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Eight Reasons to Go Nuts, and Eight Ways to Do That

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Out of fashion for a while because they are high in both kilojoules and fat, nuts are back! More recent research has shown that although a high saturated and trans fat diet is still considered a risk for cardiovascular disease, healthy fats are extremely important.

Polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega three fats have many roles to play in the body, including being a big part of brain cell walls and decreasing inflammation throughout the body. So, to tar all fats with the same brush is to miss out on some vital nutrients.

1. Nuts have lots of healthy fats:

Nuts and seeds contain a mixture of the healthy fats as well as some saturated fat. That is typical for almost any food, although the proportions of fats varies from food to food.

2. Nuts also contain valuable amounts of fibre, protein and various vitamins.

Adding nuts to vegetarian dishes is a good way to increase the protein content. Some vitamins and minerals which are commonly low in a typical Western diet are found in nuts, such as selenium in brazil nuts and more generally nuts contain vitamins E, B6, niacin and folate; and provide minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorus and potassium.

3. Effect on Cholesterol

Nuts can help to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

4. Heart Arryhthmia

Some nuts contain high amounts of omega three fats and these seem to prevent irregular heart rhythms.

5. Relaxation of Blood Vessels

Nuts are rich in an amino acid called arginine which is required to form nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels' walls to relax, which makes blood flow more easily through the blood vessels.

6. Reduce blood clotting

Omega three fats in nuts act in a similar way to aspirin to reduce the chance of blood clots.

7. Help blood sugar control.

Nuts raise the level of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 which helps to control glucose and decrease insulin levels in people who are pre-diabetic (their decreased ability to control blood sugar is moving towards a diabetic state).

8. Can aid in weight control.

Because nuts are quite filling and their fibre, fat and protein combination keeps you feeling full longer, they can be helpful in controlling appetite for energy dense junk food.

How can I go nuts?

The best way to eat nuts is in a raw, unprocessed form. Choose nuts with skins on rather than blanched Choose unsalted nuts without added sugary coatings.

1. As a snack.

A small serving of nuts (10-12 almonds for example) makes a great fill-a-gap snack. Beware too much trail mix though - dried fruits are concentrated sugar and kilojoules and things like added chocolate drops don’t help!

2. In a salad or side dish

Jazz up a salad, vegetable or grain with some nuts – so many recipes include some nuts for crunch and taste.

3. In a sauce

Pesto is the obvious example here, but Romesco sauce with fish or satay sauce are nut based too.

4. As the main event.

With a good amount of protein, nut ‘meat’ balls and nut loaves make a tasty vegetarian main course.

5. Nut butters

An easy way to reduce saturated fat is to spread your bread with a nut butter instead. As well as good old peanut butter try almond, macadamia or cashew butter. Look for brands with no added sugar or salt, or make your own.

6. In your breakfast.

The addition of nuts to porridge, oats, muesli, fruit salad or yoghurt adds protein, fibre and healthy fats to the most important meal of the day. They will keep you full all morning too.

7. Lunch Box Additions

Throw a handful of nuts into your lunch box (or your children’s if school rules allow nuts) for a healthy filler.

8. In Cakes and Biscuits

Using almond, pecan, hazelnut or macadamia meal instead of flour in baked goods makes them gluten free for coeliacs and adds more nutrients than a refined flour would. (I suggest using specific recipes rather than making straight substitutions as quantities vary).

Are you ready to go nuts?

I found this great infographic on

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