Nuts: the new superfood

 

Nuts have a bad reputation as an indulgent, calorific snack.  Often strewn across pub bars and covered in an adulterated amount of salt this can be the case; however choosing the right sort of nuts for you can be the first steps to healthy snacking, reduced appetite and other health benefits associated with this age old health food which now has super-food status.

Many nuts are cholesterol free, vitamin packed and energy filled making them the perfect snack food.  With the Government’s focus on healthy eating made clear this year by them backing a new campaign Change 4 Life and a higher focus on sugars and fats in popular foods, finding healthier versions of snack foods and breaking existing myths about foods have never been more important.

Here’s a quick run down on the attributes of the best nuts for different purposes.

Pistachios 

This exotic nut, often food in Indian cuisine- especially in deserts, has a mild aromatic flavor.  the nut is high in mono saturated fats, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.  Potassium is particularly important to regulate bodily fluids while the protein thymine helps regulate appetite. This is great if you’re trying to diet for weight loss.

The average serving size is 18 grams which equates to about 30 nuts. Do not exceed more than 3 servings a week.  Pistachios make a great addition to homemade bread and muffins, sprinkled into natural yogurt or stirred into a homemade vegetable curry.

Cashews

Cashews are often seen as the worst offender when it comes to nuts, but eaten raw and not oil or honey roasted and in moderation, these nuts can help red blood cell production and absorption of essential minerals.

The average serving size is 18 nuts and unless you’re aiming to gain weight. You shouldn’t exceed more than 2 servings a week.

Raw cashews taste great stir fried with bean sprouts and given an East Asian flavor- however avoid creamy takeaway kormas and pasandas which use cashews and almonds as it’s base but are often laden with saturated fats and high in cholesterol due to their cream content.

Almonds

Almonds have been recognized as a health food for many hundreds of years.  Used a lot in Persian cuisine and Indian food, these high calorie nuts have been pressed for oil for cosmetic as well a gourmet use and is associated with brain building an intelligence in many cultures.

Almond milk is a big health food trend at the moment with some versions containing less calories than skimmed milk and these nuts have been proven to reduce the impulse to snack.

Almonds are a great food for 11-25 year olds the average serving is about 25 grams for an adult. Blanched almonds are tasty added to porridge to provide a different texture or added to a granola mix for some extra nuttiness.

Avoid:

Walnuts – although eaten in moderation they can be tasty and good for you only five of these nuts equate to one serving due to their very high fat content.  They can lead to wait gain if eaten too much and should only be eaten to replace other high fat foods in your diet.

Brazil nuts- although a complete protein (like those found in animal meat) these nuts are also quite fatty so should be eaten in moderation

With all nuts, avoid if they’ve been roasted with oil, high sugar contents like honey roasted nuts or covered in salts.  This will reverse any health benefits the nuts naturally have!