Nuts and seeds are delicious, filling, portable and highly nutritious. What more could you ask for out of food? The health benefits of nuts and seeds are endless and they provide us with a plethora of nutritional properties. They rank high in a wide number of minerals and vitamins including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, selenium and vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C and B complexes.
Nuts and seeds also make great midday snacks. However, if weight loss or weight control is a concern, then watch your portion size as nuts and seeds pack a lot of calories relative to their small size. Here’s a list of some of the more popular nuts and seeds and their health benefits.
Almonds are constituted as the only nuts that actually form alkaline in the body. Alkaline foods keep the acidity levels of the body in check, making sure they don’t exceed suggested levels. Almonds are a powerhouse of various minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Furthermore, they’re considered to be an anti-carcinogenic, too.
Hazelnuts are another type of nut highly popular for the flavor they possess and the amount of minerals they provide. Hazelnuts are a goldmine of potassium, iron, iron, manganese, calcium, folic acid, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and vitamin E. One cup of hazelnuts accounts for the daily requirement of copper, 30% of the daily requirement for iron, 22% of the daily requirement and 355% of our daily manganese needs. The presence of oleic acids in hazelnuts can also help lower levels of bad cholesterol (or LDL) and raise levels of HDL (or good cholesterol), keeping healthy cholesterol levels in check.
Walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, calcium and iron. Omega 3 is a great tool to stabilize cholesterol, prevent heart diseases and maintain a healthy blood lipid profile. Among the many benefits of walnuts are their ability to reduce inflammation and pain, providing nourishment to the adrenal glands and the brain, as well as helping to lubricate the lungs, stabilize cholesterol and speed metabolic rates.
Pistachios are one of the essentials of Ayurvedic medicine. Pistachios are great for blood purification, treating constipation and lubricating the lungs. Pistachios, as documented by research, are also a good source for stabilizing cholesterol levels. A study conducted at Penn State University showed that a cup of pistachios can help increase HDL levels by 26%, and reduce LDL levels by 14%, decreasing overall cholesterol levels by 12%.
Macadamia nuts are high in fat, but 80% of their fat content is monounsaturated – the good kind that helps regulate cholesterol effectively. Furthermore, macadamia nuts contain palmitoleic acid, also referred to as omega 7, which further works towards lowering cholesterol and keeping heart health in check. Palmitoleic acid is also good for keeping the skin healthy and radiant. Some studies suggest that this omega 7 compound has the potential to speed up the metabolism.
Brazil nuts are particularly known for the amino acids they contain and their selenium content. A 100g of Brazil nuts provides up to 3485% of the daily requirement for selenium, making them the highest natural source of selenium! Selenium is known to strengthen the body’s immune system, helping it fight free radical damage.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and help strengthen the muscle, treat muscle wear and tear and reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Consisting of 18 different amino acids, Brazil nuts rank particularly high in glutamic acid, known to aid the metabolism and support the nervous system.
Flaxseeds are well known for their Omega 3 fatty acid content – and they’re the most efficient source of Omega 3s, too. This attribute makes them a great tool for strengthening the immune system and stabilizing cholesterol levels in the body. Flaxseeds also possess lignans, which are compounds known for their anti-tumor and antioxidant properties.
Consisting of a good amount of lignans, sesame seeds can also be considered an anti-cancer food. Certain studies conducted on sesame seeds have concluded that they’re effective in lowering the risk of stomach and breast cancer. Furthermore, sesame seeds also consist of zinc and calcium, which can help maintain bone health and reduce risks of bone mineral deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of iron, magnesium, unsaturated fats, proteins, iodine, copper, manganese, selenium, iron, fluorine, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins E and B. One cup of sunflower seeds can account for 122% of the daily-required intake of copper, 140% of manganese and 151% of selenium.
Pumpkin seeds carry a number of essential health benefits. Pumpkin seeds consist of a compound called L-tryptophan, a natural depression alleviator. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds carry the distinct quality of helping fight intestinal parasites – specifically tapeworms and roundworms, thanks to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of the mineral zinc. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of pumpkin seeds due to their zinc content. Additionally, these seeds are also a great source of Vitamin E.