Why seeds and nuts are good for us, how to eat them, and 5 of the best for weight loss, heart health, and more, according to an expert

Why seeds and nuts are good for us, how to eat them, and 5 of the best for weight loss, heart health, and more, according to an expert

But not all nuts are true nuts: Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews are the seeds of the fruit.

Cashew nuts on a tree. Although widely thought to be a nut, cashews are the seed of the fruit. Image: Shutterstock
To add to the confusion, Peanuts They are a legume, which means they are more closely related to peas than, for example, to hazelnuts.

Whether it’s seeds, fruits or legumes, all these delicious foods are good for us. Sandra Carvajal, a Hong Kong-based holistic nutritionist, offers several reasons why:

  • Nuts are nutrient-dense foods that help us feel full longer.

  • It is rich in minerals necessary for body functions.

  • They are an excellent source of healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) which makes them beneficial Heart health An aid to lower cholesterol.
  • A handful of nuts or seeds can pack a powerful punch, with high amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, calcium and omega-3 oils.

Sandra Carvajal is a holistic nutritionist based in Hong Kong.

Carvajal says that although nuts and seeds have similar macronutrient content (protein, carbohydrates, fat), they differ in micronutrient content (minerals, vitamins).

Peanuts and almonds are higher in vitamin C and B3, pistachios are rich in vitamin A, and cashews are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin BAlmonds contain vitamin B2.

I love the spinner nuts, as each one has a very special flavour

Sandra Carvajal
Regarding minerals, Carvajal says that almonds, cashews and pine nuts contain a higher percentage of magnesium. Pistachios, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts and peanuts contain a higher percentage of potassium. Shea Flax seeds are higher than other seeds in iron.

That’s why she recommends mixing nuts and seeds in a jar so that each handful provides a host of nutrients and benefits.

While nuts are high in calories, there’s a misconception that they contribute to weight gain, Carvajal says, as long as they’re eaten in the right amounts and in the right way.

Cargaval keeps a jar full of mixed seeds and uses them as a topping for soups, salads, fresh fruit, and more. Image: Shutterstock

In fact, raw nuts, especially peanuts, can contribute to weight loss, Carvajal says, as well as heart health.

Theories about why this is include that they make us feel fuller than other snacks, that when they are not chewed enough — which doesn’t happen often — they pass through the digestive tract without fully absorbing nutrients, and that they are a great source of… FiberIts consumption is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain.

The ideal amount of nuts and/or seeds to eat daily is about 30 grams, which is the amount found in a medium-sized handful.

The ideal amount of nuts and seeds to eat daily is about 30 grams, or a medium handful. Image: Shutterstock

Turning healthy raw nuts into something highly processed is simple: cover them in chocolate, yogurt, salt, or honey.

Carvajal says that the problem with commercially available “fancy nuts” is that what is added to them is often high in content. sugar And/or sodium, both of which can be Harmful to our health.
“What people don’t understand is that processed nuts, like others Ultra-processed foodsIt can make you gain weight and spoil your diet Metabolism Due to the addition of unhealthy fats, sugars, preservatives and artificial flavours.
Processed nuts can contribute to weight gain and wreak havoc on your metabolism due to the unhealthy fats, sugars, preservatives and artificial flavors added to them. Image: Shutterstock

So how should we eat nuts and seeds? The best way is raw, either whole or in nut or seed butter. You can also soak and roast them (without the oil it’s healthier) to enhance their flavour.

Carvajal enjoys her favorite nut, cashews, in another way.

“Cashews make delicious nut milk, and you can use the leftover pulp to make soft cheese.”

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They also love flaxseeds, which are rich in healthy fats and fiber, a great combination for healthy digestion.

Carvajal keeps a jar full of mixed seeds – flax, pumpkin, sunflower, Shea And sesame – it is used as a topping for soups, salads and fresh fruits. They also add it to smoothies, cereal bowls, and yogurt.
“Sometimes, I just eat a handful as a snack. I love the spinner nuts, as each one has a very special flavor – cashews, almonds, macadamia, Walnutspecans, peanuts.
Carvajal says she likes to eat a variety of nuts, as each has its own distinct flavour. Image: Shutterstock

She always has nut butter on-the-go in her fridge. Her latest discovery was pumpkin butter.

Another way to enjoy nuts is with pesto – simply use different vegetables and different nuts, from basil and pine nuts, to change it up.

Five of the healthiest nuts and seeds

Hemp seeds are full of protein and good fats. Image: Shutterstock

1. Hemp seeds

Three tablespoons of hemp seeds yield nine grams of plant-based protein, and more than 25% of total calories come from high-quality protein, which is significantly more than chia and flax seeds.

Hemp seeds also contain 30 percent fat, but it’s the good kind: essential omega-3 and omega-6.

2. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain eight grams of protein per ounce (one ounce equals about 28 grams) and are rich in magnesium and tryptophan, so they may promote better sleep.

Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium and tryptophan, and also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Image: Shutterstock

They also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

One study showed that pumpkin seed oil reduced inflammation in mice with arthritis without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.

3. Peanuts

Peanuts have been found to help lower cholesterol. Image: Shutterstock
According to a 2020 study, peanuts — related to beans and peas — lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood). blood pressure.

They also contain phytosterols, which help prevent cholesterol absorption.

4. Almonds

Almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E and make an excellent gluten-free flour. Image: Shutterstock
Almonds are full of good fats and are the best sources of Vitamin E available, so they are excellent for our body Heart health.
Almonds can also be used to make flour, which is a good alternative to wheat flour Gluten intolerance.

A small handful of almonds contains about 160 calories, about 6 grams of carbohydrates, and about 3.5 grams of fiber.

The powerful antioxidants in almonds are concentrated in their skin, so eat them with the skin, not boiled.

5. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients including zinc, vitamin E and folate. Image: Shutterstock

Sunflower seeds are harvested from the head of the sunflower. One sunflower can produce up to 2,000 seeds.

It’s packed with nutrients including zinc, vitamin E and folate, which is especially important for pregnant mothers because it helps prevent spina bifida and other diseases that develop in unborn babies.

Sunflower seeds contain almost no sodium, unless commercially packaged as a snack, in which case a small amount can provide 70% of your daily sodium allowance.

Always be wary of extra toppings when purchasing nuts and seeds, and remember that they are a perfect and powerful snack in their own right.

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