If you’ve ever embarked on a health & fitness plan to trim down excess weight, you’ve most likely heard that you must cut your intake of nuts and seeds. However, nuts and seeds are filled with healthy protein and fat and are a great snack to keep you satiated throughout the day. Eating 10 almonds a day, a small handful, is more than enough and if hunger strikes after dinner you can also enjoy a handful of sunflower seeds.
Nuts and seeds are very nourishing and are rich sources of vital minerals, protein and fat. Studies show that people who regularly consume nuts have lower occurrences of heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases. Due to their phytic acid content and enzyme inhibitors, many people find nuts hard to digest. To work around this, soak them in water for 24 hours (1 tbsp of sea salt per liter of water) and then dry in your oven at a low temperature. Store your nuts and seeds in an airtight container until you are ready to use them, or grind them up directly after soaking to use in baked goods.
Almonds have a 60% fat content and are 20% protein overall. They are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. After soaking and sprouting your almonds, you can add in some tamari to make a delicious roasted snack.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha linolenic acid. They are beneficial to brain function and have been shown to exert positive cardiovascular effects. This can be attributed to their arginine content, an amino acid that is converted to nitric oxide, a chemical which allows the blood vessels to relax and ease blood flow. Walnuts are also rich in antioxidants, especially ellagic acid. Ellagic acid helps to shield healthy cells from abnormal cell division and multiplication by protecting against oxidative degradation.
3. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which is a component of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase that works alongside vitamin E in preventing free radical damage to cell membranes. Low levels of selenium are linked to a higher risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases and other conditions associated with increased oxidative damage, including premature aging. As brazil nuts contain high levels of selenium, you only need a maximum of two servings per week.
4. Sunflower seeds
Sunflowers seeds are packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron. The high selenium and vitamin E content exerts an antioxidant effect and magnesium helps with keeping you calm by soothing the nerves and palliating tension headaches. You can add sunflower seeds to trail mixes, as stand-alone snacks, on top of oatmeal or over salads.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium and phytosterols. Only ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provides half the RDA of magnesium which contributes to energy metabolism, relaxation of the blood vessels and proper bone formation. The high zinc content is immune-supportive and is especially beneficial for men in protecting against prostate cancer.