Nutritional Introduction To Our Favorite Nuts & Seeds
Eating a well-rounded diet means including a good variety of food options in your daily menu. When many people think of healthy eating, their minds go straight to lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. While those things are part of a balanced diet, they are not the only foods you should be eating to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
Nuts and seeds are a crucial part of any diet because of the wide variety of vitamins and minerals they offer. Although many nuts and seeds can be high in calories or even fat, that doesn’t make them any less important when it comes to a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Is it OK to eat nuts and seeds every day?
Not only is it OK to eat nuts and seeds every day, it is actually recommended! This is because recent research has shown just how healthy nuts and seeds can be. According to an article published in Harvard Health, nuts and seeds consumed daily can lower your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and may even add years to your life. The same article states that people who forgo eating these delicious plant-based foods can actually increase their risk of dying from heart disease or diabetes.
What are the benefits of eating nuts and seeds?
Nuts are packed with essential nutrients. In a one-ounce serving of mixed nuts, you can expect to consume a good portion of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and selenium. While this is based on a selection of mixed nuts and not focused on how different types can benefit in different ways, it’s still pretty impressive that these small but mighty foods can provide all that in just a single ounce.
Nuts, in particular, are loaded with antioxidants that can help keep the body free from oxidative stress, a state that leads to chronic inflammation. Other health benefits of eating nuts and seeds can include:
- Helping with weight loss
- Lowering bad cholesterol levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Keeping the digestive system regular
Each nutrient the body needs has a daily recommended intake value, which essentially means the amount that the body needs each day to ensure it can use the nutrient properly.
Which nuts and seeds should I eat?
The best nuts and seeds that you could eat are typically the ones that you like, but when it comes to nutritional value, some are better than others. Some people have to avoid nuts and seeds due to allergies, but there are some types that even those with allergies can enjoy to reap the nutritional rewards.
Almonds are a type of tree nut that’s full of nutrients. A 28-gram serving contains 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber, 37% of your daily vitamin E intake requirements, and 19% of your daily magnesium requirements. Research has shown that almonds have the ability to lower cholesterol, which can aid in keeping the heart healthy.
Walnuts are another great option because they are versatile and an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – omega-3s are essential to brain health. One serving of walnuts contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 11% of your daily intake requirements of magnesium.
Pine nuts are a great choice for people with a tree nut allergy. Research has shown that they are able to improve and promote heart health, balance blood sugar levels, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keep the brain healthy. This is because pine nuts have good amounts of several nutrients such as omega-3s, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Peanuts belong to the legume family and are arguably the most well-known nuts on this list. They are consumed in various ways and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. One serving of peanuts offers 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 21% of your daily intake requirement of vitamin E, and 11% of your daily intake requirement of magnesium. One particular study on the health benefits of peanuts found that people who ate them regularly had lower death rates.
Brazil nuts offer high levels of the mineral selenium, which acts as an antioxidant within the body. Just one serving of Brazil nuts gives you more than your daily required intake of selenium!
Pecans are often used as a dessert add-on, but they can be eaten on their own as well. These nuts contain protein, vitamin E, fiber, and magnesium, and research has shown that they can lower cholesterol and help ward off oxidative stress because of their antioxidant content.
Cashews are a tree nut that can be made into various things such as butter, milk, or even ice cream. Just one serving of cashews contains 5 grams of protein and 20% of your daily magnesium requirements. Studies have shown that cashews can be especially beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome because of their ability to improve blood pressure and other symptoms of the disorder.
Chia seeds contain omega 3s, fiber, protein, vitamin B1, magnesium, and manganese. They have been associated with lowered inflammation in the body.
Pumpkin seeds are one of those most popular types of seeds, especially during the fall. One serving contains high amounts of protein, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. Pumpkin seeds have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol, reduce the risk of breast cancer, and lower the risk of kidney stones in children.
Linseeds, also known as flaxseeds, pack a powerful punch of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. On top of that, one serving of linseeds can give you 31% of your daily intake requirements of vitamin B1, 28% of your needed magnesium, and 35% of your daily manganese needs. Because of their nutrient value, linseeds have been associated with lowered cholesterol, reduction of blood pressure, and a reduced cancer risk.
Sunflower seeds contain a good amount of nutrients such as protein, monounsaturated fats, and vitamin E. In fact, one serving of sunflower seeds will give you almost 50% of your daily recommended intake value of vitamin E. By eating this type of seed regularly, you can help to reduce inflammation in the body and reduce cholesterol.
Poppy seeds may be small, but they are mighty when it comes to nutrition. These tiny black seeds contain good amounts of vitamin B1, iron, zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, protein, and fiber. Research has also shown that poppy seeds can act as a pain reliever, boost the health of the heart and skin, and enhance fertility in people who are trying to conceive.