Written by R. S Jacobs
Did you know there are billions of animals from different species across the globe that survive on nuts and seeds? Bears, birds, chickens, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and monkeys are known to eat tonnes of seeds and nuts annually. Some of these animals have a very similar digestive system to humans and yet, they don’t have the obesity crisis we have in the world today. I am going to explain why we should switch sugar filled unhealthy snacks like crisps, pizza, cakes, chocolate, donuts, biscuits and ice cream for peanuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
I acknowledge that nut allergies are one of the most common allergies, and for those people, eating nuts is most certainly not an option. However, for those who don’t have this problem, there is no excuse. A very common misconception is that nuts will cause you to gain weight because they are high in fat. The fact is anything eaten in excessive amounts will lead to weight gain, regardless of their nutritional content. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to actually gain weight by eating nuts and seeds alone due to the high fiber content and how the body processes them. I saw an experiment where a woman was asked to eat 21,000 calories worth of almond nuts over the space of a month (in addition to maintaining her previous food intake which was an average of 1800 calories daily). It brought her calorie intake to a whopping 2500 calories a day. The results were surprising as she only gained a total of 1 pound after the month was over!
I couldn’t quite believe it myself so I decided to investigate further. I discovered that when we eat nuts and seeds, your metabolism increases because it takes longer to digest as a result of its high fiber content. During this process, the digestive system only absorbs the required amount of calories the body needs at that specific time and the rest is transported into the intestines as waste. The fat in nuts is not as easily absorbed like many other foods, roughly 10% – 20% of the energy is absorbed before defecation. This process makes weight gain difficult unless you are consuming massive volume. If anything, you are more likely to lose weight due to your metabolism been sped up.
Did you also know that your heart goes “nuts” for nuts? Pardon the pun! If you have been following some of the new health findings over recent years, you will know how important it is to get healthy fats in your diet to maintain good heart health. The fats contained in nuts & seeds are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats which lower bad cholesterol, keeping the heart in tip-top shape. They have a good concentrate of essential vitamins like folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium, copper etc. Nuts & seeds are also rich in arginine which is a form of protein that relaxes blood vessels and eases the flow of blood to the heart through the arteries, veins and capillaries.
The way our body handles the processing of nuts is truly magnificent and we should not shy away from eating them based on myths about how fat is bad. Just a handful of nuts or seeds is all you need each day to gain all the nutritional benefits. If you incorporate this into your meal plan, you would also find that you get less hungry throughout the day due to the high satiety characteristics of nuts and seeds. You will end up feeling fuller for longer with less temptation to eat excessive amounts of empty calories, especially if you are trying to lose a few extra pounds.
Health Benefits of Eating Nuts & Seeds.
* Brain Fuel. What is good for the heart, is good for the brain. Nut and seeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid which the body can’t produce on its own. Consequently, we have to get it from natural food sources. This acid is a type of omega 3 fatty acid which is important for brain development and cell function. Pregnant women would greatly benefit from nuts for foetal brain development. Older people should also eat more nuts to avoid cognitive decline and brain diseases.
* Glowing Skin. Nuts and seeds are rich in oils that help to support the sebaceous glands in boosting its function. This will keep the skin lubricated and prevents the early onset of wrinkles or skin infections. So, if you want to maintain a healthy youthful glow, start digging into some nuts.
* Free Radicals. When our cells are oxygenated, there is an unfriendly potential that too many free radicals can be produced which are responsible for attacking healthy cells. Thankfully, nuts and seeds are high in antioxidants that can fight these free radicals and prevent them from causing chaos in the immune system and also help to prohibit the development of cancerous cells.
* Sugar Levels. Eating a good amount of nuts and seeds daily make a considerable improvement at keeping your glucose levels in check. Some nuts and seeds can increase insulin sensitivity which explains why scientists are performing studies on whether eating them can assist in reversing pre-diabetes. Read more on why should quit sugar today
* Vitamins & Minerals. Here are some of the main nutrients found in nuts and seeds: vitamins and mineral A, B, C, D, E, K, calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, sodium, molybdenum and much more. Doesn’t it make sense to get these from a natural source that the body can process easily? You can ensure you get most of your recommended daily intake by eating these lovely little gems.
* Nervous System. Monounsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds support the communication of signals between one nerve to another. A healthy central nervous system (CNS) is necessary to service the peripheral nervous system (PNS). They are fundamental in coordinating bodily functions like pumping blood around the body, movement, talking, sensory, thinking, digesting food and much more.
* Disease Prevention. Evidence is growing to suggest that integrating a diet full of nuts and seeds can help prevent diseases such as cancer, cardiac problems, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and even viral infection. This makes perfect sense when you consider that they are full of nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats and phytochemicals.
Nuts and seeds are truly a gift from Mother Nature and a real confirmation that good things do come in small packages! Don’t be concerned about the myth that you will gain weight by eating them, but remember that moderation is the key! Nuts and seeds are so versatile, so you can have them in more ways than just as a snack. Why not grab some of your favourite nuts and make some homemade peanut butter! Always beware of consuming nuts if you have any concern of allergies. Children should eat nuts and seeds daily to aid their growth and provide the right nutrients for this important stage of their life. Basically, people of all ages should be getting their daily dose, and you will not be disappointed. I trust that you will see the benefits in no time, and another reason to have nuts is – they are DELICIOUS !
Stay strong, warriors.
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