Not only do nuts and seeds taste nice (especially in cold winters), they also have several health benefits. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower and pumpkin seeds can all serve as excellent energy sources in small quantities and positively affect your heart and brain. They contain the essential fats, vitamins and minerals in appropriate quantities and are extremely effective in reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system.
Heart healthy fats
While nuts and seeds have fats, they are the mono and polyunsaturated varieties, which are essential for cell membranes and inflammation issues. These fats are much more healthy compared to the saturated and trans-fats from animal meat, dairy and processed food products. Saturated and trans-fats are responsible for several diseases and lower the levels of good cholesterol in the body. According to a ‘British Medical Journal’ study, published in 1998, people who consumed nuts five days a week considerably lowered their chances of heart disease.
Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and keeps you feeling full and satisfied after eating. If your diet has high fiber content, you are less likely to overeat. Moreover, fiber is very helpful in reducing blood cholesterol level, which directly affects your heart. Fiber is known to bind with bile acids, reducing fat absorption in the body. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the fiber content of nuts is responsible for lowering the cholesterol level by about 25%.
Nuts and seeds are rich in essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc and phosphorus, which are used by the body for the production of energy, development of bones and the functioning of the immune system. A health study revealed that proper magnesium intake reduces inflammation, which is directly related to cardiac diseases and type II diabetes. Sunflower seeds are known to have high magnesium content and an ounce of almonds can provide about 75mg calcium.
Nuts and seeds for snacks
You should aim to consume different types of nuts and seeds, since all of them have their own sets of nutrients and healthy fats. Snacking on nuts and seeds is a great way to relieve those hunger pangs and ensure that you are taking the required levels of essential vitamins and minerals. However, it is recommended that you go for untreated nuts, since the treated varieties often have oil and salt, which negate their health benefits.