Who Knew?

3 nuts to include in your diet

An aspect which I discover in my study of the balance of the Indian diet, which most people have forgotten is the importance of good fat. And the sad part is people just believe that it’s the fat in food that makes you unhealthy and obese and they shun good quality fat and continue gobbling up a hand full of chips or a fried jalebi which is only a nutrient robber, a disease-creator. 50 gms of any fried sweet or savory would be a minimum 500 calorie. But we keep eating them daily or occasionally and if you are asked to munch on nuts which could be 150 to 200 calories maximum, nutrient rich food good for the heart, loaded with antioxidants disease-preventing wonder food, I  remember my  fathers  words  on  how  we  snack  on  junk  dead  food  and  how  his  mother  use to  give  him  a  handful  of  nuts  to  snack  on. Our grand mother had naturally healthy skin. What was the secret behind it? They did not snack on junk food. They snacked on healthy nuts.

Consuming a diet consisting of plant-based foods can be a healthy way of eating. Incorporating nuts into meals and snacks is a simple, tasty and convenient way to help insure adequate protein intake, especially among vegetarians.

It’s the  time  of  feasting with  the  festive  season  beginning  Diwali  and then  the  marriage season  parties  Christmas  and  New  year - food,  food  and  more  food, high  calorific  sugar laden  bombing  our  brains  blasting  our  health  and  our  waistlines. Dear  Reader  let  me  make  you  read  through  the  benefit  of  some  commonly  used  nuts.

PISTACHIOS
Most people are so scared to eat pistachios that they feel that it is junk food which raises the cholesterol and the weight and like junk its nutrient dead. Have you observed this? And have you seen like when there are pistachios around, something wonderful happens: everyone gets busy cracking open pistachios. This is not because it’s a junk food that we just gobble it down but it is something that the body is craving to have. That's because they're packed with a powerful, flavorful crunch. And, they fill you up naturally - without bringing your body down.


 An interesting thing about these nuts is that they are lower in fat and calories than the other nuts. Thus, they make an excellent snack. Besides, they are often used in gravies, pastes, pates and garnishes. A mere 100g of pistachios contain 19.3g protein, 14mg iron, 140mg calcium. Iron assists in the process of respiration and energy, increases red blood cells. Also, 30 pistachios (imagine this amount in your hand!) contain only 100 calories.

They are extremely nutritious with high levels of protein and vitamins. They are packed with vitamin B6 as well as vitamin A. Over the years studies have shown that diets rich in pistachios can lower cholesterol levels, reduce incidents of heart attacks and, most recently, it has been discovered that pistachios help keep blood glucose levels normalized.

We all need some fat in our diets. Fats add flavor. The trick is to choose foods that contain good fats(unsaturated) as compared to bad fats(saturated). Pistachios contain almost 90% unsaturated fats. They are among the highest fibre, lowest calorie nuts.
As a matter of fact, A one ounce serving of pistachios scores higher on antioxidants than a cup of green tea!
Studies show that pistachio nuts essentially reduce the expression of the inflammatory gene IFN which stimulates your fat burning response by 78% apparently. Pistachios are an anti-inflammatory bomb which is great for your overall health.

One of the nicest facts abut these nuts is that it contains fiber. Because of its fiber content, the pistachio is also extremely low in the glycemic index. This means that a smaller amount will keep you fuller for a longer time. As mentioned earlier, 30 pistachios contain only 100 calories.

So kick up your metabolic rate and health quotient replace your junk food with wonderful pistachios!

WALNUTS
Just observe the shape, so similar to a brain. It’s amazing that it contains a good quantity of omega 3 fat which is actually essential for the brain. No wonder walnuts are revered since ancient times as symbol of intellectuality since their kernels have convoluted surface inside the shell resembling as that of brain. Walnuts are rich source of energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Walnuts differ from other nuts as they are predominantly rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) like oleic acid and an excellent source of all important omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

