Food And Nutrition

Nuts And Seeds Health Benefits 

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are small, edible foods that come from plants. They are packed with nutrients like healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts, while common seeds include chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Eating nuts and seeds can be good for your health, as they may support heart health, brain function, and your overall well-being. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation because they are also calorie-filled. 


Types Of Nuts And Seeds

There are some common types of nuts and seeds which are:

Nuts:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Peanuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts

Seeds:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Quinoa seeds (technically a pseudocereal, but often grouped with seeds)
  • Watermelon seeds
  • Pomegranate seeds


Health Benefits Of Nuts

Research shows that adding nuts as part of your diet can offer a range of health benefits like weight control and protection against chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes due to their nutrient composition. 

Here are some key health benefits associated with eating nuts:

  • Heart health
  • Weight management 
  • Packed with nutrients 
  • Antioxidant properties 
  • Blood sugar control 
  • Brain health 


Heart health 

Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These fats can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower the risk of a heart disease. Studies have shown that regular eating of nut is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.


Weight management 

Despite being it being calorie-filled, they can actually be beneficial for weight control. They are filling due to their high protein, fiber, and healthy fat content, which can help control appetite and prevent overeating. Adding nuts into a balanced diet can contribute to weight loss or maintenance.


Nutrient-dense

Nuts are packed with great nutrients. They contain a variety of vitamins, including vitamin E, folate, and B vitamins. They are also rich in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and selenium, which are important for overall health and various bodily functions.


Antioxidant properties

They are a good source of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and vitamin E. Antioxidants help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by harmful free radicals, in the process help lower the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.


Blood sugar control

Even though they contain high fat content, nuts have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Adding nuts in your meals or snacks can help stabilize blood sugar and improve glycemic control, particularly for people with diabetes.


Brain health

Some nuts, such as walnuts, are particularly beneficial for brain health. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your reasoning function and may help improve memory and brain health over time.


Benefits Of Seeds

Although there has been limited research on seeds they are thought to offer similar health benefits to nuts due to their nutrient content which is close to nuts. Here are some key benefits associated with eating seeds:

  • Nutrient powerhouse 
  • Heart health
  • Aid Gut health
  • Weight management 
  • Blood sugar control
  • Antioxidant properties 
  • Bone health
  • Plant-based protein 


Nutrient powerhouse

Seeds are packed with essential nutrients, including healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are especially rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and brain function.


Heart health

Many seeds, such as chia seeds and flaxseeds, are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. Seeds can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.


Aid Gut health

Seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements, prevents constipation, and supports a healthy gut microbiome. Chia seeds, for example, absorb liquid and form a gel-like form, which can help with easy flow of food contents. 


Weight management

They are filled with nutrients and high in fiber and protein, which can cause feelings of fullness and aid in weight management. Adding seeds in your meals or snacks can help curb cravings and prevent overeating.


Blood sugar control

Seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds, have a low sugar content and can help regulate your blood sugar levels. They can be beneficial for people with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.


Antioxidant properties

Most of these seeds contain various antioxidants, such as vitamin E and phenolic compounds, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Antioxidants play a role in maintaining overall health and well-being and are important in keeping things in check.


Bone health

Some seeds, such as sesame seeds, are rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are great for maintaining strong and healthy bones.


Plant-based protein

Seeds are a good source of plant-based protein, which makes them an excellent choice for people following a vegetarian or vegan diets. They provide essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair, growth, and overall body function.

It’s important to note that seeds should be eaten in moderation, as they are calorie-packed. Additionally, certain seeds, such as flaxseeds, are more beneficial when you grind or soak them, because they take in more nutrients when done in this way.


Are There Any Risk Associated With Eating Them Nuts And Seeds?

Nuts and Seeds surely offer a number of health benefits, but there are a few considerations and potential risks that are linked with their consumption:

  • Allergies
  • Calories packed
  • Phytic acid
  • Oxlates 
  • Rancidity 



Allergies

Nuts, especially peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, cashews), can cause severe allergic reactions in those with nut allergies. Nut allergies can be life-threatening, and even small just small amounts of nuts or cross-contamination can cause allergic reactions. It’s important for those with nut allergies to avoid them and carefully read food labels to check for any ingredients they are allergic to.


Calorie packed

Both of them are high caloric foods due to their high fat content. While the fats in nuts are mostly healthy, eating them in large quantities can contribute to excess calorie intake. If you’re trying to manage your weight, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and incorporate nuts and seeds as part of a balanced diet.


Phytic acid

Some nuts and seeds contain phytic acid, which can stick to minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron and reduce the way your body takes them. Soaking or roasting them can help reduce phytic acid levels and enhance mineral absorption.


Oxlates

Certain nuts and seeds, such as almonds and sesame seeds, contain oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in those that can easily get it. If you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk, it may be advisable to moderate your intake of foods high in oxalates.


Rancidity

They also contain oils that can become bad  over time, especially if they are improperly stored or exposed to heat, light, or air. Spoilt nuts can have an unpleasant taste and may contain harmful compounds. It’s best to store them in a cool, dry place, preferably in airtight containers, and check for signs of freshness before eating them.


