Thursday, February 24, 2011

FUEL Better: Nutty about Nuts!

Exploring the Wonderful World of Nuts…

Nuts are usually minimally processed foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and many other nutrients. They effectively help stabilize blood sugars when eaten with carbohydrates, promote satiety in-between meals, decrease triglycerides, increase HDL, and reduce inflammation. Countless clinical trails suggest that by consistently eating 1oz of nuts daily can improve cardiovascular health.

Everyone knows that almonds are high in Vitamin E and walnuts in Omega 3s, these two nuts have become a staple in the “Healthy” American diet. However, many of us over look all the other tree nuts and their fantastic nutritional offerings.

Brazil Nuts
The most energy dense nut, however, its spectacular nutritional benefits make it worth eating in moderation.

Brazil nuts contain exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100 g nuts provide about 1917 mcg of selenium and 3485% of recommended daily intake making them as highest natural source of this mineral.  Adequate selenium foods in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis and cancers.

In addition to selenium, they contain very good levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. Copper helps prevent anemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis).

They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals; that help to protect against diseases and cancers.

Very rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Eat just a handful of cashew nuts every day to avoid minerals deficiencies.

Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body.

The nuts are also containing good amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions, help prevent age related macular degeneration.

Contain 310 mg of potassium and 61 mg plant sterols per 30 g serving (about 1 ounce); this is significantly more than any other tree nut.

Are the only nuts that provide lutein and zeaxanthin. A recent study showed that consuming pistachios (68 g/d) resulted in a 50 percent increase in serum levels of these antioxidants—an important finding because lutein may be protective against the development of atherosclerosis.

May aid with weight management because they are generally eaten in-shell. Preliminary studies have found that the shell helps provide a visual cue to help reduce calorie consumption by 50 percent, compared to eating shelled pistachios.

Help reduce oxidative stress by over 7%  when a diet contains 20% of energy from pecans.

Have the highest antioxidant capacity of popular tree nuts, with 17940 Trolox Equivalents/100 grams serving, according to the USDA ORAC database.

Hazel Nuts
Have been shown in a clinical study to lower LDL and VLDL, while increasing HDL by 12 percent.

Contain more folate than any other nut, providing 8% of the Daily Value.

Rich source of energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

Just about 25 g per day provides 90% of RDI of omega-3 fatty acids. Research studies have suggested that n-3 fatty acids by their virtue of anti-inflammatory action helps to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers.

They are an excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; contain about 21g per100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

These nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

Go nutty over nuts and add them anywhere…

Enjoy the raw. (1/4 cup or 1 handful at a time).

Add whole nuts to:
Yogurts, cereals, parfaits, salads, dried fruits etc.

Add slivered or broken nuts to:
All of the above, baked goods (muffins, cakes etc.), top of meats, steamed vegetables, grains (rice, barely, quinoa etc.) etc.

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