hytonutrients
 In the thousands of years since humans became farmers, we've unwittingly bred the nutrition out of our food, removing from it compounds called phytonutrients. Only now are we realizing ... more 
hytonutrients
 In the thousands of years since humans became farmers, we've unwittingly bred the nutrition out of our food, removing from it compounds called phytonutrients. Only now are we realizing that these naturally occurring, plant-protecting chemicals can likely help us, too. "Early studies show that phytonutrient-rich fruits and vegetables have the potential to reduce our risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, boost our energy, and slow down the aging process," says Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side. "Each fruit and vegetable has hundreds of phytonutrients. That's why people are so excited about them." But not all foods are created equal - you'll get radically different nutritional punch from varieties of corn, apples, lettuce, onions and more. less 
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Yahoo Lifestyle | Photo by Thinkstock
Wed 10 Jul, 2013 8:30 AM IST
Eating a handful of walnuts tastes great, and is a heart-healthy addition to your diet. More than a decade of scientific evidence shows that incorporating walnuts in a healthy diet reduces the risk of all major diseases like cardiovascular, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, asthma and arthritis.

In 2003, the FDA recognized the benefits of nuts. In response to a petition filed by the California Walnut Commission, the FDA further endorsed the health benefits of walnuts by approving the following health claim in March 2004:

"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 42.5 gm of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

In addition to antioxidants and essential ALA/omega-3 fatty acids, Walnuts contain 3% to 4% water, 15% to 20% protein, 10% of your daily value of magnesium and phosphorus. The mineral content includes iron and zinc, sodium, selenium, calcium, potassium and copper. Vitamins E and C also are found in walnut.
Walnuts also contain numerous other vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of magnesium (11% daily value) and phosphorus (10% daily value) – both important minerals involved in the body’s processes and necessary for achieving optimal wellness.

Considering the nutrients found in walnuts, 25 – 30 grams or about a handful is an easy way to improve your overall nutrient intake. Walnuts have been identified as a nutrient dense food choice on several nutrient density ranking scales. The convenience, flavour and versatility of walnuts combined with their nutrient profile make them an ideal, economical ingredient and snack. In addition, walnuts are naturally gluten free! Quite popular world over are California walnuts.

ALMONDS
Mothers are constantly telling to have nuts especially almonds. These nuts have every good quality fat which is require for healthy brain functioning as well as good digestion. When the digestive system works beautifully and there is no constipation, automatically the skin will be clearer. Almonds being low in glycemic index would keep you full for a longer time and prevent bingeing.

Almonds are of 2 types: American and Iranian (known as mamra in India). The Iranian nuts have a slight bitter property and are also known to combat cancer. The American almonds are flat and broad and are used more commonly. The Iranian ones are slightly thin curved and pointy. One could choose either.

Almonds are good quality fat. All nuts are zero in cholesterol. The bitter almond known as mamra or Iranian almond has cancer fighting properties. The almond of the dried apricot is very healing too.

This nut is high in calcium, a mineral needed for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It is also rich in iron which aids in the synthesis of haemoglobin which makes it a useful remedy for anemia.

Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which which reduces the risk of cardiac diseases, cancer and cataract. They also have monounsaturated fat which has proven to be advantageous in preventing cardiovascular diseases as well as reducing the level of LDL cholesterol.

Almonds are an excellent laxative. They contain a good amount of dietary fibre, making it beneficial in the treatment of constipation.

It is also loaded with protein and low in carbohydrates, making it an ideal snack for everyone including diabetics, as it has the added benefit of being low in the glycemic index. It regulates blood sugar fluctuations.

Almonds were considered as “fattening”. But this is just a myth. Studies have shown that eating them in moderation can lower the risk of weight gain. The monounsaturated fat present in almonds results in one feeling satiated for a longer period of time preventing you from overeating. About 12 almonds contain 100 calories and are a good healthy snack instead of munching on a packet of chips.

After having seen the good this tiny nut can do for you, I’m sure you will remember to eat a couple of them everyday!!

So if you have a handful of nuts daily you will only consume maximum 200 calories and brilliant fats daily. So lets intelligently and add nuts daily.

Naini Setalvad
Obesity and Lifestyle Disease Consultant
After journeying from 160 kilos to 60 kilos, Naini steers people to love good food that’s good for us at Mumbai and Rajkot center and across   the country via articles and talks on health.
www.nainisetalvad.com