Nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, and are rich in protein and fiber. They make a convenient and satisfying snack food. There are a variety of nuts available each with their own relative benefits and shown below is a selection of five commonly consumed nuts and their associated nutritional benefits.
Cashew nuts are a rich source of B-vitamins, which aid the maintenance of the body's nerves and muscle tissue, and boost resistance to stress. They also contain minerals important for immune health, including the antioxidant selenium, which is crucial in the production of antibodies, and virus-fighting zinc.
Cashews are a great fitness enhancer; they contain magnesium which helps to keep the bones strong while combating muscle fatigue and soreness, and copper which not only increases energy and protects joints from injury, but also helps the body to utilize iron.
Hazelnuts are high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, and contain good levels of the antioxidant Vitamin E, which helps to protect the body from the effects of pollution and other toxins, and vitamin B6, which is needed to make cysteine, a key amino acid for the immune system.
Hazelnuts are also rich in important minerals, including iron and calcium, and they are a good source of essential protein. They have the highest concentration of folate among all the tree nuts, which reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects, and can benefit many illnesses including Alzheimer's and depression.
Walnuts have the highest level of omega-3 fats (in the form alpha-linolenic acid) compared to any other nut. Omega-3 helps to keep cells strong and flexible and enhances brain function.
Walnuts also contain glutathione, an important antioxidant that aids the development of lymphocyte immune cells, and their B-vitamins provide energy and improve brain function. Walnuts are an excellent source of gamma-tocopherol, a type of Vitamin E that is associated with helping fight breast, prostate and colon cancer.
One of walnut's most valuable effects is in fighting inflammation, which plays a role in many debilitating and degenerative illnesses.
The brazil nut is one of the most nutritious of all nuts. It is one of the best sources of the antioxidant mineral selenium, which together with its high Vitamin E content, strengthens the body's immune system response, and helps to prevent cancer, heart disease and premature ageing. Selenium is also a mood-boosting mineral, and is associated with relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety and fatigue. Furthermore, it is a key component in the action of glutathione, an enzyme that suppresses free radicals and helps to halt the development of tumors.
Brazil nuts contain other important nutrients like magnesium and iron, and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids- essential for easing inflammation in the body, enhancing digestion and improving the skin.
Pistachio nuts contain the anti-viral mineral calcium, as well as magnesium, which helps the body to absorb calcium, and eases allergic reactions. Pistachios are also high in fiber and a good source of protein.
Pistachios are the richest source of phytosterols- which are associated with anticancer and heart-health properties- among all of the tree nuts. They are also high in the amino acid arginine, which helps to dilate blood vessels to enhance blood flow to all areas of the body, and are the richest source of the phytochemical lutein, excellent for eye health, compared to any other tree nut.
How Much nuts Should Be Consumed
There is no fixed recommended amount of nuts that you should be taking on a daily basis. You should simply ensure that you include them in the diet as they are a great source of very important nutrients. You could have small amounts of each nut regularly, or create a mixture of the nuts, place in a jar, and try to take a small handful - this could be daily, or every other day. The important thing is to ensure inclusion in the diet in moderation and balance with the rest of your dietary intake.