Nuts are a tasty, convenient, popular, and readily available food. They can be eaten raw or roasted and pack a serious nutritional punch. They are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals and fat which provide numerous health benefits. The most commonly consumed nuts are almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts.
Benefits of eating nuts
They are high in fat, low in carbs, and a great source of protein, vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. They are also a source of phosphorus, copper, manganese, and fibre.
Packed with antioxidants
They are a rich source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight oxidative stress which can cause cell damage and increase the risk of disease. They protect healthy cells. Walnuts and almonds in particular have been found to significantly reduce oxidative stress. Vitamin E also boosts skin health and helps fight the effects of free radicals that lead to wrinkles and premature ageing. Vitamin E in nuts also boosts immune function, increases the metabolic functions of the body, and promotes cellular repair.
Improve cardiovascular health
They contain a large amount of good (HDL) cholesterol. This good cholesterol actually has the effect of reducing the presence of bad (LDL) cholesterol which is associated with a higher risk of heart disease including stroke and heart attack. One study found that macadamia nuts reduced cholesterol as much as a lower-fat diet.
Moderate consumption of nuts overall helps lower the risk of heart disease.
Beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people globally. Nuts are low in carbs and do not raise blood sugar levels much. Research has led to regular consumption of nuts being recommended as a way of managing diabetes.
Aid in digestion and prevents digestive issues
Every single nut variety has high fibre content. Fibre aids in digestion by bulking up stool which makes it move easier reducing constipation. This reduces the chances of developing digestive conditions like haemorrhoids. Fibre also works towards scrubbing out excess cholesterol from the body and fibre also improves gut health by acting as food for healthy gut bacteria.
May reduce inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction as it works to defend the body from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens or invaders. The body sometimes triggers this defence process even when there are no invaders to fight off leading to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other inflammation-related diseases include heart diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and even mental illness like depression.
Research shows that eating nuts may reduce inflammation and promote healthy ageing. Another study found that people who ate nuts experienced a decrease in their inflammatory markers. Brazil nuts, walnuts, and almonds have been found to fight inflammation in healthy people and also in people with chronic conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.
Nuts are high in fat which may seem counterintuitive when it comes to weight loss but that’s not the case. The fat in them is almost entirely unsaturated which has the effect of making you feel satisfied after eating which leads to eating less over time. They are a great natural way to regulate appetite. Studies have found that people who eat nuts are at a lower risk of gaining weight compared to those who do not.
Help fight mental disorders
Nuts help combat the debilitating effects of mental disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and depression due to the omega-3 fatty acid content. The compounds in nuts also help increase blood flow to the brain increasing healthy cognitive function.
Top nuts to eat
- Almonds improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and aid in weight loss and digestion. Also helps improve insulin sensitivity. Increase beneficial cholesterol, enhance memory function and protect against breast cancer.
- Pistachios improve cholesterol levels and may reduce blood sugar after a meal. They boost motor function and reduce oxidative stress.
- Walnuts provide omega-3 which may improve brain function, balance cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Cashews are full of antioxidants and provide heart-healthy fats. They reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Pecans decrease cholesterol levels and boost antioxidant levels.
- Macadamia nuts boost heart health, reduce inflammation, and balance cholesterol.
- Brazil nuts are one of the healthiest nuts. They are rich in selenium which is an important antioxidant. Lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol. Also, help fight inflammation.
- Hazelnuts are among the healthiest when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease. They lower cholesterol levels and boost vitamin E.
- Peanuts lower the risk of diabetes and improve heart disease risk factors. Peanut intake was associated with lower death rates. Asthma and allergic disease are also lower in women who consumed peanuts when pregnant.
Nuts are linked to stronger immune systems, better digestion, stronger cardiovascular health, and lower incidences of inflammation-related diseases. They also contribute to brain function and mental health and are delicious and readily available to boot.
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