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Article: Nuts – small but mighty!

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Nuts – small but mighty!

Everyone advises you to eat more nuts. After all, they are so good for us. But why exactly? And: Which nuts are particularly healthy?

Health Benefits of Nuts

Nuts are actually called nut fruits and, from a botanical point of view, are so-called closed fruits whose fruit wall consists of three woody layers. As you probably know, there are a lot of different types of nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts… But wait! Because peanuts are actually not “real” nuts , but are legumes. On the other hand, there are also nuts that we don't even know as nuts. An example is the hemp nut, which is better known to us as hemp seeds .

So what makes nuts so healthy?

Starting with protein and magnesium , through zinc and healthy fats to antioxidants and valuable trace elements: nuts are little powerhouses and contain all sorts of “good stuff”. Some nutritionists therefore describe nuts as a “perfect compromise between meat and vegetables”.

Each nut has its own specific benefits. We'll talk about these in more detail in a moment.

What all nuts have in common is that they contain many minerals and vitamins . The antioxidants contained in nuts are also very essential as they “catch” free radicals and protect the body from cell damage. Nuts strengthen our immune system.

Nuts are also particularly well-known for their positive effects on the health of our heart and digestion, skin and hair, and in regulating high blood pressure.

Some time ago, nuts were considered fattening due to their high fat content. However, we now know that the fatty acids contained in nuts are healthy fats that have many health benefits. A little more about that:

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids regulate inflammatory processes in our body. While omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids act as the anti-inflammatory counterpart. To prevent inflammatory diseases from occurring, there must be a balance between both types of fatty acids in our body. A ratio of 2.5:1 (omega-6:omega-3) is considered neutral in inflammation. However, in our population the average ratio is 15:1! It is therefore important that we consume more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids (which, by the way, are found in large quantities in sunflower and soybean oil as well as in animal feed, which we also get through consuming meat take). In addition to fish, nuts are a very valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids.

So, to keep our overall health in check, regular consumption of nuts is very beneficial. ☺️

What do I have to consider when eating nuts?

Because nuts also contain a lot of carbohydrates, they should be enjoyed in moderation. A handful of nuts a day is the generally recommended amount. The handful can consist of very different types: e.g. 2 Brazil nuts, 2 walnuts, 3 almonds, 3 peanuts and 2-3 macadamia nuts. A mixture like this optimally covers both our body's selenium needs and our daily vitamin E needs.

You don't always have to eat the nuts in addition to other food; you can also enjoy them instead of sausage or cheese. You should always chew nuts well .

When buying nuts, you should pay attention to organic quality and, if possible, regional produce . Almonds, for example, originally come from the Mediterranean region; However, the largest growing areas today are in California, in the USA. This involves long transport routes, which is of course not particularly good for the CO 2 footprint.

The nuts are often already salted and/or roasted before purchase. However, it is best to buy nuts that are as untreated as possible. It is also beneficial to get whole nuts and chop them up as needed, otherwise they will quickly go rancid.

They can be enjoyed on their own as a snack, roasted and added to salads, used as a topping for a variety of savory dishes or added to porridge or smoothies in the form of nut butter.

Untreated almonds on a tree before harvest

Photo by Marcia Cripps on Unsplash

Particularly healthy nuts and their respective benefits

Before I talk in more detail about selected types of nuts, it should be said that every nut has certain benefits and no nut is really unhealthy. I have decided to highlight five varieties that are particularly known for their health benefits and whose properties have already been researched a lot.☺️

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the most well-known types of nuts. A certain omega-3 fatty acid found in walnuts, ALA, strengthens the heart and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels. The high zinc content should also be emphasized because it is important for a functioning immune system and for our wound healing.
The walnut is often associated with our brain, and not just because of its appearance. Eating walnuts promotes blood circulation throughout the body, and also in the head. However, other “brain-beneficial” properties attributed to walnuts are currently mostly speculative.

By the way, walnuts also grow in Germany.

2. Almonds

Strictly speaking, almonds are not nuts, but rather stone fruits. They contain a lot of protein, vitamin B2, vitamin E and magnesium. Vitamin B2 plays an important role in warding off diseases. Almonds also contain a lot of folic acid, which is particularly important during pregnancy.

Almonds are available in a wide variety of varieties in our supermarkets: chopped, ground, with or without shell... Speaking of shell: Many important ingredients, including fiber, are in the skin of the almond. If you want to get the full power of almonds, you should use unpeeled, raw almonds.

3. Hazelnuts

It is one of the oldest types of nuts in Europe and is still native to us today: the hazelnut. It is a true all-rounder: fiber, lots of protein, zinc, iron, vitamin E and healthy fatty acids... It's a shame that the hazelnut is so often underestimated!

Its ingredients protect our body cells from harmful influences, stimulate our digestion and provide energy for our muscles.

Hazelnuts taste particularly good when they are roasted. When roasted, the proteins react with the sugar substances they contain. This is where the aroma really develops. In this state they go perfectly with salads or as a topping on baked goods. Please note, however, that the unsaturated fatty acids contained become more susceptible to damage or oxidation when roasted. Therefore, you should not use roasted nuts too often. After all, if left untreated, nuts are still best for our health. 🤗

4. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts have become increasingly popular in recent years. Although they have been an integral part of trail mix for a long time, they have only recently been truly celebrated in their pure form or individually. The reason for the nut's increasing popularity is its high selenium content. The trace element selenium protects against cancer by, among other things, binding and detoxifying heavy metals. This trace element is also important for the thyroid.

A selenium deficiency can be easily compensated for by eating 1-3 Brazil nuts per day. In many cases, deficiency symptoms can no longer be observed after just 6-12 weeks.

Compared to other nuts, the Brazil nut contains more monosaturated fatty acids, which does not make it a “bad” nut.

Brazil nuts are mainly grown in Central and South America.

5. Cashews

This nut is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron and protein. These ingredients help prevent cardiovascular diseases and balance high cholesterol levels. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to the happiness hormone serotonin!

The B vitamins contained in abundance in cashews can help against fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

By the way, cashews are lower in fat compared to other nuts and therefore have fewer calories.

Which nut is your favorite? Feel free to write it to us in the comments below on this post! 🥜

If you would like to find out more about healthy eating, mindfulness, sustainability or family and pregnancy, check out more exciting blog articles on these topics here .

Photo by Jenn Kosar on Unsplash

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