Many people associate nuts with Christmas. I know that when I was growing up Christmas was the only time we had nuts in the house, there would always be the compulsory bowl taking pride of place in the center of the table. There would be Brazil nuts – Mum’s favourite – hazel nuts, almonds, walnuts and macadamias and resting on top of the bowl would be the most inefficient nutcracker known to man.
Mainly it was Dad’s job to crack open the nuts as he was the only one with enough strength to crack open the hard outer shell….I have since learned that the main reason the nuts were so difficult to break is that they were far from fresh and over time nutshells harden.
I couldn’t believe it when I found that I could easily break off the shells of almonds I buy here in Greece, with just my fingers and I was told it’s because they are so fresh. I wouldn’t dream of buying ‘fresh’ nuts in the shops during the summer as they are out of season and hard, so I make do with prepacked ones.
Why Many People Avoid Eating Nuts…
For years I avoided eating nuts regularly as I was convinced that I would rapidly gain weight if I indulged too often, so I am sure that weight gain is probably the number one reason why most people avoid eating them regularly. But they couldn’t be more wrong!
Of course if we overindulge in anything we will gain weight, that applies to any food whether it’s healthy or not so healthy. And it is true that nuts are high in calories, but the benefits of eating nuts regularly far outweigh the risk of putting on weight. In fact eating nuts regularly can actually help a person to maintain a healthy weight, just as long as they don’t eat too many.
Three Good Reasons For Eating Nuts More Regularly…
- Nuts are packed with protein which helps to support muscle growth in our body. Grabbing a few nuts after a workout will supply your body with what it needs to build muscle, we aren’t talking bulging biceps here, any form of exercise helps to promote muscle growth. The higher our muscle mass is, the higher our metabolism is, which is a good thing as a high metabolism burns more calories when resting than a low metabolism.
- The fiber and protein in nuts also helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer, which helps to prevent us from reaching for that next snack. Which in turn can help us to maintain a healthy body weight and even to lose weight. Nibbling on a few nuts when you feel the munchies coming on, will leave you feeling more satisfied than reaching for a bar of chocolate or half a packet of biscuits – let’s be honest here, how many people only ever have two biscuits?
- Nuts are so nutritious too, although not all contain the same nutrients, which is why it’s a good idea to include a variety of different nuts in your daily diet. Almonds eaten with the skin left on are high in calcium and can lower the risk of getting heart disease. Walnuts help to lower bad cholesterol and are high in Omega 3, which can help to maintain a healthy heart and memory function. Brazil nuts are excellent for boosting our immune system.
So there is no good reason not to be eating more nuts!
What About The Calorie Content In Nuts?…
Yes, nuts do have a have a high calorie content as they are high in natural oils, but there is no need to worry as nut oils are good oils and will give our health a boost.
Nuts also give our skin, nails and hair a boost too, as the nutrients and oils in them leave them looking healthy and strong.
Which Nuts Should We Aim To Include in Our Diets?…
All nuts are good for us, but some are better than others. Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and peanuts are good to eat regularly, but any nuts are good rather than not eating any at all.
How Many Nuts Should We Eat?…
Nuts are high in calories, so portions should be kept small. Brazil, cashew and macadamia nuts are probably the nuts to watch when it come to calorie content as they are the most calorific. I eat about a palm full of nuts a day and sometimes more, especially in the winter when fresh almonds, walnuts and pistachios are in abundance and I can’t help myself.
I may eat a couple of Brazil nuts, along with a few cashew, almonds and peanuts as a snack, especially after working out. I regularly eat natural yogurt with a few walnuts and pumpkin or sunflower seeds, honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon as breakfast too. There is rarely a day when I don’t have nuts of some sort.
What Nuts Are Best?…
Raw nuts are preferable to dry roasted and salted. Eating the outer skin of a nut is also beneficial to our health, so buy raw almonds with the skin on rather than white, blanched almonds.
Avoid eating too many that have a crispy, spicy coating or chocolate coated ones – although I am rather partial to chocolate coated peanuts every now and again….Everything in moderation, that’s what I say!
Do you eat nuts as part of a healthy balanced diet? Or do you just eat them at Christmas? What are your favourite nuts?
Copyright © 2014 Debbie Roberts
© 2014, Debbie. All rights reserved.