Can Nuts And Seeds Help With Weight Management?

Nuts and seeds can be beneficial for weight control. Although they calorie filled, even in a small portion, they have characteristics that can help with weight management such as providing the feeling of fullness, which can control craving and stop you from overeating.

Some studies suggest that the body may not absorb all the calories from nuts and seeds due to their tough cell walls. And in the process the body uses more energy to digest them compared to processed snacks, which can slightly increase calorie burn.

Furthermore, they provide a wide range of important nutrients, such as healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Adding  them in a balanced diet ensures you’re getting important nutrients while managing your weight.

However, it’s key you keep portion sizes in mind because nuts and seeds are quite high in calories. Enjoying a small handful (about 1 ounce) as a snack or adding them to meals can provide the benefits without taking too much calories. It’s also important to be mindful of added flavors or coatings as they can increase their calorie content. Moderation and portion control are key when adding them into your weight control plan.


Nuts, Seeds And Heart Disease 

Adding nuts and seeds to your diet has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. They are are rich in heart-healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve cholesterol levels by reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. By maintaining a healthier cholesterol profile, the risk of heart disease can be lowered.

They also contain essential fats that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, reduce triglyceride levels, and support overall heart health.

Both are good sources of dietary fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol, and can contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system. High-fiber foods have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Including a variety of nuts and seeds as part of a balanced meal can have a positive impact on heart health. However, it’s important to eat them in moderation due to their calorie content. It’s also crucial to consider your dietary needs and check in with a healthcare professional for well designed advice on how you can manage heart disease or any related conditions.


Recommended Daily Serving Of Nuts

In simple words, the recommended daily serving of nuts is about a small handful, which is approximately 1 ounce or 28 grams. This can vary slightly depending on the type of nut, but as a general guideline, a portion that fits in the palm of your hand is a good reference.

Including this recommended serving amount in your diet can provide you with their health benefits, such as healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, without consuming too much calories.

Remember that nuts are calorie-filled, so it’s important to enjoy them in moderation. 

Eating more than the recommended portion may cause excess calorie intake, which can affect your weight control goals.

It’s also worth mentioning that the specific dietary recommendations for nuts may vary based on individual factors, such as overall calorie needs, health conditions, and dietary goals. 

Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to help you know the right amount of serving for your specific needs.


How To Add Nuts And Seeds To Your Diet

There are several fun ways you can add nuts and seeds in your diet to boost your intake of essential nutrients, healthy fats, and fiber. Here are some interesting ways to include them into your daily meals:

Snack on them raw

Keep a small container of mixed nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews, with you for a convenient and nutritious snack. 

Add them to your breakfast

Sprinkle a handful of chopped nuts or seeds, such as chia seeds or flaxseeds, on top of your oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothie bowl.

Mix them into salads

Toss a handful of toasted nuts or seeds, like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, into your favorite salad to get that crunch feel and flavor.

Use them in baking

Add chopped nuts, such as pecans or pistachios, to your muffins, cookies, or bread recipes. You can also sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top of baked goods.

Make nut butter or seed butter

Blend your favorite nuts, like almonds or peanuts, in a food processor until it becomes creamy to create your own homemade nut butter. You can also do the same with seeds, like sunflower seeds or tahini (sesame seed butter).


Top your meals with crushed nuts

Crush either of the two and sprinkle on top of stir-fries, roasted vegetables, or grilled chicken for added texture and flavor.


Create energy balls or bars

Combine both of them, and dried fruits in a food processor, then form them into bite-sized balls or bars, and refrigerate for a quick and nutritious snack on the go.

Use them as a coating

You can crush them to so they can be used as a coating for baked chicken or fish instead of breadcrumbs for a healthier twist.

Remember to practice portion control since they are calorie-filled. Start with small quantities and gradually increase as needed to fit your dietary requirements.


Frequently Asked Questions 

What Nuts Raise Blood Sugar?

Nuts are a healthy snack but you still need to apply care when you decide to eat them.

Peanuts, a legume that contains nuts are seemingly low in carbs, but they can also raise your blood sugar more than you’d expect it too. There is also a small amount of of added sugar in peanuts which can increase its carb-count a little, but it’s often enough to raise your blood sugar.

If you have diabetes, you should be careful with everything you eat. Nuts aren’t bad to eat as it offers health benefits. But in as much as they are good, they be should be eaten with care as they are quite high in calories. 

Which Nuts Is Best For Improving Sperm Quality? 

Eating some particular type of foods have been said to improve male fertility. According to recent findings, tree nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts have been known to boost the energy , motility and morphology of sperm. However, they shouldn’t be used as a form of treatment if there is any existing issue. 

You can always check in with a health care provider if you have questions about your body.


Take away 

Nuts and seeds are healthy and offer several health benefits. And no matter what type you choose, the most important things you should keep in mind is their quality and freshness. As much as possible, make sure you choose organic, raw and fresh ones to get all the nutritious benefits. 

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