October 13, 2017 5:04 pm Leave your thoughts
Nuts are little powerhouses of nutrition. Inside each bite-sized package, you’ll find a wealth of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Nuts build bones, protect the heart, boost the immune system and oxygenate the body. They keep our eyes working properly, maintain healthy reproductive function, develop our sense of taste and smell and keep us nicely full up. But how exactly do they do this? And what’s the best nut for the best nutrition?
All the good stuff – and which nuts have it
We’re going to take a look at absolutely everything our various nuts contain (in a handy A-Z format)! We’ll explain why it matters, and note which of our nuts are good providers of each particular nutrient. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course – but it does give a really good idea of just how fabulous nuts are at keeping us healthy.
Antioxidants prevent or slow the oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body. Without antioxidants, DNA is altered, leading to the development of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart disease. Pecans are a good general source of antioxidants, while walnuts are positively bursting with them! Pistachios, meanwhile, contain reasonable levels of the particular antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a role in protecting our eyes.
Calcium builds bones and keeps them healthy. It helps our blood clot, our muscles contract and our nerves send messages.
Starchy carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy, fuelling our brains and muscles. Only one of the nuts we sell features highly in this category: the chestnut, sometimes known as ‘the grain that grows on a tree’.
Fibre is well-known for improving digestive health. It also plays a role in preventing heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Flavonoids protect the heart. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties assist in building a strong cardiovascular system and protect our immune systems.
Looking for flavonoids in a nut? Try almonds.
Folate is well-known as an important element in reproductive health. It’s needed to make DNA and other genetic material and enables cells to divide. It also has a role in keeping an amino acid called homocysteine in check: too much of this amino acid has been found to cause heart problems. In addition, it’s thought to help keep our brains functioning at their very best.
Iron is what our body uses to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around our body.
Linoleic acid is a type of fatty acid (Omega-6) found in plants. It reduces inflammation, aids the transportation of oxygen and generally keeps our hearts healthy.
Looking for linoleic acid in a nut? Try walnuts.
Magnesium regulates our muscle and nerve function, keeps blood sugar levels and blood pressure stable, assists in the manufacture of proteins, bones and DNA, and is particularly good for memory function.
Manganese helps our bodies form connective tissue and bones. It assists in the develop of blood clotting and the production of sex hormones. It also plays a role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates from food and in the absorption of calcium, as well as regulating blood sugar levels. In addition, it’s essential for the normal functioning of our brains and nerves.
Looking for manganese in a nut? Try peanuts.
Monounsaturated fat is ‘good’ fat: it helps lower ‘bad cholesterol’ levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. This type of fat also helps develop and maintain healthy cells within the body. Nuts in general are a fine source of monounsaturated fat – walnuts, in particular, are a good nut to choose if you’re looking to increase levels in your diet.
Oleic acid is an Omega-9 fatty acid. It reduces blood pressure, assists with the burning off of fat and protects cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Looking for oleic acid in a nut? Try pecans.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, but cannot be generated by our bodies themselves – they must be obtained from food. They’re ‘essential’ because they help our bodies fight inflammation, lower our blood pressure, promote proper sleep and soothe our skin.
Looking for Omega-3 in a nut? Try walnuts.
Phosphorus helps filter out the waste in our kidneys. Along with calcium, it keeps our bones strong and healthy, and also plays an essential role in the storage and use of the energy we obtain from food.
Looking for phosphorus in a nut? Try coconut.
Potassium works with sodium to maintain normal blood pressure and the correct balance of fluids in the body.
All nuts are good suppliers of protein, making them ideal for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Protein is what we use in our bodies to build and repair tissue: essentially, we’re made of protein! Protein obtained from food is what we use to make our enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Selenium is needed for proper thyroid function, for maintenance of our immune system and for healing wounds.
Sodium enables our muscles to contract and our nerves to send messages. Vitally, it regulates our fluid balance.
Looking for sodium in a nut? Try coconut.
Also known as thiamine, Vitamin B1 enables our bodies to access the energy stored in carbohydrates. It’s essential for the metabolism of glucose and plays a crucial role in our nerve, muscle and heart function.
Looking for Vitamin B1 in a nut? Try coconut.
Also known as niacin, it’s believed that deficiency in this vitamin leads to birth defects. Like the other B vitamins, niacin helps us access and release the energy stored in the food we eat.
Also known as pantothenic acid, Vitamin B5 alleviates asthma and allergies, reduces stress, boosts heart health and is needed to synthesise and metabolise proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Looking for Vitamin B5 in a nut? Try coconut.
Also known as pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 allows the body to use and store the energy obtained from protein and carbohydrates in food. It also helps us form haemoglobin and regulates hormones, particularly in women.
Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues. It helps the body manufacture collagen, which in its turn, makes skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. Vitamin C repairs our wounds and keeps our bones and teeth healthy.
Vitamin E maintains healthy skin and eyes. It fights infection, strengthening our immune systems.
Vitamin K is needed to regulate blood clotting in the body. It’s necessary for bone health and assists with the transportation of calcium through the body.
Looking for Vitamin K in a nut? Try pine nuts.
Zinc boosts our immune system. It also helps our bodies make protein and DNA (making it vital for reproductive health), helps wounds heal and muscles grow and repair, and gives us our proper sense of taste and smell.
Looking for zinc in a nut? Try cashews.
In a nutshell(!), you simply can’t beat nuts. Each one provides a wealth of nutrition, keeping our bodies as healthy as they possibly can be. For all the nuts that Naturally Good Food offers, click here.
Tags: almonds, Brazil Nuts, cashews, chestnut, coconut, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, nutrition, Nuts, organic nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pinenuts, pistachio, walnuts
This post was written by Yzanne