Health food of the month - NutsJanuary 2011
Nuts are good for us. They have had a bad name in some quarters because they contain a lot of fat, but these fats are mainly unsaturated and especially monounsaturated fats which can be good for our health because they weed out bad cholesterol and help maintain good cholesterol.
Nuts are also full of other good things – 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 antioxidents including vitamin E and selenium.
Walnuts are full of an antioxidant elagic 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
Pecan nuts have over 20 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B1 and are especially good to help reduce bad cholesterol.
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.
Hazelnuts contain good levels (around 6%) of calcium and iron as well as protein and fats.
Peanuts provide a good source of B vitamins.
A more recent player on the UK nut market is the cedar nut. These nuts come from Russia and contain around 70% of the essential amino acids that we need. They also contain a special form of Vitamin P, a vital fatty acid similar to fish oil which is recognised for reducing bad cholesterol.
However, 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 don’t need a lot of nuts to gain benefit; a brazil nut can contain 1.5 micrograms of selenium per 100g, so eating just two or three of these a day would provide an adequate daily dose.