Little powerhouses of nutrients in our hands |24 June 2022
When we think of nuts we usually think of a small insignificant snack, or something to keep the mouth busy while having a drink.
But it turns out that most of them are little powerhouses of nutrients.
They can boost our daily intake of not only protein and carbohydrates, but healthy fats and important vitamins such as magnesium and selenium. They’re also a good source of fibre.
Crunchy, filling, and nutritious, nuts are therefore a fantastic ingredient to have in your pantry.
They’re great on their own, paired with fruit or grains and added to dishes like salads.
Unfortunately, most of the best and most nutritious nuts are imported and therefore tend to be rather expensive. But a little effort to 're-prioritise’ your household budget should allow you to start including a small handful in your daily habits.
Nine nutritious nuts to add to your diet
Almonds are the cheaper end of tentacle. You can eat them raw or roasted, and they’re often made into almond butter, almond flour, and almond milk.
They are particularly rich in vitamin E, that functions as an antioxidant to protect your cells against oxidative damage and supports immune function.
Finally, almonds may promote gut health by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Pistachios are vibrant nuts packed with nutrients but are lower in calories and fat than many other nuts.
Pistachios are a good source of numerous nutrients, including vitamin B6, which your body needs for nutrient metabolism and immune function.
Additionally, these nuts are rich in phytochemicals like carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins, all of which have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Walnuts are linked to multiple health benefits and have an impressive nutrient profile.
They are an excellent source of copper, a mineral that your body needs to produce enzymes involved in energy production and nerve function.
Walnuts have been shown to benefit heart health and may reduce several heart disease risk factors, including elevated blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Research also suggests that eating a few walnuts per day may improve brain function.
Cashews have a crunchy texture and creamy mouthfeel that pair well with both savoury and sweet dishes. You can eat them raw, roasted, or as nut butter.
These nuts are a good source of several nutrients that are essential to bone health, including protein, vitamin K, magnesium, and manganese.
Pecans are mild nuts that are popular for cakes, pies, salads, and grain dishes.
Like other nuts, pecans are rich in healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
They’re a good source of the mineral zinc, which plays an important role in immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, growth and development.
Macadamia nuts have a buttery texture and are high in healthy fats and lower in carbohydrates than many nuts.
Adding macadamia nuts to your diet is therefore beneficial to your health.
7. Brazil nuts
These harder to find nuts are a rich source of many nutrients.
Brazil nuts are high in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and magnesium, a mineral that’s essential for blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, nerve function, and energy production.
Moreover, these nuts are one of the richest dietary sources of selenium, a nutrient your body needs for critical functions like thyroid hormone production and DNA synthesis.
Hazelnuts are highly nutritious, packing healthy fats, protein, and fibre.
In addition to being a good source of vitamins and minerals, hazelnuts are loaded with phytochemicals like gallic acid, epicatechin, caffeic acid, and quercetin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
While peanuts technically belong to the legume family, they have a nutrient profile similar to that of tree nuts, comparable health benefits, and related culinary uses.
Peanuts are a rich source of plant protein, which can help you feel full, and are high in folate, a B vitamin that’s especially important during pregnancy due to its role in foetal and placental development.
Many peanut butters and nut butters contain added oils, sugars and additives to improve the texture and taste of the final product, but it’s best to choose products that don’t contain these ingredients. As such, be sure to read food labels carefully.
The best solution is to learn to make your own, and these days the best way is to go through the school of hard knocks, as they say, and experiment with online video tutorials.
You'll soon find out that what you can make yourself at home is way healthier than store bought.
The bottom line
Nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts are a great source of nutrients, such as protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
When eaten as part of a nutrient-dense diet, nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease and support immune health, among other benefits.
Plus, nuts are versatile and delicious. You can enjoy them on their own or add them to cereals, smoothies, salads or whatever takes your fancy really.
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Yours in health
The E4OH Team