Who knew that splurging on nuts could render so many health benefits? Well, apparently The Body Ecology Diet staff has an idea or two about how powerful these crunchy snacks can be when eaten correctly. “Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite,” says Judy Caplan, MS, RD, the media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Nuts supply us with protein, essential fatty acids and B vitamins. But, according to BED, each nut has something unique to offer.
Nuts you say?
Here is the Body Ecology Diet’s “guide to common nuts”
- Almonds help stabilize blood sugar, have high calcium content, and are the least acid forming. They are the only nut to eat on stage 1 of the Body Ecology diet.
- Brazil nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of the mineral selenium that may help prevent breast cancer.
- Cashews are high in magnesium (second only to almonds) that can help build strong bones and have more carbohydrates and a lower fat content than most other nuts. They are often inexpensive relative to other nuts discussed here.
- Hazelnuts are a good source of quality protein. Vitamin E and beta-sitosterol in hazelnuts contribute to heart health and fight cancer.
- Macadamia nuts are high in fat, though nearly all of it is monounsaturated. They are a good source of thiamine and contain small amounts of phosphorous, selenium, calcium and potassium.
- Walnuts have high levels of vitamin E and an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (1:5). These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, protect heart health and guard against arthritis.
- Pecans also have high vitamin E content and regular consumption may help decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- Pine nuts are actually the seeds of pine trees and contain large amounts of thiamine (vitamin B1) and protein. If you are trying to lose weight, a substance in pine nuts may act as an appetite suppressant.
- Pistachios have lots of calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, as well as fiber and iron.
What about Peanuts?
The article also suggests that we take care in choosing peanuts because they can harbor harmful fungus. But, peanuts aren’t nuts at all, right? The BED article fails to mention the fact that peanuts are legumes. Legumes, like peas and lentils, grow in pods.
Dr Knowledge at the Boston Globe states:
Finally, peanuts are legumes, with the seeds in pods like peas and beans. Interestingly, peanuts grow underground and are sometimes called “ground nuts.” The “ground” part of the name is right, but the “nut” part is technically incorrect.
How should I eat my nuts?
Being aware of the health benefits of nuts, like which nuts are good for what, is the first step to a healthy consumption of the same. However, you should also pay attention to how and how much of nuts you should eat. According to Caplan, “Nuts are a great thing to eat when you’re having a carbohydrate like fruit or juice, because it helps slow down digestion and the breakdown of sugar”. Mixing nuts with salads and adding them to low fat yogurt are a couple of easy and healthy ways to consume them.
It is very easy to overeat nuts as they taste so good, and combined with our knowledge that they have great health benefits, we might go overboard with them. However, remember that nuts are very dense in calories and are high in fat but low in water, so eating unlimited amounts could lead to weight gain and increased cholesterol levels. Experts say that you should limit your intake to about one-fourth cup of nuts per day (a little more if you are vegetarian for getting plant-based protein).
You may also want to proceed with caution to your next nut-eating fiesta if you have a viral or fungal infection.
Gina Laverde is a Chicago-based writer and researcher whose expertise in natural health stems from her experiences with Body Ecology Diet, Blood Type Diet and homeopathic remedies. Gina believes that we’re in the midst of a serious world health crisis, and that the key to survival lies within our guts.