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5 Nuts You Should Go Nuts About

Despite being a high-energy food, nuts aren’t ‘fattening’ and can actually help reduce our risk of obesity.

WARNING: this article may contain traces of tree nuts. Okay – all jokes and puns aside – it’s fair to say that a lot of us are still overly cautious about including nuts as a regular part of our diet.

Somewhere during the low-fat diet hype of the 80s and 90s, nuts were labelled the “F” word – “fattening”. Despite new clinical evidence that indicates regular nut consumption can actually help combat the kilos, the “fattening” label still rules true.

Quite frankly, it’s even more old-school and outdated than Myspace – and this is why. It may seem contradictory at first – kilojoule-dense nuts playing a crucial role in the fight against the fat – but the newest research indicates that eating 1-2 handfuls (30-50g) of unsalted tree nuts per day does not cause weight gain.

In fact, it can even reduce our risk of obesity.

The twist of fats

Let me first clear any misunderstanding. I’m not saying tree nuts are a low-energy food, because they do in fact contain high quantities of mono- and polyunsaturated fats

The twist in the tale comes when we eat nuts, as the human body is unable to properly digest the fat, resulting in 10-15% of the energy we just ate being excreted.

Of the fat that is digested, the process of oxidising (breaking down) these unsaturated fats is associated with a 10% boost to our metabolism – which once again means more energy out.

Starting to see how this nutty jigsaw piece fits into the kilo curbing puzzle?

Super nutrients

Ironically, it’s not entirely about the fat. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give a quick mention to two of the super nutrients in nuts that often seem to play second fiddle to the fat when in the public eye.

Nuts are packed full of protein (containing almost all essential amino acids) and fibre – both well-known to help satisfy hunger and reduce our appetite. This can lead to less snacking later in the day, helping to minimise overall daily energy intake.

Oh, and can you guess what other nutrient in nuts makes us feel full? Yep, the fat in nuts releases hormones that curb hunger too!

As you can see, the beneficial role nut consumption can play in curbing the kilos has long been smothered and jaded by the term “fattening”.

But now that science has begun to uncover the fat-fighting metabolic secrets of nuts, perhaps we will no longer be so liberal with the F-word.

5 healthiest nuts to munch on

1. Almonds

Source: healingisessential.com

Source: healingisessential.com

If you’re watching your calories, almonds might just fit the bill. They’re lower in calories than other nuts [1], but come packed with a load of dietary fibre, calcium and vitamin E, which reduces cholesterol and your risk of developing cancer [2].

2. Macadamia

Source: coldpressshop.com

Source: coldpressshop.com

These are luxury nuts thanks to their high price tag but they are also high in monounsaturated fats which can help reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Macadamias are also a good source of fibre, Vitamin B1 and Manganese (which help build bones) [3].

3. Pistachios

Source: athleticperformancetc.wordpress.com

Source: athleticperformancetc.wordpress.com

Pistachios are amongst the nuts with the lowest calories (half of that of almonds), plus being in a shell meant that you would be consuming less calories. This is because it takes time for your stomach to send the signal to your brain telling it that it’s full. By shelling the nuts, you take a longer time eating, which gives your body more time to register its fullness [4]. Pistachios are also a great source of vitamin B6, copper, and manganese [5].

4. Walnuts

Source: lifehack.org

Source: lifehack.org

Walnuts is nutrition powerhouse containing high amounts of anti-oxidants which help combat aging while the omega-3 fatty acids help protect against heart disease [6]. There’s also been a recent study showing how the high anti-oxidant content in walnuts could play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease by protecting the brain from degeneration [7].

5. Brazil Nuts

Source: easytoeatnuts.com

Source: easytoeatnuts.com

Rich in mono-unsaturated fats and selenium, Brazil nuts help prevent heart diseases by lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful anti-oxidant that can protect you from harmful free radicals. [8]

 So if you are not already having a handful or two each day, now is the perfect time to go nuts!

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Which nut is your favourite? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

 

Edited by The HealthWorks Team
Contributed by Johan Leech, an accredited dietitian who writes about food, health, and lifestyle at his blog www.spoonfedcred.com

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