Why Nutritionists Go Ga Ga Over Nuts

Nuts are essential to our physical and mental growth. Here are certain things you need to know about them.

Charupadma Pati | Nov 01, 2019

Traditionally, nuts have been associated with the harvest season of autumn in India. Today they are available all year long, but there is little surprise that they form an integral part of gifting during Diwali.

But there is more to nuts: in our fast-paced life, we often fail to look after ourselves, leading to health issues that often become serious and chronic. Hence, it becomes important to consume diets so that we have the strength and stamina to keep up with our stressful lives. Consuming certain food items does wonders to our health. Among them, dry fruits and nuts help in imparting all the essential nutrients needed by our body.

Nuts are highly beneficial for the healthy growth of our body and minds well. Endowed with essential nutrients, nuts are a necessity for all of us. There are different types of nuts, each has its own set of benefits from the other.

Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and peanuts are considered to be the best varieties of almonds that are recommended for everyone. They are as much important for us as our regular dishes that we have everyday. Nuts play a vital role in imparting a balanced diet to our body.

Why Nuts?

Nuts are very good sources of micronutrients. They provide fat, fiber, and protein to us. They are also rich in anti-oxidants that play an important role in providing immunity that our body requires to fight against several illnesses. Research suggests that people who eat nuts tend to live longer lives than those who do not. Almonds and walnuts stand out as compared to all the other nuts.

“Nuts are an important component of the globally popular Mediterranean diet, which are linked to lower incidence of coronary heart diseases, diabetes, strokes, overweight, obesity, and high blood pressure,” says Dr Parmeet Kaur, chief dietician at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

Almonds and walnuts are considered to be the most popular among the nuts. They are recommended by majority of nutritionists and dieticians as they provide several benefits to us. We often see people carrying almonds with them to their workplace, while travelling, and even have them in their free time.

Almonds are good to taste, as well as act as substitutes for the people who avoid dairy products for a long period of time. Almonds play a huge role in slowing down the ageing process in our body. As discussed earlier, anti-oxidants play a vital role in strengthening our immunity system and lower the risk of us contracting heart diseases and certain types of cancers, and almonds have loads of them. Some people prefer taking almonds with their skins peeled off, while this is not a right choice made by them in the health perspective. It is because the brown skin of an almond is rich in antioxidants. Peeling off the skin drains away all the anti-oxidants.

Walnuts are also one of the most popular nuts that are consumed by people all around the world. They are low in carbohydrates and are rich in Omega-3, that help in controlling inflammation in our body, which is the sole cause of major health issues, such as type-2 diabetes.

Type-2 diabetes is a common occurrence that affects millions of people around the world. But for the people who consume nuts are said to be safe from it. Low content of carbs in them and also do not contribute to much of weight-gain to the people who consume nuts.

Nuts are vital in reducing the risk of high-level cholesterol. Nuts such as pistachios and almonds possess properties that can help lowering the risk of high level of cholesterol. Presence of mono-saturated and poly-saturated fatty acids contribute to the lowered risk in people who consume them.

“A handful of nuts provides between 128 to 204 calories to the human body. Therefore it is a necessity to balance the calories by having other food items so that the heavy amount of calories that we consume could be balanced,” says Dr Kaur.

Indigestion issues can also be cured by eating nuts. Rich in fibre, nuts enable digestion. Bacteria dwell in our colon, due to which the food particles are not absorbed properly, leading to severe indigestion problems. Consuming nuts helps in digestion, as the fibre content in them helps in breaking down the food particles and thus they are properly absorbed in the body.

All nuts are not healthy

There is always a flip side to everything. While sometimes consuming nuts can prove to be beneficial for us, there are certain nuts that are not really advisable for us. Consuming those nuts will only do more harm than good. Certain types of nuts such as macadamia contain high calories that could cause a person to be overweight and obese.

Certain types of nuts, such as cashew nuts are not really advisable as they have a high amount of carbohydrates in them. Although they are appealing because of their taste, nutrition experts do not really recommend consuming cashew nuts as much as almonds and walnuts. They are loaded with fats and do not have fibre at all.

“Nuts are good as long as they have fibres and they have a balance of nutrients,” says Dr Anuja Agarwala, Dietician at AIIMS, department of paediatrics.

Almonds and walnuts are expensive in general. Not everyone can afford to buy these nuts and consume them. Therefore in this case peanuts becomes the best alternative.

“For those who cannot afford expensive nuts like almonds and walnuts must go for peanuts. Peanuts are as good as the other nuts as they also have proteins, fibre and carbohydrates, therefore provide all the essential nutrients required by our body,” says Dr Agarwala.

One cup-serving size of macadamia equals to about 1000 calories. Consuming it in excess could easily impart calories that are unnecessary for a human body. Excessive calories could lead to fat formation in our bodies.

Pine nuts taste bitter and are said to cause an effect that leaves a bitter effect on the taste buds for a long time. It so happens that after eating pine nuts, a person experiences bitterness in every food he or she eats. This is also referred to as ‘pine nuts syndrome’, which occurs somewhere between 12 to 48 hours after consuming the nuts. Everything they consume tastes rancid and bitter. This effect subsides after a couple of weeks, and in rare cases, it takes about a month to subside.

How much should you eat?

As we know that excess of anything can prove to be harmful for all of us. Taking a handful of nuts is always recommended as our body receive the required nutrients. But we have to have a correct sense of decision as to which nuts are beneficial for us and which ones are not.

Sometimes children do not take meals as per the requirement of their bodies. Therefore powdered peanuts are fed to them by mixing them in porridges and dals. It is necessary to understand that a person should be aware of the correct amount of nuts that should be consumed. Anything excess can always prove to have undesired harmful effects. The choice is yours!