Sophie's World Blog

101 Nuts in our diet

Benefits of most common nuts

101 Nuts in our diet

Nuts are packed with extremely healthy fats, minerals and vitamins that support our body. They are also practical since you can buy different kinds of nuts in all season almost in every shop. The important thing is to buy pure or just dried nuts and unsalted ones. When you buy salted and roasted ones, you can easily overload your daily sodium needs and roasting technique with high heat can destroy some nutrients also and add the bad kind of fat to the nuts if they are roasted in hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Mostly all of us will find some kind of nuts at the shelf as we enter the pantry. Usually, we take these nuts as baking ingredients not as natural health supplements. As I already wrote in the Daily Nuts Bag article, eating nuts as a snack is not just a tasty snack but also an excellent food source for supporting our immune system. Nuts are a cheap, easily-carried and filling snack as they are high in good fats and dietary fiber.

The only thing to keep in mind is moderation as usual. As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat - even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it's still contains a lot of calories. One handful is healthy, more can ruin your diet. Not only are nuts healthy and nutritious, they’re also high in calorie and fat, and can also cause skin problems for those who have a reaction to this. So as you see, nuts have pros and cons too.

Let’s see the benefits and the bad effects of the most common nuts:

Almonds

kCal in a portion (approx. 18 nuts) 125 / Fat in a portion 10.8g / Fat: low content of unsaturated fat

Almonds are relatively low in calories, and have more calcium than other nuts. They are rich in fiber and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps against inflammation, also helps skin to keep it’s good condition. Almonds also helps to increase the amount of good bacteria in the digestive system that is helpful for our entire body.

Almonds are very useful in case you have to avoid dairy sources, also a good option if you have to avoid gluten-containing grains. Almond flour is a good flour substitute for baking, and can be used itself as a base of special cookies (eg. macaroons).


Brazil nuts

kCal in a portion (approx. 4 nuts covers the daily need of selenium for an adult) 31 / Fat in a portion 13.3g / Fat: high in saturated fat

Brazil nuts (and pecan nuts) are fully packed with selenium. Selenium is a typical immune booster mineral, and also useful for men, since it may protect against prostate cancer. It also helps in healing wounds. Just one nut contains more than a day's worth, so eat these with moderation. Too much selenium has very serious side effects. Ideal for those with low thyroid function.

These nuts go rancid easily. If you can, buy unshelled nuts and peel them in smaller amounts as you need.


Cashews

kCal in a portion (approx. 25 nuts, 18g) 103 / Fat in a portion 8.3g / Fat: high in saturated fat

If you are following a vegetarian diet, cashews is the best choice since they are high in protein, and also a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium. By blending them in the mixer you’ll get a healthy butter-substitute that makes the crackers tasty at the morning, also give a boost to your brain to get up.


Chestnuts

kCal in a portion (approx. 8 nuts, 24g) 47 / Fat in a portion 0.3g / Fat: low content of unsaturated fat

Even though chestnuts are the ones with the lowest fat and calorie content, I don’t recommend them as a snack. It’s better to take it as a seasonal good. You can buy it in many countries packaged and preserved, but I don’t like preservatives. Seasonal food sources are in their best condition when they're in season.

Chestnuts are rich in starch (carbohydrate) and fibre, and their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. They're lower in protein than other nuts but make a useful contribution of B vitamins including B6.

Ideal choice for vegetarians or especially those with a gluten-free diet, as ground chestnut flour can be used as a gluten-free flour for cakes and other sweets.


Hazelnuts

kCal in a portion (approx. 20 nuts) 126 / Fat in a portion 12.2g / Fat: low content of unsaturated fat

Hazelnuts are rich in fiber, and also a gluten-free option. The oil that nuts contain helps the skin to avoid drying.

Hazelnuts are a good source of folate, and like peanuts, it can support you if you're following a vegetarian diet or expecting a baby. Since hazelnuts contain a lower calorie, and not so allergenic, I think it’s a safer choice than peanuts.


Macadamia nuts

kCal in a portion (approx. 15 nuts, 18g) 129 / Fat in a portion 13.6g / Fat: high in unsaturated fat

This is the one of the two nuts (the other is pecan nut) that has the highest calorie content rated to its nutrition values and other nuts. As they’re high in fat, they are usually used for adding flavour and texture to dishes. Work well in both savoury and sweet recipes.

They are high in magnesium, calcium, and potassium. They easily become rancid in a short time, so buy them in small batches.


Peanuts

kCal in a portion (approx. 25 nuts, 25g) 142 / Fat in a portion 12.3g / Fat: high content of unsaturated fat

Peanuts are technically not nuts, but legumes. Peanuts are high in folate—the mineral essential for brain development. This also makes peanuts a great choice for vegetarians, and especially for pregnant women, who need folate to protect their unborn babies from birth defects. They are also high in Vitamin E, but unfortunatelly, this is one of the worse allergy-boosting food sources.

Pecan nuts

kCal in a portion (15 nuts) 157 / Fat in a portion 16.1g / Fat: medium content of saturated fat

This is the second of the two kind of nuts that have the highest calorie content. This doesn’t make these nuts worse than others, you just have to count less of these nuts for a snack.

Pecan nuts (and brazil nuts) are fully packed with selenium and all the information that we can say about brazil nuts are true for pecan nuts as well. Pecans are rich in plant sterols that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries.

They're rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid is the same healthy fat found in olives and avocados. As a good source of vitamin B3, pecans are useful if you're fighting fatigue.

Pine nuts

kCal in a portion (50 nuts – enough for adding a salad) 188 / Fat in a portion 19.1g / Fat: medium content of unsaturated fat

I think pine nuts are not the same category as other nuts according to how they are used for cuisine, but some may miss them from the list, so I included it here. I think pine nuts are used the same as we use sesame or pumpkin nuts in the cuisine, they are the nuts that I use as seeds, not just because of their size but their benefits:

Pine nuts are one of the nuts with highest calorie, 100g of them contain more than 600kCal. They are high in oleic acid that helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol amount in blood. Pine nuts can help lower appetite, but you need to measure them carefully to harmonize the calorie intake and nutrition. They are gluten free and contain a high amount of Vitamin E. Pine nuts are one of the richest sources of manganese.

Pistachios

kCal in a portion (30 nuts, 30g) 167 / Fat in a portion 13.3g / Fat: medium content of unsaturated fat

Pistachnios are rich in vitamin B6, which helps keep hormones balanced, so pistachios are a good option for those with problem periods. As they're the only nuts containing reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, they can play an important role in protecting the eyes. They also contain potassium and help increase the body’s defending capability against lung cancer.

Tip: if you buy unshelled pistachios, you get a more “skinny-friendly” version than with shelled ones.

Walnuts

kCal in a portion (10 whole nuts, 26g) 161 / Fat in a portion 15.3g / Fat: low content of unsaturated fat

Walnuts are high in alpha linoleic acid (ALA) that may help in heart arrhythmias, and as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries. As walnuts have the highest levels of popyphenolic antioxidants than any other common edible nuts, eating six to seven walnuts a day could help scavenge almost all the free radicals from the body that can cause severe diseases. Walnuts is a great alternative if you can’t or don’t want to eat oily fishes.

For men, walnuts are essential support for their reproductive system. For women, walnuts help lower PMS syndromes as they are rich in manganese.

Since some nuts go rancid easier and some of them not, especially when you buy them packed, it’s best to store them in an airy, closed dry place and away from sunlight.

Comments:

Copyright: Zsófia Michelin-Corporatum Oy, Content pictures copyrigh: Shutterstock, Development: e-Com