Healthy Nuts: Protein And Other Benefits You Probably Didn’t Know About!

Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats the body needs.  Many people don’t realize how popular nuts really are.  Not only are they delicious, they can pretty much be incorporated into any meal plan to help you lose or maintain a healthy weight.  They work well with both the keto, paleo and even vegan diets.

The number of health benefits are quite impressive because they are enriched with many nutrients, such as protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Let’s begin by taking a look at what exactly is a nut and the top 5 health benefits of incorporating them into your diet.

Credit : shutterstock.com

Credit : shutterstock.com

What Exactly Is A Nut?

Believe it or not, a nut is actually a fruit!  Encased in a hard or tough shell around and an edible kernel, this little gem can help improve your health and provide you with a powerful punch of antioxidants and energy.

  Now, in order to release this superfood from its outer protective layer, you have to crack open the shell. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it?  Luckily, many of these nuts can be found in your local grocery store already cracked, peeled and packaged nicely for your enjoyment.

The most commonly found nuts are almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts. Peanuts are members of the legume family which includes beans, peas. They are packed with protein and can be classified as a vegetable.

1.Packed With Many Nutrients

When you eat them in the right portion size, they are highly nutritious. They are made up of mostly unsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels. Consuming one ounce of mixed nuts (about a handful) contains 173 calories, 5 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

You will also fuel your body with 12% vitamin E, 16 % magnesium, 13% phosphorus, 23% copper, 26% Manganese and 56% Selenium. This amount of nut consumption is referred to as your reference daily intake (RDI).

Most nuts also contain a large amount of fiber. For example, the Brazil nut provides more than 100% of your reference daily intake for selenium.

Selenium protects the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection. Carbs are another important component of nuts and some contain very high amounts.

On the lower end, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are less than 2 grams of carbs per serving and on the higher end are cashews containing more than 8 grams of carbs per serving.  So, if you’re worried about the amount of carbs you take in during the day, nuts are a good choice.

2.Loaded With Antioxidants

Nuts provide a wide range of antioxidants that fight the free radicals targeting your body’s cells causing substantial health problems. If you’re looking to obtain this health benefit than walnuts are going to be the top nut to eat. According to new research, walnuts have twice as many antioxidants than any other nut.

The amount is actually higher than what you would find in fish. During a study consisting of 13 people who ate large amounts of walnuts and almonds showed increased levels of antioxidants and lower amounts of oxidative damage.

The next nut rich in antioxidants are pecans. Pecans can help reduce the risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.  A recent study found after consuming pecans on a daily bases, participants experienced a 33% drop in oxidized levels, or in other words bad cholesterol.

Higher than normal oxidized levels in the body contributes to the onset of cardiovascular and heart disease. However, this was mostly discovered in people who were younger rather than in participants who were much older.

3.Promotes Healthy Weight Loss

For years, many dieters have turned a blind eye to nuts because of their high calorie and fat content.  This is true, to an extent. Nuts are full of unsaturated fat instead of the bad saturated fat that we tend to avoid. Unsaturated fat found in nuts are good for your heart. It also helps to have good portion control during meal times.

As mentioned previously, some nuts have a rich boast of omega 3 fatty acids and are full of protein and fiber. So, if you’re looking to maintain or lose weight, reach for a handful of almonds.

Why do you ask? Research has shown that people (mostly women) who incorporated almonds into their diet over a period of time have lost three times as much weight than those who didn’t consume almonds. The results also demonstrated a dramatic decrease in their waist size.

In addition to having good fats is making sure a portion of what you’re consuming contains protein. Protein helps stabilize hormone levels, helps tissue growth and fuels us with energy. 

However, research does show that we do not absorb all of the energy provided to us from these little tasty treats. A small portion of the fat stays inside the nut’s fibrous wall during the digestion stage.

Out of 160-170 calories found in a handful of almonds, only 129 total calories are absorbed by the body.

4.Lowers Cholesterol and Triglycerides Levels

Just by eating a small bag of nuts every day, you can lower cholesterol levels (LDL lipoprotein) and triglycerides. Both cholesterol and triglycerides, when not managed properly,

are the leading causes of heart disease.  Having bad cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and increase your risk of having a stroke.Your small bag of nuts should have a good variety of almonds, pistachios,

hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and macadamia nuts.  All of these nuts combined creates an unstoppable fighting force, whose main focus is to lower bad cholesterol and raise the good.

A study that consisted of only women found that eating a one-ounce (30 grams) bag of these particularly mixed nuts every day for 6 weeks, lowered their cholesterol significantly.

5-Targets Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Consuming nuts has a substantial impact on people who suffer from diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Eating just a handful of nuts four times a week can lower oxidative stress in the body and improve blood glucose levels. 

Having healthy glucose levels lowers you’re chances of developing diabetes and can help manage existing diabetes. Thus, pistachios are a great nut to have. 

After conducting a 12-week study on people with metabolic syndrome who ate 25 grams of pistachios twice a day showed a 9% decrease in their blood sugar levels.

Conclusion

Nuts are packed with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and fats. They have many health benefits that can put you on the path of establishing a healthy eating lifestyle.

Maintaining proper nutrients with a reasonable caloric intake can reduce your risk of having health problems.  Remember, moderation is key when consuming these amazing fruits.  Too much of anything is never good for you. So keep it simple and clean!