Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Nutty Affair

nuts-400There is nothing permanent in life, it flows, zigzags, creates dictums and erases them. Nuts have a nutty tale to share–while few years back they were considered as diet busting devils and ought to be banished from the plate for slimmer waistlines, they have resurrected themselves and are back on the platter now, for the same reason—slimmer waistlines. Not only the new nutrition mantra celebrates the goodness of nuts and insists that we have the poly-mono-omega3-dense-nuts, as they are vital to our health, but insists that nuts help us lose weight and keep it off.

Make nuts an ally in your fight against diabetes and heart disease. Polished rice, potatoes, packaged foods—chips, muffins and juices soar our blood sugar levels, causing an instant surge of energy, which crashes later, thereby making us hunt for some more quick fixes. Regular somersaults caused by these foods wear our pancreas, thus predisposing us to diabetes. On the contrast nuts provide sustained energy as their mixture of fat and protein make them a slow burning food. No surprises, to guess, they are friendly to our blood sugar. In fact, Harvard researchers discovered that women who regularly ate nuts (about a handful five times a week) were 20 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat them as often.

Snacking on nuts will give you steadier heartbeat. According to a Harvard Medical School press release, nuts are rich in arginine (an amino acid and a constituent of proteins) that improves the health of artery walls and blood vessel function. Their work shows that nuts are healthy, especially for men at risk for heart disease. Some nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, also contain plant sterols, which have been shown to lower cholesterol, and a natural compound called resveratrol, the same one found in red wine and shown to lower heart disease risk. Like fish, walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fats, another shot in the arm against heart disease.

Squirrel nuts for slimmer waistlines. Research over the past two decades has consistently shown that a daily dose of a small handful of nuts brings health benefits. Even though 30 gm (roughly 1/4 cup) of unroasted nuts provide 157 to 204 calories and 13 to 22 grams of fat, adding two servings (50 gm) of almonds a day to the diet has no effect on body weight, reported a study in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Nuts

Almonds

Almonds are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, vitamin E (an anti-oxidant) and selenium. Unblanched almonds are high in fiber leading to improved colon function and health. Containing high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds help in reducing cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health.

Walnuts

Walnuts are highly revered for being a great source of omega-3 essential fatty aids. These fatty acids have been shown to yield numerous health benefits: protecting the heart, improving cognitive function, and reducing inflammatory effects of asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Walnuts contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound that provides cancer-fighting and immune system boosting properties.

Cashews

Cashews are rich in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and biotin. Cashews contain the lowest percentage of fats compared to most nuts and provide high levels of oleic acid (about 50% of the total fat in cashews), the same fat found in olive oil.

However, it goes without saying that nuts are calorie-dense and moderation is the key word while chomping them off. FDA has approved the heart health claim for almonds, peanuts, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts as these nuts contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. However that doesn’t mean you should restrict yourself to these 7 nuts only. In addition to nuts, seeds such as flax seeds—teesi, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may offer the same heart health benefits. Again moderation is the key – limit your intake to 1 to 2 oz of unsalted nuts per day.

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Category: Fats & Oil
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