Nuts are powerful plant-based nutrition packed with protein, fibre, and healthy fats, all of which help resist pre-meal cravings and keep you satisfied post-meal.
What makes nuts so good for you?
Nuts are heart healthy – an excellent source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats which have been associated with lowering LDL cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar, reducing blood pressure, and slowing the development of plaque in your arteries.
Their anti-inflammatory properties deem them ‘heart healthy.’ In fact, large research studies have found significantly lower amounts of inflammatory biomarkers (measures in the blood) in adults who consume five (or more) servings of nuts each week.
They are rich in fibre – this equates to regular bowel movements and helps keep you feeling full longer (in turn aiding weight management). The majority of Canadians only get 50% of the fibre they need. This applies to fruits and vegetables as well, so you can eat more of those too.
Nuts are rich in antioxidants which align with the prevention of chronic diseases.
As plant-based sources of protein, nuts help keep you satiated post meals, since the fat content slows digestion (¼ cup of almonds provides you with 8 grams of protein).
Nut consumption improves sperm quality – two handfuls of mixed nuts a day (almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts) over 14 weeks establishes more viable swimmers and an improved sperm count (this applies to men with no known fertility concerns).
What is an appropriate serving?
Typically a small handful or ¼ cup. Ideal rations are 5 servings/week.
Are you allergic to nuts?
Don’t sweat it: search for seeds! There are some amazing and healthy alternatives for individuals with nut allergies that have similar benefits to nuts: healthy fats, fibre and protein.
Sunflower, pumpkin, chia, ground flax, hemp and sesame seeds all have excellent sources of protein, fibre, and healthy fats. (¼ cup of sunflower seeds has 7 grams of protein).
Since seeds act a lot like nuts, sunflower seed butter (it’s delicious!) can be used for sandwiches and wraps and seeds themselves can be added to smoothies, salads and yogurt. They can also be roasted (extra nutty!) and added to breads and desserts.
Better health is easy and delicious… so, go nuts!
5 Simple Ways to Eat More Nuts
- Add chopped or slivered nuts to your yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal.
- Top your salads with chopped or slivered nuts for added boosts of protein and fibre.
- Nuts, seeds and nut butters make for great additional healthy treats. Add them to your recipes: cookies, muffins, bars.
- Enhance your favourite smoothie with nuts, seeds or nut butters for healthy fat and a protein boost.
- Spread fresh fruit with nut or seed butter (e.g., coat an apple with almond butter). Blood sugars spike when you eat fruit, but nut fat counters the spike by slowing down digestion, keeping you feeling fuller longer.
Angela Wallace, MSc, RD – Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer & Family Food Expert in Caledon, Ont