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Health Food of the month - Nuts

January 2019

Assorted nuts
Nuts are not just for Christmas

Previous Health Foods of the Month...





Diet & Supplements Index

A nutty new year

It’s all over for another year…welcome in 2019 with all our great intentions for losing weight, exercising more and generally improving our lives.

While we will have long used up the leftovers from turkey, ducks and other Christmas fare, there may still be a few nuts around.

While nuts are a traditional festive food over the Christmas period, they are so good for us they really should be a regular addition to our everyday diet right through the year.

Nuts do contain fat, and yes some do contain a lot of calories. But the fats in nuts are mainly unsaturated and generally include monounsaturated fats which can really aid our health by helping to control bad cholesterol.

But if you eat just a handful of nuts a day, the key nutritional values far outweigh the negatives. Nuts are full of key elements the body needs on a regular basis – potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, copper – the list goes on. By eating a variety of nuts in your regular diet, you will be getting lots of vital vitamins and minerals.

Almonds are meant to be really good because they provide a high level of magnesium and calcium, excellent for your bones. They also have many antioxidants including vitamin E and selenium.

Walnuts are full of an antioxidant ellagic acid, plus they contain a range of polyphenols which help fight disease. Walnuts also contain vitamin A, potassium and magnesium and are even heralded as helping to increase brain function

Cashew nuts are reasonably low in fat compared with most other nuts. Along with being rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and palmitoleic acids to help lower harmful cholesterol, they also contain anacardic acid. This can improve insulin sensitivity which can be of particular interest to people at risk from diabetes.

Pecan nuts have over 20 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B1 and are especially good to help reduce bad cholesterol.

Pistachio nuts are really popular for snacking now because of their taste but also their health benefits. Pistachios have the second highest levels of polyphenol and flavonoid contents and also offer good sources of potassium, vitamin B6, copper and manganese.

Brazil nuts contain 17% protein. They are high in a range of essential minerals such as copper, niacin, vitamin E, magnesium and are especially high in selenium. Along with seafood, brazils offer some of the highest levels of this essential trace element. Just one large brazil nut can contain 100 micrograms of selenium against the general recommendation is around 55 micrograms a day. On the other end of the scale it is important you don’t eat too many of these nuts as too much selenium in the body can cause health problems.

Hazelnuts are back in fashion now, you will see them on most supermarket stores and are popular because contain good levels (around 6%) of calcium and iron as well as protein and fats.

Peanuts offer among the highest levels of protein in the nut family. They also contain good levels of vitamin E, folate, niacin, magnesium and potassium, all essentials for good health. But watch out for the over salted or even honeyed versions of peanuts which are now popular, these can offer disproportionate levels of salt and sugar.

Macadamia nuts are rich in B complex vitamins and also contain monounsaturated fats and polyphenol compounds, good to help reduce heart risk. They are also especially valuable for anyone suffering from gluten intolerance as macadamia nuts are free from gluten.

Like any food, you don’t want to over indulge in nuts as they can also pack a lot of calories. 100g of peanuts can equate to over 500 calories. But you really don’t need a lot of nuts to gain benefit; a recent report from Imperial College in London shows that eating around 20 grams of nuts a day can help to cut the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.


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