replace electrolytes after working out
Sure is (a nut), but not quite as nutritionally virtuous as its miniature cousins. Instead, coconut comes into its own in the sporting arena, with coconut water being added to fitness supplements and electrolyte replacement drinks.
CASE: Low fat and packed with B vits
Want to save a few grams of fat (even though they’re goodies)? Hit up a hazelnut, with just 36 per cent fat. The anchors of Nutella also ferry vitamins E and B6, thiamine, niacin, folic acid and calcium.
CASE: No cholesterol
They may be 70 per cent fat, but 80 per cent of it is monounsaturated (good), and they’ve got zero cholesterol.
CASE: 25 per cent protein
The game’s up: peanuts aren’t nuts – they’re legumes. They therefore rival beans and peas in the protein stakes, comprising almost a quarter protein. They are 49 per cent fat, which isn’t bad for a nut, and deliver bonus fibre and calcium.
CASE: Plant source of alpha linolenic acid for omega-3s
Few plant sources can claim this, so it’s worth taking notice of pecans’ ALA. It might aid blood flow and heart health (and anyway, the ‘can makes a smackin’ pie filling).
CASE: Cholesterol combatant extraordinaires pistachios provide plant sterols that can block cholesterol absorption. They’re also among the best nuts for potassium and protein, and vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
Like pecans, walnuts boast alpha linolenic acid, which can keep blood flowing freely and assist with maintaining heart health as well as facilitating brain function. You know what they say about foods that look like brains…
Head on over and read more about other healthy fats for a balanced diet.