The Health Benefits Of Nuts
Many epidemiological studies have shown that eating nuts is correlated with many markers of good health and lower rates of obesity and chronic diseases.
Replacing parts of your diet with nuts can have a positive effect on your health. As state by Harvard Health,
“An analysis of data from the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study showed that having one serving of nuts a day is associated with a 30% lower risk of heart disease compared with having one serving of red meat a day.”
And in the Blue Zones, where the population has a disproportionately high rate of active, healthy centenarians, nuts are a key part of their diets.
The Hazelnut And Its Proteins
Hazelnuts have a protein content of 16.3 g per 100 g. This is especially interesting for a vegan and vegetarian diet. How well the protein is absorbed or utilised can be measured by its biological value. The higher the value, the better. The hazelnut has a value of 50, oat flakes in comparison a value of 64.
What Is Protein And Why Do I Need It
Protein is found in every living thing, and it is made of various amino acids. While our body can create its own supply of many amino acids, there are nine that we need to get from dietary sources. “Complete” proteins, such as meat, quinoa and soybeans, provide us with all the dietary amino acids that our bodies need, and other good sources of protein include nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables also provide some protein. Protein requirements vary depending on age, sex and activity level, but generally you should get 30 to 60 grams of protein a day.
- Protein is found in every living thing, and it is made of various amino acids.
- Complete” proteins, such as meat, quinoa and soybeans, provide us with all the dietary amino acids that our bodies need, and other good sources of protein include nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and whole grains.
Ask A Nutritionist: What Are The Best Sources Of Plant
Maybe youve heard of the EAT-Lancet Commission Report that outlines a healthy-people, healthy-planet eating pattern. This report, which was developed by 37 scientists and released earlier this year, found that the best diet for both people and the planet includes a variety of plant-based foods, is low in animal proteins, favors unsaturated over saturated fats, and limits refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.
Evidence suggests this pattern of eating is linked with a longer life expectancy, and just as importantly, a quality of life that includes a healthier body and mind.
Eating more plant-based foods can do your body a world of good. Past studies show this eating pattern may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes promote a slimmer waistline and healthier body weight provide higher levels of important nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, and fiber reduce inflammation and oxidative stress that can promote cell damage , and promotes a sharper mind with fewer memory problems over time.
Best Snack Packaging For Nuts
Choose 100- to 200-calorie packs
Because nuts are so high in calories , it’s important to practice portion control when eating them as a snack. We love Blue Diamond Almonds 100-calorie snack packs, available in six flavors, including Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Dark Chocolate. Want more variety? Pick up Planters Nutrition Wholesome Nut Mix on-the-go packs, each containing a 200-calorie mix of cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts.
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Cottage Cheese Peaches And Honey
Cottage cheese is relatively low in calories and sugar, and very high in proteinenough that only 4 ounces of cottage cheese will provide around 20-25 percent of daily protein requirements! Pair it with a chopped peach and a touch honey for a sweet hint. Peaches have been found to ward off obesity and heart disease with its ample dose of beta carotene.
Heart Healthy Nuts Improve Your Cholesterol Profile
Fats are thought to hurt or improve heart health by modulating HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.
It has been shown that the ratio of HDL to LDL is a risk factor for heart disease, and fatty acids that increase HDL more than they increase LDL are better for your heart.
Palmitic acid is a saturated fatty acid that increases LDL more than it increases HDL. This is generally not an improvement.
But lauric acid, myristic acid, and stearic acid have been shown to increase HDL more than LDL when switching these fats from carbohydrates – a good thing.
So on average, saturated fats do little to change your cholesterol profile when switching and equal amount of calories from carbohydrates, but the specific saturated fatty acids do matter.
But beyond saturated fats, unsaturated fatty acids improve this cholesterol profile even further.
Monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid, improve the HDL:LDL ratio when switching from carbohydrates, but polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, improve it even further.
The most heart healthy nut on our ranking is the walnut! Walnut’s benefits to health are plentiful, but their fat quality makes it our most heart healthy nut!
See the snapshot of our analysis, below. Or use our interactive charts, here!
Best Nuts For Weight Loss
This is kind of like asking whats the ideal beer for an alcoholic, as theres not really a good answer!
Among the ten, none of them are low calorie. If youre serious about losing weight it would probably be optimal to cut them out of your diet altogether, at least for the first few weeks as you drop some pounds.
