nuts – Healthy superfoods – by Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando

 

Anyone who follows a healthy diet knows how adding nuts to the diet can increase its value. Nuts are packed with healthy fats, fibers and also taste yum that many people enjoy them on the go. Nuts are inexpensive, easy to pack and easy to store. Many studies have shown that nuts can benefit health in many ways. While there are many types of nuts available and all of them taste well, certain kinds of nuts are considered as healthier options; Almonds, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecan and Brazilian nuts are regarded as the healthiest. Peanuts, which are technically a legume and not nuts are also considered to be relatively healthy.

Nuts contain a lot of proteins and other healthy nutrients. These substances make nuts a healthy choice to prevent heart diseases, lose weight, obtain a healthy skin and to optimize health in many ways. A few of those nutrients that are present in nuts are;

  • Unsaturated fatty acids

Nuts are packed with fats and especially healthy fats that are known as “polyunsaturated” and “monounsaturated” fats. These types of fats reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood and antagonize the unhealthy effects of saturated fats you consume. Unsaturated fats increase the good cholesterols (HDL) in the body and wipe out the bad cholesterols (LDL, VLDL). Thus ensure that your heart and blood vessels are safe and healthy.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are taken as supplements to improve heart health and reduce the level of bad cholesterols in the body. Nuts are packed with omega 3 –the vegetarian omega 3 supplements are made with fats extracted from nuts and seeds. Omega 3 is not only a heart-healthy fat but is also an essential fat for brain development and function. Studies have shown that omega 3 fats are needed for healthy development of a child’s brain and that these fats can improve the cognitive functions of the brain at any age. Consuming nuts also play a protective role in the aging brain. They prevent brain conditions like dementia and Alzheimer disease.

  • Fiber

Nuts contain fiber. That’s why you feel full after consuming a few nuts. The fibers in nuts thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes, by reducing the release of glucose from consumed food in the gut.

  • Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps STOP the development of fat deposits in your blood vessels. Fat deposits can narrow the blood vessels and cause coronary artery disease or heart attacks.

Vitamin E is also responsible for regulating hormones levels in females. Consuming nuts can help in overcoming hormonal fluctuations as if before menstruation and during menopause.

Healthy skin also requires vitamin E. The best way to consume vitamin E in a natural way is by nuts and seeds. This helps your skin to glow more and to fight better against free radicals.

  • Plant sterols

Not all nuts, but some contain plant sterols – a substance that lowers your bad cholesterols.

  • L-arginine

Nuts also contain L-arginine. It is a substance that improves the health of the vessel walls by allowing them to be more flexible and elastic. Thereby these vessels become less prone to form blood clots that can block the blood flow.

The health benefits and nutritional value of fats are really high. But it is always a question, how much fat should a person eat? 80% of a nut is composed of fats – healthy fats. Anyhow, any fat is high in calories. Therefore, eating nuts in moderation will be the best way to consume it. Try your best to use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs, and dairy products. You may also try substituting a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut spread as a healthier choice. According to The American Heart Association, you should consume about four servings of unsalted nuts a week. A serving is a small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter