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THE BEST NUTS TO EAT FOR HEALTH AND WEIGHT LOSS

Nuts about healthIf you're nuts about health and looking and feeling your best, this is the article for you Below we show you the benefits and why you should include them as part of your healthy daily diet plan.

Nuts are a vital part of a balanced diet. They contain a potent combination of heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals that can help combat heart disease, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and keep your weight under control.

However, despite all of these benefits, many people have been scared away from nuts due to their high fat content and energy density. While it's true that nuts are high in fat, the majority of the fat is the healthy unsaturated type and only a handful of nuts a day are all you need to reap the potential health benefits.

A little goes a long way with nuts. They are energy-dense and are packed with essential nutrients. Every nut delivers a slightly different nutrient profile which is why nutrition experts recommend a wide variety to ensure you get the different benefits each nut has to offer. Read below      

Nuts & Weight Loss

If weight loss is your goal, you don't have to give up tasty nuts. While it's based around physical activity and a balanced diet tailored based on caloric needs/expenditure, research suggests that including nuts as part of an energy-controlled weight loss plan can help you slim down. Nuts are more filling than high energy processed foods such as biscuits, cakes and pastries thanks to their high fibre and protein content.

The fats found in nuts also release satiety hormones in the gut, helping to control appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer. There is also some research to suggest that those who regularly consume nuts excrete more fat in their stools - which means less to store! This is one of the reasons thought to explain why moderate consumption of nuts isn't fattening.

TOP TIPS ON HOW TO INCLUDE NUTS IN YOUR DIET:

  • For a quick snack or a healthy pick-me-up, grab a handful (30g) of unsalted nuts instead of cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • Add a handful to a vegetable stir fry or salad
  • Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of low-fat yoghurt or oats for breakfast
  • Add ground nuts to smoothie's and soups - almond or hazelnut meal is best
  • Include a handful of mixed nuts on cheese platters

 A selection of healthy nuts, including almonds, walnuts and pecans

  • Add nuts to low-fat muffin, bread and fruit cake recipes. Walnuts and pecans taste great in baked goods
  • Add a quick handful to curries or casseroles - cashews work well
  • Use nut spreads instead of margarine or butter
  • Spice up your pasta dish and clock up some extra protein by adding a handful of pine nuts or cashews.

Nuts & Heart Health

A healthy heartEating nuts is not only good for your waistline, they can also help lower LDL or bad cholesterol and maintain healthy blood vessels. LDL is considered the 'bad guy' as it contributes to the build up of plaque inside the arteries which can cause them to narrow and can lead to heart disease.

Nuts are excellent sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which can help manage blood cholesterol. They also contain vitamin E, antioxidant's, folate, arginine, and plant sterol's which can all contribute to heart health.

Studies have shown that eating 30g (a handful) of nuts 4-5 days a week can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. To maximise your heart-health benefits, go for unsalted varieties where you can. 

Checkout the short video below to learn more about your favourite nuts and how they can benefit you.

 

The top 6 nuts

Here's a rundown of the top 6 nuts, along with their nutritional profile. Look to make these a staple of your daily eating plan to reap the benefits.

#1 ALMONDS: Loaded with protein, fibre and essential minerals calcium and magnesium. It's one of the best nuts for lowering cholesterol thanks to it's high monounsaturated fat content (70% total fat).

#2 BRAZIL NUTS: Extremely nutrient rich and have the highest selenium content of all nuts. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant which may help prevent the onset of cancer and other diseases.

Handful of mixed nuts#3 CASHEWS: A rich source of vitamins, minerals and healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain a specific antioxidant that is particularly good for eye health.

#4 MACADAMIA NUTS: Very high in monounsaturated fats and have been shown in studies to help lower cholesterol levels.

#5 PECANS: Jam-packed with over 19 vitamins and minerals. They're also an excellent source of Omega-3 fats and studies have shown they can significantly lower blood cholesterol.

#6 WALNUTS: Largely considered the king of nuts, walnuts have the greatest source of heart-healthy omega-3. They have also been found to contain many protective antioxidant's known to fight cancer.      

Nuts and essential nutrients

GOOD FOR YOU FATS: Nuts are a fantastic source of heart-healthy fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated - which help to regulate blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats actively help to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood. The top picks for nuts high in monounsaturated fats include macadamia's, cashews, almonds, pistachios, and pecans.

Try This: It's easy to boost your intake of nuts - add walnuts to muffins or banana bread, add almonds to homemade muesli or include pine nuts in pasta dishesOmega-3 fats are an important type of polyunsaturated fat as they help to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, guard against arterial plaque build up and aid in brain development. Nuts high in polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and Brazil nuts.

Out of all nuts, walnuts take the prize for the highest amount of omega-3 fats. On the flip side, coconut and palm nuts both contain high levels of saturated fats which can increase blood cholesterol levels, limit your consumption and eat these in moderation.

AlmondsLEAN-MACHINE PROTEIN: Nuts are loaded with protein and also provide iron and zinc, three. To put it in perspective, 1/2 cup of nuts or 1/4 cup of seeds or two tablespoons of nut and seed spreads like peanut butter or tahini are equivalent to one serving of meat (65-100g cooked meat). One important amino acid provided by high protein foods is arginine.

Arginine is important for the healing and repair of damaged tissue and helps keep blood vessels healthy. Good nut sources of this all-important amino acid include almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio and walnuts. The guidelines recommend one to two servings from this food group per day.

BELLY-FILLING FIBRE: Dietary fibre is not only essential for digestive health and keeping you regular, it can help lower blood cholesterol and keep the hunger pangs at bay. All varieties contribute fibre to your diet with almonds, chestnuts and pistachio nuts coming up trumps with the highest content.