Many people who are trying to lose some weight steer clear of high fat foods such as nuts, but in fact nuts are one of the healthiest snacking options around.
The fat content of nuts will mean they are instantly satisfying, and as the fat is unsaturated, it can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels rather than increasing them.
Nuts in general are a healthy choice, but the different varieties of nuts vary in their nutritional benefits.
Apart from the healthy types of fats contained in nuts, they are also a good source of dietary fibre, which is essential for keeping the bowel healthy and preventing conditions such as bowel cancer. Foods which are high in fibre also take longer to digest, meaning that you feel fuller for longer. Many of the issues with nuts come from the fact that they are often sold with lots of added salt or sugary coatings, which reduces the health benefits and raises the calorie count at the same time.
For people trying to lose weight, cashews, pistachios and almonds are the three types of nuts that are the best choice as they are the lowest in calories.
The nutritional benefits are the same whether the nuts are raw or dry roasted, but avoid nuts with added salt or sugar and those which have been roasted in oil as the oil used may often cancel out some of the health benefits from the nut oils.
Pistachios are also the nut which is highest in potassium, and almonds have very high levels of Vitamin E when compared with other nuts.
Walnuts are very high in antioxidants, the chemical compounds which help to protect the body against disease and fight against the signs of aging. Walnuts are also thought to be anti-inflammatory, and help fight off free radicals which can cause damage in the body.
Walnuts are versatile and can be eaten as a snack or put into a salad or even a healthy wholegrain or wholewheat muffin or cake.
As well as the healthy fats and the fibre contained in all nuts, hazelnuts are particularly rich in flavonoids. These chemicals are thought to help improve circulation, keep your brain healthy and are linked with reducing allergic reactions. Hazelnuts also have high levels of Vitamin E and B, which are vital for keeping skin, hair and energy levels at good levels.
The distinctive flavour of hazelnuts is not to everyone’s taste, but they are a versatile choice and can be added to a salad, breakfast cereal or eaten as a quick snack to boost energy levels between meals.
Cashews have similar levels of calories than other nuts and are therefore equally rich in essential fats. These sorts of nuts also have high levels of Vitamin K, which has a number of properties which include keeping bones healthy. There is also thought to be a link between good levels of Vitamin K and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Cashews are also rich in iron, essential for healthy blood.
Try these 5 Ingredient Chocolate Cashew Cups for a sweet treat!
Although individual types of nuts have different nutritional benefits, a study by Harvard University concluded that the best way for someone to ensure they are getting the maximum benefit from eating nuts, the best thing to eat is a good quality mixture of nuts which include all of the nuts discussed above, along with other nuts such as peanuts and pecans.