Nuts and Their Health Benefits
Rich in healthy fats, nuts are also a great source of fiber and protein.
Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids along with nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin E which are extremely important for strong bones and a healthy heart.
Though high in calories, nuts serve as healthy snacking options because of their numerous health benefits. When eaten as a part of a balanced diet, nuts can even lower blood cholesterol.
Some of the significant health benefits of nuts are as follows:
Improves Heart Health:
Nuts lower blood’s low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This LDL and triglycerides are responsible for the formation of deposits called plaques in the arteries.
The nuts such as walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and Vitamin E. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids that seem to help the heart by, among other things, preventing irregular heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Fiber helps lower cholesterol. It also makes us feel full, so we eat less. In addition, fiber is found to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Reduces free radical damage:
Antioxidants, including the polyphenols in nuts, can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals — unstable molecules that may cause cell damage and increase disease risk.
It is found that antioxidants in walnuts and almonds can protect the delicate fats in the cells from being damaged by oxidation.
Beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome:
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. Therefore, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are strongly linked. Surprisingly, nuts may be one of the best foods for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. As nuts are low in carbs and do not raise blood sugar levels much, substituting nuts for higher-carb foods should lead to reduced blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown that blood sugar, blood pressure, and other health markers improve when people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome include nuts in their diet.
Aids weight loss:
Nuts including Almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss rather than contribute to weight gain in controlled studies.
Below are the benefits of the four impressive nuts and their nutrition profile (for one ounce – 28 grams):
- Might help in the reduction of bad cholesterol (LDL), total cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol.
- Might help in lowering blood pressure in overweight and obese people when consumed as a part of low-calorie diet.
- Might help reduce the release of blood sugar when consumed with a meal.
- Might reduce inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes an also help improve the gut bacteria by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
- 2- 3ounces of Pistachios a day might help increase good Cholesterol (HDL).
- Might help improve other heart disease risk factors including blood pressure, weight and oxidative stress.
- Might help reduce blood sugar after a meal.
- Excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is believed to improve several heart disease risk factors.
- Also, might help increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.
- Might improve metabolic syndrome.
- Might reduce blood pressure.
- Might increase antioxidant potential.
- Might increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood.
- May improve heart disease risk factors.
- May lower asthma and allergic disease rates.
How to eat nuts?
The type of nuts we choose to eat probably doesn’t matter much. Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. We must keep in mind that we could end up cancelling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they are covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.
Nut oils also are a good source of healthy nutrients, but they lack the fiber found in whole nuts. However, walnut oil is the highest in omega-3s. Using nut oils in homemade salad dressing or in cooking is preferable. When cooking with nut oils, remember that they respond differently to heat than do vegetable oils. Nut oils can become bitter if overheated. We must use nut oils in moderation, as they are high in fat and calories. No doubt, nuts play a vital role in our well-being.
Ideally, we should use a handful of nuts or a tablespoon spread as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products. The American Heart Association recommends eating about four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Choose raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than nuts cooked in oil. One serving is a small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products will not do our heart any good. In case of peanut butter, choose the one with the highest peanut content and it is best to choose plain, unsalted, unflavored nuts.
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