Nuts and seeds-1

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Nuts and seeds-1

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Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins, and minerals

Nuts and seeds regulate body weight as their fats are not fully absorbed, they regulate food intake, and help burn energy

Nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fats and other nutrients that provide protective effects against heart disease

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a nut intake of 30 grams on most days of the week as part of a healthy diet for adults

Types of nuts and seeds

Research shows that making nuts a regular part of a healthy diet helps to regulate our weight, and can protect against chronic diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes).

Although there has been limited research on seeds. they are thought to have similar health benefits due to their nutrient content

Types of nuts

A nut is a simple dry fruit consisting of one or two edible kernels inside a hard shell. Nuts include

almonds

Brazil nuts

cashew nuts

hazelnuts

macadamias

pecans

pine nuts

pistachios

walnuts

peanuts are legumes, they are classified as nuts due to their similar characteristics to other tree nuts

Types of seeds

The nutrient profiles of seeds are also very similar to those of nuts. Common seeds include

pumpkin seeds

flax seeds

sesame seeds

poppy seeds

sunflower seeds

psyllium seeds 

chia seeds

Benefits of nuts

protein resources

Most nuts have very similar macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) profiles, but different types of nuts may have slightly different micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) content

Nuts have about 29 kJ of energy per gram, and are

High in ‘good fats’ – monounsaturated fats (most nut types) and polyunsaturated fats (mainly walnuts).

Low in saturated fats

Good sources of dietary protein – a good alternative to animal protein. 

Some nuts are also high in amino acid arginine, which keeps blood vessels healthy

Free of dietary cholesterol

High in dietary fibre.

Rich in phytochemicals that act as antioxidants

Rich in vitamins and minerals – vitamins include – E, B6, niacin and folate) and minerals include – magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium

Benefits of seeds

Like nuts, most seeds are rich in

protein, healthy fats, and fibre 

minerals (such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, plant iron and zinc)

vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E

Oily seeds also contain antioxidants that stop the fats from going rancid too quickly

Due to the unique nutrient profiles of nuts and seeds, they are known to provide several health benefits, such as

Nuts, seeds
Nuts, seeds

helping to maintain your weight

reducing your heart disease risk

reducing your diabetes risk

Nuts, seeds and weight management

Although nuts and seeds are high in energy and fats, eating nuts is not connected with weight gain. In fact, based on large population studies, higher nut intake has been associated with lower body weight

When included as part of a weight-loss diet, nuts have been shown to enhance weight loss and fat loss in the abdominal region 

Lower fat in the abdominal region means lower risk for chronic diseases (such as heart disease and diabetes). Therefore, nuts should be part of a healthy diet

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 30 grams of nuts on most days of the week

Nuts help with

Fat absorption – fats in nuts are not fully digested and absorbed by the body. When less fats are absorbed it means that less energy from nuts is absorbed to

Hunger and fullness – nuts help to suppress our hunger. As a result, food intake is reduced. This effect is due to the protein, fat, and fibre content of nuts

Energy expenditure – research suggests that nuts can increase the amount of energy we burn. Energy we burn following a nut-enriched meal comes from fat sources, meaning that we burn more and store less fat

The effect of seeds on body weight has not been researched extensively but is likely to be similar to nuts as they are also high in protein, healthy fat and fibre

Nuts and heart disease risk

Nuts and seeds

Including nuts as part of your diet  has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease
Although high in fats, nuts are good sources of healthy fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), and are low in (unhealthy) saturated fats

This combination of ‘good fats’, makes nuts heart healthy – they help to reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, (known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) in the body

LDL cholesterol can add to the build-up of plaque (fatty deposits) in your arteries, which can increase your risk of coronary heart disease

Nuts also help to maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure (through their arginine content), and reduce inflammation in the body as they are high in antioxidants

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 30 grams of nuts on most days of the week 
 for adults

One serving quals approximately 30 grams – or 1/3 of a cup (or one handful)

Since all nuts have a similar nutrient content, a wide variety of nuts can be included as part of a healthy diet. This equal to about

30 almonds 

10 Brazil nuts 

15 cashews 

20 hazelnuts 

15 macadamias 

15 pecans 

2 tablespoons pine nuts 

30 pistachios

10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves 

a small handful of peanuts or mixed nuts

How to include nuts and seeds in your diet

Different types of nuts have slight differences in their vitamin and mineral content, so eating a variety of nuts will increase your levels of various nutrients. Tips on how to make nuts and seeds a part of your diet include

Instead of snacking on biscuit or piece of cake as a snack, have a handful of raw or dry roasted nuts

Combine nuts and seeds with low-energy dense foods (such as vegetables). This is a good way to enhance vegetable-based meals – such as in Asian-style dishes or added to a salad

If you are vegan or vegetarian, nuts and seeds are a good protein substitute for meats, fish and eggs.  They also contain fat, iron, zinc and niacin. You may need more than 30 grams of nuts and seeds a day to ensure adequate protein

Eat them with vitamin C rich foods and add them to drinks (such as tomato, capsicum, orange and citrus juices) to boost your iron absorption

There is no need to soak or remove the skin of nuts (or ‘activate’ them) unless you prefer the flavour and texture of soaked nuts. In fact, the skin of nuts is high in phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Roasting nuts (either dry or in oil) enhances their flavour but has little impact on their fat content. This is because nuts are physically dense and cannot absorb much oil, even if they are submerged in it. Most nuts only absorb 2% of extra fats

Salted nuts are not recommended due to their higher sodium content – especially if you have high blood pressure. Save salted nuts for parties and make raw and unsalted roasted nuts your everyday choic

Nut warnings

Be mindful of the risks when eating nuts

Nuts can be a choking hazard

Whole nuts are not suitable for children under 3 years because they may cause choking if they are not chewed well. However, nut and seed spreads or paste (such as peanut or almond butter, or nut and seed oils) can be included in young children’s diets from 6 months

Nuts can trigger allergic reactions

All tree nuts, peanuts and seeds may trigger life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in those with nut allergies

Unlike many other allergies where children seem to ‘grow out of it’, peanut allergies tend to persist into adulthood

There is no cure for allergies, so if you or your child have a nut or seed allergy, avoid nuts, seeds and foods containing them until you have seen a doctor who specialises in food allergies (an allergist). They will conduct medically supervised food tests to find out which nuts or seeds you may be allergic to

Nuts and seeds should be introduced to infants in the form of butters or pastes, to prevent choking. Do not give whole nuts to your child until they are 3 years

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