Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamias – whichever is your favourite, nuts are a nutritious and delicious part of any well-balanced diet.
A study by the University of Otago found that nuts were a “natural powerhouse of different vitamins and minerals” and that eating nuts regularly can protect against cardiovascular disease, promote healthy weight loss, and even reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Some are even considered healthy substitutes for meat.
Nuts are also the perfect guilt-free snack containing less than 5.5g of saturated fat per 30g, and at a cost of a $1 they are also budget-friendly.
So how much of the delicious morsels should we be consuming daily?
The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation recommends a handful of nuts a day, around 30g, which equate to around 20 almonds or 15 cashews. Try making these Vanilla and Maple Syrup Almonds and Pepitas.
You could try including them in your weekly meals, throw a handful of cashews or peanuts into your stir fry or curry, sprinkle crushed walnuts over yoghurt with honey at breakfast, or add some crunch to your lunchtime salads with hazelnuts with this Polenta, Tomato & Hazelnut Salad.
“Nuts are a nutritionally dense food and mixing up the types you eat will provide you with different health benefits. The great thing about nuts is you only need to eat a handful to get a wide range of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals,” says Sue Pollard, CEO of the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation.
“With such a large selection of nuts available, there is type of nut available for everyone. Nuts are the ultimate fast food; tasty, convenient and affordable,” she adds.
Facts about nuts:
– Peanuts aren’t actually a nut, they are classed as a legume which is part of the bean family but have very similar nutrient values to nuts.
– Brazil nuts are rich in oil and the majority of Brazil nuts exported through the world actually come from Bolivia.
– Nuts are full of good fats that help your hair and nails to grow healthy and strong!
– To obtain the most nutrients from them it is best to eat nuts raw with the skin still on.
– Nuts contain no dietary cholesterol.
– Nuts are good sources of protein and dietary fibre.
– Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E and studies show vitamin E found in foods, not supplements is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
– Nuts are rich in a wide range of essential micronutrients such as folate, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium which perform a vital role in maintaining overall good health.
– Two Brazil nuts provide the daily selenium requirement. Eating two Brazil nuts a day could be an effective way to improve the selenium status of New Zealanders.
– Each 30g serving of nuts provides up to approximately 9% recommended daily intake of folate, 1 to 8% of calcium, 9 to 35% of magnesium, 18% to 58% of copper and 3 to 12% of potassium.
– Nuts are important sources of an array of phytochemicals (plant-derived chemicals) which elicit cardio protective effect through several bioactivities such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties.