Nuts.

It wasn’t very long ago that nuts were feared. – They were considered a dieting disaster, with far too high a fat and calorie content to be anything but bad for you! Recently though, extensive studies have shown that the opposite is actually the case. – Nuts are incredible for the human body. Recently there have been many health discoveries showing that nuts are a wonderful protein source that are great for everyone, and should be added to our diets.

Yes – nuts contain a lot of fat, and they are relatively loaded with calories considering that they are a plant food. Our understanding of fat has changed, however, and we now know that most of the fat in nuts is polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. These fats aren’t nearly as bad for you as others, aren’t as prone to causing weight gain, and most important of all, actually have the ability to lower your LDL cholesterol
levels. In fact, nuts have actually been shown to be extremely good for your heart – modern studies have concluded that a proper daily amount of nuts can lower your chance for developing heart disease by as much as 35%. – Astounding news for a food that was once feared for it’s possible weight gain and destructive cardiovascular effects.

Nuts are an incredible source of protein. – Protein is very important for our bodies, but unfortunately in a lot of places that it’s commonly found (Such as red meats), getting our recommended protein amounts can have negative side effects on our hearts. This makes nuts wonderful, because you can get a lot of protein from them without worrying about hurting your precious heart. They are especially great for vegans.

Nuts are terrific sources of energy. Protein is an important ingredient for energy, and when combined with the other minerals in nuts make them perfect for providing longer, more constant energy levels. In addition to proteins, nuts also happen to rich in the powerful antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. Anti-oxidants have recently been identified as having powerful anti-aging effects on the body due to their ability to block the damage caused by free-radicals, substances that contribute to early aging.

On studies involving nuts in daily diet, results showed that nearly all forms of nuts had similar effects, though the most beneficial nuts today are generally considered to be peanuts, almonds, and cashews. These studies also suggest that a good daily dosage of nuts be between 1 to 2 ounces to see receive the best benefit. While they are very healthy, nuts can be a rather addicting snack, and combined with their elevated levels of calories can cause weight gain if you don’t exercise a little discipline with your snacking. Fortunately, nuts also satisfy hunger very well.

Overall, nuts are a powerful food that is packed with surprising and astounding benefits. Their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease while protecting against aging and providing solid energy levels makes them a highly desired health food, as long as a person keeps their intake levels low. They are still loaded with calories, and can contribute to weight gain if high levels are consumed on a regular basis. If you keep your intake down, however, you’ll notice remarkable improvements in your health, and you can rest easier at night knowing that you are helping your heart and bettering your chances at escaping cardiovascular disease.

Stress Reduction :

The nutrients in several types of nuts helps protect your body against the damaging physical effects of being stressed out. One study looked at nuts rich in alpha-linolenic acid, like walnuts, and found that they had a heart-protective benefit during times of acute stress – which are known to cause cardiovascular strain. Almonds, thanks to high vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium content can bolster your immune system when you’re stressed.

Heart Health :

Nuts, like almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews all play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. That’s because nuts help reduce LDL cholesterol, and incorporate a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, which has a heart-protective effect. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide in the body and helps blood vessels to relax.

Lung Cancer :

A diet rich in pistachios may provide some protection from lung cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference. The researchers theorize that the nut’s richness in gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E, may be the key to cancer protection, although further research is required.

Weight Maintenance :

The 2013 review of nut health benefits found a modest improvement in overall weight –  several studies have found that nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. That’s because nuts are satisfying – a “high satiety” food  that is metabolized slowly by the body, thanks to high fiber counts. In other words? Snackers are more satisfied after eating nuts than after eating foods of comparable caloric value, but less nutrient density.

Cholesterol :

A walnut a day may keep bad cholesterol away, according to a 2010 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found a 7.4 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL. What’s more, triglyceride concentrations declined by more than 10 percent.

Prostate Cancer :

Brazil nuts, which are high in the mineral selenium, may provide some protection against advanced prostate cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research. The research was conducted on a Dutch cohort study and found that men with high levels of selenium, tested from toe nails, were 60 percent less likely develop advanced prostate cancer within 17 years.

Brain Health :

Thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin E that nuts can deliver, they are considered a brain food – helping to prevent cognitive decline that happens with age. Peanuts (even though they are legumes, we commonly group them with nuts), in particular, may be a good choice because they are high in the B-vitamin folate, which improves neural health, reducing risk of cognitive decline. Beyond protecting against age-associated problems, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that walnuts improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function.

Men’s Reproductive Health :

For men looking to start a family, walnuts may have an effect on sperm quality – Eating about two handfuls of nuts, one UCLA study found, could improve the quality of sperm, in terms of its “vitality, motility, and morphology. What’s more, pistachios may play a role in reducing erectile dysfunction, according to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

So if you do not have an allergy to nuts – please do indulge – they are all good for you. Chop them up – sprinkle over salads and other meals, bake breads, whip up delicious nut butters, creams, milk, cheeses yoghurt’s, dips, sauces and dressings or simply munch as is!

Almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.

Please do tell us in the comments – what your favourite way to eat nuts is!

~ Active Vegan ~

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