NUTS, SEEDS AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Higher Nut intake has been associated with Lower Body Weight.
Research shows that making nuts a regular part of a healthy diet helps to regulate your weight, and can protect against chronic diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes). Although there has been limited research on seeds, they are thought to have similar health benefits to nuts due to their nutrient content which is comparable to nuts. Although nuts and seeds are high in energy and fats, eating nuts is not connected with weight gain. In fact, based on large population studies, higher nut intake has been associated with lower body weight.
When included as part of a weight-loss diet, nuts have been shown to enhance weight loss and fat loss in the abdominal region. Lower fat in the abdominal region means a lower risk for chronic diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes). Therefore, nuts should be part of a healthy diet.
Nuts help with weight management through:
Lower than expected fat absorption – fats in nuts are not fully digested and absorbed by the body. When less fats are absorbed it means that less energy from nuts is absorbed too.
Hunger and fullness – nuts help to suppress our hunger. As a result, food intake is reduced to compensate for the energy from nuts. This effect is due to the protein, fat, and fiber content of nuts.
Nuts, Seeds, and Heart Disease
· Including nuts and seeds as part of your diet has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
· Although high in fats, nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), and are low in (unhealthy) saturated fats.
· This combination of ‘good fats’, makes nuts heart-healthy – they help to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) in the body.
· LDL cholesterol can add to the build-up of plaque (fatty deposits) in your arteries, which can increase your risk of coronary heart disease.
· Nuts and seeds also help to maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure (partly through their arginine content) and reduce inflammation in the body as they are high in antioxidants.
Include Nuts in your Diet
Different types of nuts have slight differences in their vitamin and mineral content, so eating a variety of nuts will increase your levels of various nutrients.
Given that nuts and seeds have comparable nutrient composition and health benefits, consider seeds as a nut replacement in case of nut allergy (see information below).
Tips on how to make nuts and seeds a part of your diet include:
Instead of snacking on a biscuit or piece of cake as a snack, have a handful of raw or dry roasted nuts.
Combine nuts and seeds with low-energy-dense foods (such as vegetables). This is a good way to enhance vegetable-based meals – such as in Asian-style dishes, or added to a salad.
For vegetarians, nuts and seeds are a good protein substitute for meats, fish, and eggs. They also contain fat, iron, zinc, and niacin. You may need more than 30 grams of nuts and seeds a day to ensure adequate protein.
There is no need to soak or remove the skin of nuts (or ‘activate’ them) unless you prefer the flavor and texture of soaked nuts. In fact, the skin of nuts is high in phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Roasting nuts (either dry or in oil) enhances their flavor but has little impact on their fat content. This is because nuts are physically dense and cannot absorb much oil, even if they are submerged in it. Most nuts only absorb 2% of extra fats.
Salted nuts are not recommended due to their higher sodium content – especially if you have high blood pressure.
Save salted nuts for parties and make raw and unsalted roasted nuts your everyday choice.
If you cannot tolerate the hard texture of nuts and seeds, consider eating them in unsweetened and unsalted paste forms such as nut butter and tahini (sesame paste).
Nuts can be a choking hazard.
Nuts can trigger allergic reactions.
All tree nuts, peanuts, and seeds may trigger life-threatening allergic reactions in those with nut allergies.
Unlike many other allergies where children seem to ‘grow out of it’, peanut allergies tend to persist into adulthood.
There is no cure for allergies, so if you or your child have a nut or seed allergy, avoid nuts, seeds, and foods containing them until you have seen a doctor who specializes in food allergies. They will conduct medically supervised food tests to find out which nuts or seeds you may be allergic to.
Nuts and seeds should be introduced to infants and young children in the form of butter or pastes, to prevent choking. Do not give whole nuts to your child until they are 3 years old.