A Spanish study reveals how a handful of nuts can prevent the onset of heart disease. iTALK tells you why you'd rather munch on these than chips, during a snack break
Want a hot bod like Celina? Eat nuts Actor Celina Jaitley believes eating healthy is the best way to stay fit. She says, "I eat seven mini meals every day after every two-and-a-half hours. Breakfast is a must. I add a lot of fruits and nuts to my diet."
Do you avoid nuts because you fear their high fat content? We say you should probably reconsider your decision, because along with being rich in calories (about 80 % of which come from fat), nuts are an ideal source of nutrients.
Four reasons to go nutty:
>>Nuts contain essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acids which are vital for growth, healthy skin and hair, blood pressure control, immune response and blood clotting.
>>They mostly contain unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fat. This type of fat does not raise blood cholesterol levels like saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats have the additional benefit of raising high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart diseases.
>>Nuts are also one of the best natural sources of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, and are rich in protein, dietary fibre, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and folate.
>>Nuts also have lots of arginine, which may help improve the health of your artery walls and make them more flexible and less prone to blood clots.
The heart and nut connection
Dr Hasmukh Ravat, Head of Department-Cardiology, Wockhardt Hospital
"Nuts contain unsaturated fats including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, both of which lower bad cholesterol levels, and are good for your heart," says Dr Ravat.
The study conducted by Spanish researchers only adds to this claim. The findings reveal that a traditional Mediterranean diet characterised by a high intake of cereals, vegetables, fruits and olive oil, a moderate intake of fish and alcohol and a low intake of dairy, meats and sweets with an additional daily serving of mixed nuts has been linked to a lower risk for metabolic abnormalities. The metabolic syndrome is a set of metabolic abnormalities that include abdominal obesity and high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
Garnish salad, coat your fish with nuts
Be innovative If you don't like wolfing down nuts, you can use them to garnish vegetable dishes, salads and pastas. You can even coat pieces of fish or chicken with nuts.
Consume them in moderation Nuts contain a lot of fat. Even though most of it is healthy fat, it still adds to the calories. That's why you should eat nuts in moderation. Current dietary guidelines suggest eating one to two ounces (a small handful) of mixed nuts daily.
Avoid salted nuts Roasting affects the oils and decreases the Vitamin B and mineral content. Weight watchers should stay away from sugar or chocolate-coated nuts as they add to calories.
If you have high cholesterol levels, avoid peanuts and cashew nuts Patients with high cholesterol should avoid eating peanuts and cashew nuts, and have four to five almonds every morning.
Almonds good for skin, pistas help teeth
Deepshikha Agarwal, Dietician and Sports nutritionist tells us all about the benefits of different types of nuts
Almonds are good for your skin, bones and heart They are rich in Vitamin E, and also contain Vitamin B. So, they are very good for your skin. Calcium is also found in high amounts. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, and contain concentrated protein.
Cashew Nuts are good for the bones, teeth and for your metabolism. Cashew nuts are significant sources of iron (essential for red blood cell function and enzyme activity), magnesium (promotes energy release and bone growth), phosphorus (builds bones and teeth), zinc (essential for digestion and metabolism).
Walnuts prevent against cardiovascular diseases It gives you cardiovascular protection by lowering the levels of triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids may also slow down the growth of plaques in the arteries and reduce swelling in the body. Walnuts and almonds are rich in fibre, and hence can be used as laxatives.
Pistas help build bones and teeth Pista are rich in potassium (regulates body's fluid balance), phosphorus (helps build bones and teeth) and magnesium (is important in the conversion of body's energy). It's a good source of Vitamin B6 (aids protein metabolism and absorption) and thiamine (enhances energy and promotes normal appetite).
Groundnuts can cut your cholesterol, lower your risk of heart disease, and provide protection against cancer. Groundnuts contain zinc, good for protecting brain function, and boron, which can help maintain strong bones. Also, it's wise to avoid them if you have a tendency to get kidney stones, or want to lose weight, as they are high in calories.