In light of ‘World Pistachio Day’ (yes – there really is a day for everything now) we wanted to share some health promoting benefits of nuts, dispel some of the common myths associated with eating these plant-based nutrient powerhouses and shine some light on some of the lesser known varieties.
For this article we’ve partnered with our friends at Protein and Pantry who deliver some delicious and innovative nutritious snacks using one of our favourite ingredients – the humble nut.
So firstly, let’s dispel the most common myth associated with the consumption of nuts:
MYTH: Nuts cause weight gain
It’s well understood that nuts are a great source of healthy fats and unfortunately with that understanding comes the assumption that healthy dietary fats cause weight gain. This is not the case at all. In fact, healthy dietary fats have been associated with increased brain health, improved joint health and improved heart health. Monounsaturated fatty acids (the kind found in nuts) are associated with increasing the HDL (high density lipoprotein – aka the good cholesterol) and decreasing the LDL (low density lipoprotein – aka the bad cholesterol). We have a whole article on this so please click here for more on cholesterol.
One of the reasons why it is assumed that dietary fat contributes to weight gain is due to the calorie content of dietary fats. 1g of dietary fat contains 9kcal compared to carbohydrates and protein which contain 4kcal per 1g. Although, dietary fats and protein contributes to satiety and therefore you’re likely to consume less when you’re more satiated.
Another reason why dietary fat and the healthy fats from nuts are so important is that they help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, namely: Vitamins A, D, E and K.
Now that we’ve gotten over that myth lets talk about some of the benefits associated with individual nuts.
As this post is in light of ‘World Pistachio Day’ we thought we would start with the great pistachio!
These green goods are a rich source of plant-based iron. You can increase the bioavailability (the amount of the nutrient which can be absorbed and utilised) of plant-based iron by adding a source of vitamin C. We recommend chopping up an apple and enjoying the pair together.
These are among the most popular kids on the block. Almonds are rich in magnesium, a nutrient which is required in over 300 processes in the body and helps with muscle and neve relaxation. When almonds are consumed whole the fibre prevents the absorption of around 25% of the calories, therefore if you are someone who is concerned about the calories in nuts these may be a better option. Why not try the popcorn almonds delivered by our friends over at Protein and Pantry.
These are less common, although no less nutrient dense. Brazil nuts are known for their selenium content. Selenium is required in male fertility as it’s role is to help the sperm to swim. Selenium is also vital in supporting a healthy immune function. Remember though portion size is key when it comes to these larger nuts.
Macadamia nuts are said to have the best omega-3: omega-6 ratio. A low ratio of omega-3 to higb omega-6 is associated with increased inflammation. Therefore, try mixing your nuts up to pack in the omega-3s too! Try our roasted fruit and nut mix to load up on the macadamias.
Cashews are a very good source of magnesium that ever so important micronutrient discussed above. They also contain some calcium which is important if you’re on a plant-based diet.
We apologise that we’ve lumped these in with the nuts when they’re technically a legume. Although, forgive us please as we felt it was important that these kings didn’t get left out. Peanut are very high in protein (significantly higher than the other nuts). Therefore, they’re more likely to keep you even fuller for longer and help to stabilise your blood sugar levels. Peanut butter is one of the most popular ways to consume peanuts in the diet. Ensure that you’re going for one with no added sugars and no palm oil where possible. We also recommend trying our delicious chicken satay made with Manilife peanut butter… If you don’t know, let us introduce you!
There you have the spotlight on nuts. Hopefully we’ve managed to convince you that these really are nutritional powerhouses which we would encourage you to incorporate into your diet (unless of course you have an allergy). Remember though portion size is key. A typical portion is around 25g (one small handful).