The outlier chestnuts would be an exception.
With over 60% less calories than #2 and #3 , there is no debating chestnuts are best for weight loss. Theyre extremely low fat in comparison.
If youre diabetic its worth noting they have the most sugar 9 grams of sugar per 100 grams. So are they still a good and healthy nut for diabetics? With a glycemic index of 54 for crushed & uncooked, they may not be great, but theyre not the worst choice you could make for snacking, thats for sure!
If youre on a keto or low carb diet keep in mind that chestnuts have the most carbohydrates by far. All the others are low carb.
What do chestnuts taste like? Without flavoring, many people are not fans, yet others love them. Can they be eaten raw and uncooked? Yes, if you use a sharp knife to peel them, but even fewer like raw chestnuts and hence, why you only hear about the roasted version. A description of their taste would be a starchy firm potato, with a hint of hazelnut flavor, and a bit of sweetness. Love em or hate em, you wont know til you try!
Consdierations For Those With Medical Conditions Or Special Diets
Protein deficiency can particularly pose a problem for strict vegetarians, people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, and those with gastrointestinal problems such as Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. These groups of people must be particularly vigilant that they get enough protein in their diets and protein from a variety of sources.
It is important to get protein from different sources, particularly for vegetarians and vegans, because of the composition of different proteins and their contributions to the body. Proteins are composed of building blocks known as amino acids. The body breaks down dietary proteins into these building blocks before rearranging them to create structures needed for a wide variety of essential functions throughout the body.
Dietary proteins are placed into two categories: complete and incomplete proteins. Of the twenty amino acids that our bodies need, only nine cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained via the diet these amino acids are considered essential. A complete protein is one that contains all nine essential amino acids .
Many animal proteins, such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are complete proteins, though there are also non-animal complete proteins, including quinoa, soy, sprouted grain bread, and buckwheat. Fortunately for vegetarians, it is also possible to eat complementary incomplete proteins that provide the full nine amino acids your body needs.
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Nuts And Their Nutrients Find Out Why They Are So Healthy
Nuts are excellent sources of nutrients not only do they provide us with healthy fats, they also supply us with plenty of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They should therefore not be missing in any nutritional plan. Nevertheless, many people label them as calorie bombs and avoid them in their diet in order to
What Are Some Easy Ways To Incorporate Plant
According to Sass, when you’re eating healthfully, the bulk of your meals should be plant-based anyway: veggies, a plant-based fat, like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or tahini and a whole grain or starchy veggie, like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato or spaghetti squash.
That means the only switch you need to make is to trade your meat for a plant alternative, which is easier than you think, she says. For many people, when they think about what to make for dinner they focus on meat first. Change that pattern by adding pulses and pea protein-based meat substitutes to your protein list, she suggests.
To get more comfortable with plant proteins, Jackie Newgent, RDN and author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook”, recommends starting off with plant protein-rich ingredients, like peanut butter or hummus, which youre already acquainted with and then taking it from there. For instance, if youre already enjoying hummus as a dip, use it as a sandwich spread or a toast topper, she says.
Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, suggests a similar approach in this case, for smoothie lovers: Blend plant proteins, like edamame, tofu, or canned chickpeas in for a protein punch. These mix-ins pick up the flavors of the other ingredients, and so they wont taste as strong as if you were to eat them alone.
Try this recipe:High Protein Vanilla Bean Smoothie
Try this recipe: Vegan Breakfast Tacos
Nuts Seeds And Weight Management
Although nuts and seeds are high in energy and fats, eating nuts is not connected with weight gain. In fact, based on large population studies, higher nut intake has been associated with lower body weight.
When included as part of a weight-loss diet, nuts have been shown to enhance weight loss and fat loss in the abdominal region.
Lower fat in the abdominal region means lower risk for chronic diseases . Therefore, nuts should be part of a healthy diet.
recommend 30 grams of nuts on most days of the week.
Nuts help with:
- Fat absorption fats in nuts are not fully digested and absorbed by the body. When less fats are absorbed it means that less energy from nuts is absorbed too.
- Hunger and fullness nuts help to suppress our hunger. As a result, food intake is reduced. This effect is due to the protein, fat, and fibre content of nuts.
- Energy expenditure research suggests that nuts can increase the amount of energy we burn. Energy we burn following a nut-enriched meal comes from fat sources, meaning that we burn more and store less fat.
The effect of seeds on body weight has not been researched extensively but is likely to be similar to nuts as they are also high in protein, healthy fat and fibre.
Healthy Vegan Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
- 2tbspagave syrup or maple syrup
- 1pinch of salt
- First put the hazelnuts in your blender or food processor and grind them.
- Then add the remaining ingredients to the mixer until you have a creamy mixture.
- You can eat the vegan hazelnut cream immediately. You can use it, for example, as a spread for your breakfast bread or to refine your porridge or overnight oats.
- It is best to keep the spread in a preserving jar. It will stay fresh for about 3-4 days.
Health Nuts: Ranking Nuts
Heres our list of favorite nuts, ranked by their nutrient density. These varieties contain the most protein, fiber, B-vitamins, calcium, minerals, and vitamin E for the least amount of saturated fat:
Almonds. Our Top Nut award goes to the almond. Here are the main nutrients in one ounce of almonds :
- 166 calories
- 14 grams of fat
- 4 grams of fiber , unblanched
- 80 milligrams of calcium
- 6.7 milligrams of vitamin E
- some B-vitamins, minerals, and selenium
Filberts, because they are high in the amino acid tryptophan, are a good nut for sleep. Almonds and filberts have the most vitamin E nearly 25 percent of the adult recommended dietary allowance.
The Best Nuts Are Good Sources Of Fiber
Fiber is a very important dietary component that we often don’t get enough of in our diets.
Learn more about fiber intake, and see how much we eat on average!
Fiber is important for everything from heath health and gut health to weight-loss and insulin regulation.
The healthiest nuts are fiber-dense. A few particularly high on the list are gingko nuts and chestnuts.
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Low Carb Nuts And Seed
So which nut or seed was most surprising? Which one will you never buy again? For me, I went to town when I first went low carb, thinking it was OK to snack on nuts again. And it is but to a point. I snack on them occasionally, I don’t buy roasted or oiled nuts and I put a few in my hand then put the packet back in my pantry.
Nuts and seeds are lovely to snack on, full of trace elements and minerals, but it is helpful to know how many carbs are in each to make an informed choice.
Spend your carbs wisely.
Peanut Butter Stuffed Banana
Two ingredients and two easy steps, what more could we ask for in delicious high protein snacks. Just slice one small banana in half lengthwise and sandwich about 2 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter between. If you’re feeling really fancy, drizzle on honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon. This high-protein banana sandwich is the perfect cure to midday cravings.
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The Healthiest Nuts Have High Concentrations Of Many Nutrients
To rank high our list of the healthiest nuts, it takes more than just a high density of one or two nutrients.
For example, chestnuts have nearly 5.5X the daily recommended intake value on a per-calorie basis – far more than any of the other nuts.
But in our ranking, this doesn’t provide over twice the nutrient value of gingko nuts with around 2.2X the DRI.
Why? You will just pee out most of the extra!
Consuming many of these nutrients in excess of quantities that should provide enough nutrition to thwart both clinical and sub-clinical deficiencies won’t provide much added benefit.
Therefore, the healthiest nuts in our ranking have a high density of nutrients, but also a breadth of nutrients. They provide a more complete and well-balanced source of more nutrition than the others.
Taking all of this into consideration, the gingko nut ranks #1 on our list of the healthiest nuts!
Although less popular in the US, gingko nuts – nuts from the gingko biloba tree – are popular in Japan.
Gingko nuts are dense with many essential nutrients, they contain important phytochemicals, they are low calorie and dense with fiber, and they have a heart healthy fat profile.
What’s last on the list?
Well, without further adieu, here is a snapshot of our ranking of the healthiest nuts from best to worst. Feel free to use our interactive chart, here!
Best Nuts For Disease Prevention
Relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health. Plus, they are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight dangerous inflammation and possibly health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.
Because they’re so versatile, almonds are often a favorite among nut eaters: You can buy them raw, toasted, slivered, or coated with a variety of fun flavors, from Wasabi & Soy Sauce to Lime ‘n Chili.
Are Nuts Safe For Everyone
Although a beneficial food for many, tree nuts are one of the eight most common food allergens and as a result can cause allergic reactions, including severe anaphylaxis. Cross contamination is a particular concern for those with a nut allergy and requires extra caution when eating away from home. Whole nuts may pose a choking risk, especially for the under-fives.
This article was last reviewed on 6 October 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist with a postgraduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the past 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.