9 reasons why nuts are healthy
Nuts are dry fruits and are considered part of the fruit group in many countries. In the Netherlands, however, they get their own full place in the food triangle. The reason is that they have all kinds of specific health benefits. Nuts not only contain healthy macronutrients such as proteins and fats, but also numerous vitamins and minerals that contribute to a healthy body. A handful of nuts a day gives you stable energy and protects you against all kinds of diseases and ailments in the long term. Curious about the 9 health benefits? Then read on quickly!
1. Protection against cardiovascular disease
The fact that nuts are healthy has a lot to do with the good fats. Depending on the variety, they contain 45 to 70% fat. And because these are almost exclusively healthy unsaturated fatty acids, they have a good influence on the health of your blood vessels. Both nuts and seeds are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The intake of a daily portion is associated with about a 30% lower risk of these conditions.
2. Rich in Protein
Nuts contain quite a lot of protein, on average about 8-21 grams per 100 grams. Pistachio nuts even contain 26 grams of protein per 100 grams. That is more than meat, although you eat a little less of it in absolute quantity. A handful a day certainly contributes to your daily protein intake. This is especially useful if you are a vegetarian.
3. Lower the “bad” cholesterol
The story of cholesterol is complex, but overall, getting your LDL cholesterol down is a good thing. And nuts are ideal for that. This is partly due to the unsaturated fatty acids. But there are also other substances present with a positive effect on cholesterol. For example, walnuts contain polyphenolic compounds and a phytochemical with an anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Micronutrients and Antioxidants
It’s not just the macros such as fats and proteins that make nuts healthy. Remember that nuts are fruits just like fruits, which are also known for the micronutrients: the vitamins and minerals.
Almonds, for example, are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant. It has a protective effect on cells, blood vessels, organs and eyes. Eating almonds has a positive effect on your resistance and the production of red blood cells. Pistachios contain the highest amount of antioxidants and one of the lowest amounts of calories.
5. A Healthy Pregnancy
Hazelnuts in particular are rich in vitamin B11 (folic acid). This vitamin is very important during pregnancy. It supports the development of the unborn child and reduces the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida, cleft lip and cleft palate.
6. Less chance of high blood pressure
The overall effect of healthy fats on the blood vessels is of course already very conducive to normal blood pressure. But nuts also contain the amino acid arginine. This amino acid ensures that blood vessels can widen so that your blood pressure can remain well regulated. And wide blood vessels also provide a better supply of oxygen, giving you more energy.
7. Lose Weight With Nuts
The fact that nuts are healthy is a good reason to eat a lot of them, but aren’t they very high in calories? That’s right. But thinking in calories doesn’t cover it all. Eating nuts is not associated with higher weight. That is because they are very satiating, due to the proteins, fats and fiber.
So you will not easily overeat. Of course you should not go all-in with nut butter, that can of course go wrong. But a handful a day gives you stable energy and a feeling of satiety, which actually helps you lose weight.
8. Thyroid Support
Talk about energy. Some varieties contain a lot of selenium, especially Brazil nuts are known for this. With 1 to 2 Brazil nuts per day you have all your RDA of selenium. This mineral is very important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, our energy regulator. Selenium also protects red blood cells and cells against all kinds of damage.
9. Promotes Brain Function
If you have ever looked closely at a walnut, you will see that it looks exactly like a brain, coincidence? Many nuts contain all kinds of B vitamins and vitamin E, which have a good effect on the brain. And of course the unsaturated fatty acids also contribute to good brain function. That is why nuts are made into “student oats”.
How many nuts per day?
We can confidently conclude that nuts are healthy and that you should eat them every day. But because they contain a lot of calories and also some anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, it is best not to eat them indefinitely. A small handful a day is ideal. That corresponds approximately to 15-25 grams of nuts per day.
You can eat them as a snack, in the form of nut butter, or as a topping on a salad. Ideally, you opt for a nut mix or simply change it up often. Salted or roasted is possible now and then, but choose unsalted roasted nuts as standard.