Why you should go nuts for nuts
They are small, but perfectly packed with the healthy nutrients our body needs.
From walnuts and almonds to hazelnuts and cashews, nuts are one of the healthiest and most convenient snacks around.
Health benefits of nuts – and how many you should eat
Dietary guidelines recommend we have around 30g of nuts a day – a small palmful – but the Australian Bureau of Statistics says most people eat only 6g a day.
Some people avoid nuts because of allergies. But many people also give nuts a miss because they believe they are full of fat.
Nuts are rich in fat – but it’s the healthy unsaturated kind that our body needs for fuel, for good blood cholesterol levels and for heart health.
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Nuts also contain protein, fibre and vitamins including folate, vitamin E, calcium, iron and zinc – all important for general wellbeing, says Lisa Renn, of the Dietitians Association of Australia.
“Nuts contain 10 to 20 per cent protein, similar to eggs,” says Lisa.
“They are a great source of protein, which we need for growth and repair in the body. Protein also makes us feel fuller for longer.
“Raw or roasted nuts are best – avoid salted or chocolate-coated nuts. Add them to recipes, such as adding slivered almonds to an apple crumble topping or using them in cereals or a stir-fry.”
Which nuts are healthiest?
Almonds contain healthy unsaturated fat, no cholesterol and are high in vitamin E – an antioxidant that is good for heart health, says Nuts for Life.
They also contain arginine that helps prevent hardening of the arteries, and calcium.
A serve of almonds gives you about 10 per cent of your daily fibre requirement.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium – an antioxidant that helps our immune system and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
They also contain healthy fats and 10 per cent of our daily fibre needs.
Research suggests a palmful of Brazil nuts can reduce heart disease risk by 30 to 50 per cent.
Cashews are packed with healthy fats, fibre, magnesium, copper and zinc.
A serve of cashews also provides around 12 per cent of our recommended daily iron intake and 12 per cent of our daily zinc, which is important for healthy hair, skin and the immune system.
These nuts are a good source of vitamin E – a 30g serve will give you about 45 per cent of daily vitamin E intake.
They are also a good source of folate, copper and manganese.
Pistachios contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, usually found in red wine.
Studies suggest resveratrol is antiviral and protects the heart.
They also contain healthy fats and fibre.
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that reduces inflammation in the body and may help lower heart disease risk.
They may also help cholesterol levels and blood vessel health.
Written by Sarah Marinos.