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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Common Food Elements and Diet Facts >>  Nuts


Nuts contain reduced saturated fats. They are good sources of mono and poly unsaturated fats. They are devoid of cholesterol and comprise of dietary fiber, niacin, folic acid and tocopherol. Nuts possess phytochemicals, such as, phytoestrogens and phenolic compounds, namely, ellagic acid and flavanoids. They act as a worthy substitute to non vegetarian foods, like meat, in the diet of a vegetarian, due to their rich content of zinc, protein, niacin, fat and iron.
Zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium are the minerals present in nuts. Making nuts, a part of the daily dietary regimen is recommended, provided, a wise choice is taken, owing to their nutritional values.

Research reveals that nuts and heart disease go hand in hand and possess a heart-friendly role. A handful of nuts, consumed on a weekly basis is recommended. Saturated fats increase the arterial plaque formation, causing an increase in the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and narrowing of the arterial lumen. This, in turn, results in an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Cardio protective effect is seen on regular consumption of nuts. This is attributed to the fatty acid composition, which exhibit a hypolipidemic effect.

Nuts in the diet, such as walnuts and almonds reduce LDL cholesterol levels, thereby regulating the blood vessels. Additionally, nuts possess a low glycemic index and are recommended for diabetics. This is attributed to the presence of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Coconuts and palm nuts are exceptions, containing increased saturated fats. Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, pistachios and chestnuts possess mono unsaturated fats.

Cutting down on processed foods and including nuts like almonds and chestnuts are beneficial. They can also be included in the diets of patients with diabetes and cardiac problems.  Allergies are a common complication, associated with nuts consumption. Childhood allergies persist into adulthood and can be fatal. Peanuts allergy is especially common in childhood. Hazelnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also culprits in inducing allergies. Allergies trigger an anaphylactic shock.

Studies reveal the presence of peanut allergy in infants fed on artificial milk. Roasting, maturation and curing of peanuts increase the longevity or shelf life of peanuts. Allergy to peanuts does not indicate a similar reaction to other nuts and vice versa. Nuts are energy dense and can hence be combined with a low calorie diet, such as vegetables and fruits. Nuts in an unroasted form are preferred, instead of fried or roasted ones. Nine to fifteen nuts (combination, especially almonds and walnuts) are recommended per day.
Submitted on January 16, 2014