Within the vegan world, it is a well-known fact that nuts reign supreme. Not only do they include an extraordinary amount of essential nutrients, but they’re also incredibly versatile and truly delicious! Below, Lucy-Ann points out which nuts are the be healthiest and why it’s a good idea to include these in your diet…
Almonds, although often referred to as a ‘nut’, are actually seeds. These seeds reside in the fruit borne from an almond tree, which is closely related to cherry, apricot and peach trees.
These seeds in their raw form are rich in protein and hold high levels of monounsaturated fats, which is a healthy fat. They also contain a great abundance of other nutritional qualities such as biotin, a B vitamin, which plays an essential role in metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Biotin, which is considered an essential vitamin, provides numerous health benefits. Not only does it contain Vitamin E, but it also acts as a coenzyme which helps translate food into energy. This is done through facilitating the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats into glucose, whilst it also boils down protein into amino acids. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, biotin in almonds also helps protect the skin from UV rays in sunlight and other harmful rays.
Your body loves these!
With a profusion of Vitamin E and ‘good’ monounsaturated fats called oleic acid, almonds have the ability to lower harmful LDL cholesterol, which closely links the seed to heart health. Not only that, but almonds also contain a wealth of minerals including the likes of magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron and fibre.
This means, that with regular consumption, almonds can assist in steadying blood sugar levels. Oleic acid is also found in olives, macadamia nuts and avocado, making it an integral element of the Mediterranean diet which is widely considered to be the healthiest in the world.
Antioxidants and energy
The mighty almond does not stop with its benefits there. They also include the trace minerals, manganese and copper, which are essential in activating superoxide dismutase. This is a key enzyme that flattens out damaging chemicals which are initially produced within the mitochondria of cells, which is the energy source of cells where we burn calories and produce energy.
Riboflavin, otherwise known as B2, is another B vitamin that is involved in energy metabolism and is also included in the humble almond. Responsible for protecting cells from free radical damage and creating energy, almonds supply a plethora of different benefits and vitamins, making it a complete and natural energy food.
Tasty ways to include almonds in the diet
- Add sliced almonds to coconut infused Thai dishes or stir-fried vegetables
- For a mid-morning snack add a small portion of almonds to fresh apple
- Throw together almonds with wholegrain rice/quinoa, fresh mint, garden peas and raisins
- Chop almonds and mix them in with fresh fruits, natural yoghurt or mueslis
- A knob of almond butter swirled in with a breakfast smoothie can help boost mineral and protein content.
With only a handful of Brazil nuts, you already have an abundance of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, fibres, proteins and essential antioxidants and minerals. As one of the highest fat-containing nuts, with a vast majority of them being unsaturated, you have a portion of quality food that is efficiently used by the body.
Brazil nuts also contain essential antioxidant minerals including selenium content. This is considered its most prominent nutritional content, as selenium plays an important role in reducing risks of cancer and heart disease. Although selenium is an important antioxidant, due to depleted soils, this is lacking in many modern diets.
For those who have a weaker immune system, and frequently experience bouts of coughs and colds, Brazil nuts are an excellent remedy. The presence of the trace mineral selenium also fuels your body with zinc; this helps to boost your immunity making Brazil nuts a brilliant antioxidant.
This nutritious nut also holds an abundance of magnesium, which is great for people who have a magnesium deficiency. This deficiency is linked to some serious issues including heart disease, insomnia, stress and poor muscle deficiency so it’s a good idea to ensure you have an increased dosage of magnesium content. Foods including spinach, dark leafy greens and, chickpeas and bananas are also noted for their great magnesium content so don’t forget to also include those within your balanced diet!
Here’s a little run down of the specific nutrients which you’ll find in Brazil nuts, a small 25g snack provides you with…
- 102mg Magnesium
- 17g fat
- 170 calories
- 42mg calcium
- 4g protein
- 1mg zinc
- 64ug selenium
- 1g CHO
- 1g fibre