One Nutty Girl
Yes, that’s me! I’m sure some people have their own ideas about my nuttiness (not sure that’s even a word), but I’m actually referring to my food choices. I eat a handful of various nuts two, sometimes 3, times a day. So many people (mostly women) avoid this tasty treat because they think it will make them fat. Honestly, it’s not the nuts that make you fat, it’s all the grains and sugars that packs the pounds on!
Nuts are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and fiber! I eat every kind of nut (except peanuts (not even a nut) and cashews because I’m allergic), but my 3 favorite are almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
Eating almonds has the same effect as the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. A one and a half ounce handful of almonds is a leading source of vitamin E and magnesium and offers protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron in 246 calories. There is as much calcium in 1 1/2 ounces of almonds as there is in 1 1/4 cup of milk. Also, almonds (and other nuts) contain phytochemicals, which are plant chemicals that may provide powerful protection against heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Almonds may lower LDL (aka “bad) cholesterol, and they seem to help block the body’s absorption of both fat and carbohydrates. This has numerous implications for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Almonds may slow the actual absorption of the carbohydrates into the body, which means that they help to create a slower rise in blood sugar levels – and therefore help to keep insulin levels in check.
These nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (about 72%) like oleic acid and an excellent source of all important omega-3 essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and arachidonic acids. Regular intake of walnuts and pecans in the diet help to lower total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
Eating just as much as 25 g each day provides about 90% of RDI (recommended daily intake) ofomega-3 fatty acids. Research studies have suggested that n-3 fatty acids by their virtue of anti-inflammatory action helps to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Walnuts and pecans are a rich source of many phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to their overall anti-oxidant activity, including melatonin, ellagic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids, and poly-phenolic compounds. These compounds have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
In addition, they are also excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals. These nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.
They also are a very rich source of minerals like manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron,magnesium, zinc, and selenium.