Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Health Food >>  Nuts And Seeds

Information On Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are an important part of any healthy diet, particularly so if you are on a vegetarian diet. Nuts and seeds aren’t meant to make a meal, but a small snack. Ideally, you should just consume a handful of nuts and seeds a day to derive any benefits. Moreover, nuts tend to provide a sense of fullness and satisfaction, thereby satisfying your appetite and curtailing your tendency to consume other high calorie foods that provide you with little nutrition. Nuts are particularly valuable in a vegetarian diet because they offer an abundant supply of essential amino acids and healthy fats.

Health Benefits Of Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds offer tremendous health benefits and according to many experts you can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer by consuming just a handful of nuts and seeds at least five times a week.
The best way to derive any benefits from consuming nuts and seeds would be to consume an assorted collection of nuts and seeds, as they all have their own distinctive nutritional benefits. Make sure that you consume them raw and unsalted. You can also consider consuming soaked nuts and seeds. The benefits of soaking nuts and seeds may be explained by the presence of enzyme inhibitors in nuts and seeds.
  • Healthy Brain: Nuts and seeds contain high nutritional value as they are rich in minerals like calcium and also contain omega 3 fatty acids, all of which are essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy brain cells. If you really wish to enjoy any nuts and seeds nutritional benefits however make it a point to consume a handful of assorted nuts and seeds almost every day. Variety is important here as the nutrients in nuts and seeds differ slightly, depending on the particular type of nuts or seeds.
  • Digestive System: While these are beneficial to the nuts and seeds as they prevent premature germination, they do put a strain on your digestive system. Soaking nuts and seeds is considered to be a healthy practice as it neutralizes these enzyme inhibitors and makes the nuts and seeds a lot easier to digest.
  • Cholesterol: The high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, like palmitoleic and oleic acids, in nuts is believed to help reduce cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease. Nuts like almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts are particularly high in calories, but at the same time almonds are known to be among the best of all nuts and seeds for cholesterol levels.
  • Alzheimer ’s Disease: The abundant supply of antioxidants like carotenes, lutein, and cryptoxanthin from nuts also offers protection against cardiac disease, degenerative diseases of the nerves, Alzheimer’s and various infections. Minerals like iron and copper, which are essential for red blood cell formation, are again found abundantly in most nuts. Nuts and seeds can also be a healthy source of many of important B complex vitamins like niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and folates. These nutrients are absolutely essential for your general health and well being. Chia seeds are again extremely helpful because of their high boron content, which helps in the absorption of calcium, necessary for skeletal health.
  • Energy: Any individual on a strictly vegetarian diet is in fact advised to consume some amount of nuts and seeds for energy. For the same reason however you need to exercise some amount of moderation when consuming nuts and seeds. This is particularly important if you include nuts and seeds for a weight loss diet. When consumed in this manner with low calorie fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds can provide you with most of your energy requirements without adding greatly to the overall caloric intake.
  • Other Benefits: The high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in nuts and seeds are also believed to help control the risk of artery disease, strokes and also with some types of cancer. Omega 3 acids are also thought to help with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Nutrients In Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients, but most of us tend to curtail our intake of nuts and seeds because of their high fat content. While nuts may have a high fat content, the belief that they lead to weight gain is a common misconception.

Calories In Nuts and Seeds

On an average most varieties of nuts would contain around 600 kcal per 100 grams. Some low calorie nuts and seeds like chestnuts however contain less than 200 kcal per 100 grams. Although most nuts and seeds are high in calories they can still be included in your diet without adding greatly to the overall calories in your meal. They are not meant to be consumed in large quantities, and ideally you should simply consume a sprinkling of nuts and seeds over a salad.

Types Of Nuts And Their Benefits:

Some popular varieties of healthy nuts and seeds would include almonds, peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and linseeds. Nuts in general are rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, and are also loaded with vitamin E. You can also read about nutrition benefits of cashew nuts

  • Almonds: Almonds help lower cholesterol levels and are a good source of calcium. Almonds although regarded as one of the healthiest of nuts and seeds should be consumed in moderation because of their high caloric value. More on nutritional value of almond
  • Walnuts: They are a good source of omega 3 acids, while peanuts are rich in manganese.

Types Of Seeds And Their Benefits:

Seeds are also rich in vitamin E and seeds like pumpkin and sesame can help women cope with menopausal symptoms because of the presence of phytoestrogens. Most varieties of seeds like sunflower, linseeds and pumpkin area also rich in minerals and antioxidants.

  • Linseeds: They are in fact recommended for the high content of essential fatty acids.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: They are also recommended for prostate health because of their high zinc levels. The high mineral content in seeds and nuts is also believed to help improve bone mineral density.

How to Use Nuts And Seeds:

  • It isn’t uncommon to consume some specific types of nuts and seeds for common health problems.
  • Nuts and seeds are a particularly healthy addition to your diet if you wish to go vegetarian as their high protein and amino acid content makes them a healthy substitute for meats and most dairy products.
  • Nuts and seeds should not be consumed in large quantities, but instead you should include them as regular snacks that can be consumed just one or twice a day.
  • Salted nuts and seeds are not very healthy because of the high sodium content. Nuts and seeds can be consumed raw or as pastes that can be spread on bread or oatcakes.
  • While pastes and other nuts and seeds products may make for a delicious garnish or sandwich spread, they do not necessarily offer the same nutritional value and may also contain other high calorie ingredients with little nutritional value.
  • The manner in which you consume nuts therefore determines the beneficial effects they will have on your health.
  • If you don’t wish to consume raw nuts and seeds as a snack you can sprinkle them on to your breakfast cereals or in porridges and salads.
  • Unhealthy methods of preparation or including them in unhealthy dishes like fried foods would defeat the purpose of including nuts and seeds in your meals.
  • The best way to consume nuts is to actually soak them in water for some time, with different nuts and seeds needing to be soaked for different amounts of time.
Submitted on January 16, 2014