Over the years nuts and seeds have become less and less a part of our normal diet. Whether this is due to convenience foods taking over or takeaways becoming the easiest option, or perhaps because of the bad reputation that nuts and seeds have for containing fat, I don’t know. I feel that it’s a concern, considering that although nuts do contain fat, it is healthy fat, a healthier fat than fats found in meats. Plus in convenience terms how difficult is it really to grab a handful of nuts on the run.
What are nuts?
Nuts are hard-shelled fruits of plants that are rich in protein, vitamins and fat.
What are seeds?
Seeds are a small plant inside a seed coat rich in protein, vitamin B, minerals, fat and dietary fibres.
Both nuts and seeds are considered a healthy, filling snack because there are far more nutritious than other popular snack foods, such as crisps or chocolate; as long as you eat them in moderation.
What is considered a nut and what is considered a seed?
Here is a list of nuts and seeds to help get you started:
*Not a complete list
What are the nutritional benefits of eating nuts and seeds?
Not only are nuts and seeds a good source of energy, but they are loaded with myriad antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Selenium and Manganese which help us fight free radicals that damage the body. They are both high in mono and polyunsaturated fats which is good for a healthy heart and for lowering cholesterol.
On top of this some have high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits, including aiding cells and the central nervous system.
Not only that, but both nuts and seeds help to stabilise blood sugar levels reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Eating a handful of nuts 3 or 4 times a week can significantly reduce the chances of cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms.
Did you know?
Seeds actually produce more fibre per ounce that nuts.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains almost twice as much iron as 3 ounces of skinless chicken breast.
Examples of the nutritional benefits of seeds and nuts.
Brazil nuts for example have the highest level of Selenium of any other food source with sunflower seeds being the richest source of Vitamin E. Cashews contain more iron than any other nut and pistachios are the best source of lutein, a phytochemical important for eye health.
What is the most nutritional way to eat nuts and seeds?
The best way to eat both nuts and seeds is to eat them raw of course!
Check out http://www.realfoods.co.uk/shop/raw-foods/raw-savouries/raw-nuts-and-seeds for a variety of raw nuts and seeds.
Any food that has been processed or altered from their original state is going to affect the delicate balance of nutrition.
Any nuts that have been salted are going to be bad for the heart.
Any roasted nuts are usually done so in unhealthy saturated fatty oil making them more calorific and more likely to increase problems with the heart.
Any sugar coated nuts are obviously going to be higher in calories.
One of the benefits from eating raw almonds for example is that they are digested slower than roasted almonds, giving the feeling of fullness for longer, so you are less likely to snack on more food.
Seeds are in effect a living thing; if you plant and fertilize a seed the plant will grow from that seed. If you roast, boil or heat a seed you are technically killing the seed and all the goodness that comes with it.
Therefore seeds should only be eaten raw in order for you to gain the nutritional benefits of eating them.
Is there a danger to eating raw nuts?
Raw nuts may carry illness causing bacteria, such as salmonella. However, treating them with steam or dry heat reduces the risk for contamination significantly.
You can see how much good eating a handful of nuts or seeds or indeed a mixture of both, is for your body; whether it is benefiting your heart or helping to reduce the damage free radicals have done to your cells.
Watch this space for the next couple of weeks when I talk about how to embed nuts and seeds into your daily meals.Google+