Just step into the supermarket and you can find a wide array of nuts available. But you may wonder just which ones are the healthier choices? To date, the perfect answer is still unknown.
From one health study conducted at the Loma Linda University in California, it was found that slightly more peanuts were consumed as compared to other tree nuts like walnuts and almonds. The results revealed that 32% nuts were peanuts that are eaten, 16% walnuts, 29% almonds and 23% are other types. However, researchers could not judge whether these nuts were oil-roasted, dry-roasted or fresh. From another study, it was found that peanuts, technically known as ‘legumes’, help to reduce risks of heart diseases as effectively as tree nuts.
Researches also conducted experiments on a sample group of volunteers who were fed various nuts in a daily diet for a couple of weeks. The study showed that almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and pistachio nuts all affect our blood composition in different ways which lower coronary disease risks. Chestnuts, having low fat, are still not being studied properly.
The advice to people is to eat different varieties of nuts, given that different nuts have their distinctive nutritional value. Walnuts, for instance may be beneficial for our body as they contain n-3 fatty acids. Coconuts, on the other hand, should be avoided as they contain highly saturated fats which may cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It is still not completely known why nuts are viewed as health-promoting food. For one, we know that nuts possess unsaturated fats at high levels and saturated fats at low levels. As compared to other fatty acids, nuts lower the level of blood cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart troubles.
Nuts are also a good means of obtaining Vitamin E, fiber, copper, folic acid, amino acid, arginine as well as magnesium. Each of these vitamin and minerals all play a role in keep out heart healthy. It is also wise to include nuts as part of your daily diet as they also contain minerals like manganese and plant sterols which have been found to reduce cholesterol adsorption from food.
Nuts can be a very versatile ingredient to include in your food. Besides using them as spreads on your sandwiches, include nuts in your recipes – walnut muffins, almond cookies, salads topped with cashew nuts! There are so many interesting recipes you can experiment with; just search on the internet and you can find a number of good recipes worth trying out.
Nut butters of peanut, cashew, almond, hazelnut may undoubtedly be the most commonly found food in most households. Although these may be very tasty, beware that commercially made nut butters contain additional saturated fats, sugar and salt, thus it is advisable not to consume them in large amounts. If you have the time to spare, try making your own nut butter at home by first roasting, grinding and then blending the nuts.