Nuts are a great addition to any healthy eating plan. Full of healthy fats, dietary fibre, amino acids, plant sterols and a range of essential vitamins and minerals, nuts are some of the most nutrient dense foods, and just a small handful can give you a great range of health benefits. In fact, recent studies have suggested that adding nuts into your diet can almost half your risk of heart disease.
Each nut tree has its own unique nutritional makeup, with a range of vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and vitamin E. Here are some of the health benefits of different nuts…
These nuts are found in the seeds of huge trees found in the Amazonian rainforest, and are an excellent source of selenium, a vital mineral and antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent tissue damage. Just two Brazil nuts gives you your recommended daily intake of selenium.
Macadamias are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats and have been found to help lower blood cholesterol. They also contain plant sterols, which are thought to contribute to the strong cholesterol-lowering effect of nuts.
All nuts contain vitamin E, but almonds are one of the richest sources. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant that helps protect against tissue damage, as well as helping to prevent LDL cholesterol from attaching to the blood vessel walls. A small handful of almonds provides around 85% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E. Eat with the skins- this is where many of the antioxidants are.
Walnuts are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fats, which can help to reduce inflammation in a similar way to the omega-3 fats found in fish. Studies have suggested that consuming small amounts of walnuts can help to increase fat oxidation and improve body fat levels in overweight adults.
Chestnuts contain very little fat, and are lower in calories than most other nuts, due to their high water content.
Thanks to their outer skin, hazelnuts are a great source of dietry fibre, which helps promote a feeling of fullness and plays a role in bowel and heart health. Hazelnuts are more than 10% dietry fibre.
Adding nuts into your diet
For maximum health benefits, eat a variety of nuts and aim for a 30-50g serve most days. You can eat them on their own as a great healthy snack, or sneak them into your diet in other ways, like sprinkling them onto your stir-fry, pasta or salad, adding into muffin mixture, or adding on top of your fruit salad or breakfast cereal.
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