Q & A Thursday: NUTS!
Posted by kathryn in Nuts & seeds
Paul has asked about nuts:
I do like snacking on nuts and I probably like them all. From a nutritional viewpoint, (assuming non salted and non toasted/dressed are best) which varieties are particularly beneficial? Is a selection better than one single type?
Nuts are a wonderful, wonderful food. They’re high in protein (15 – 25%) and also contain useful amounts of fibre, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, along with some B vitamins and antioxidants.
Nuts are also high in fat (between 40 and 50%, depending on the nut), although they contain the heart-healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.
Different nuts have quite different nutrient profiles. For example, brazil nuts are particularly high in thiamin (B1) and the antioxidant mineral selenium, cashews are heavier in magnesium and zinc, almonds contain a lot more calcium and vitamin E, while pistachios have lots of plant sterols (which help lower cholesterol).
Which nuts to eat
All the nuts are good for you, but they’re all different and have different nutritional strengths and weaknesses. Therefore a mixture is the best option, to ensure you’re covering all the nutritional bases. Most cheaper nut blends are predominantly peanuts, so it’s worthwhile spending a bit more money for a good quality mixture, or alternatively, make up your own.
Always buy raw nuts (ie unsalted and un-roasted) and also keep them in the fridge – their high poly-unsaturated fat content means they turn rancid very quickly. Alternatively, buy larger quantities from high-turnover retailers and keep them in the freezer until needed.
How many nuts to eat
As I mentioned before, nuts are high in fat and while it’s the lovely poly-and mono-unsaturated fats, they can still impact your total kilojoule intake. They’re good for you, but there is such a thing as having too many nuts, so keep your daily intake to a contained amount – about 30g. This is about a palmful (one layer deep) of nuts.
Nuts are one of those foods it’s really easy to over-eat – you open a packet, or empty them into a large jar and then just mindlessly gnaw away at them, while doing other things. To avoid this, work out how many you want to eat each day and actually put that 30g amount aside as your daily nut allocation.
How to use nuts
To be honest, I’m a bit unimaginative with nuts. I either add them to stirfrys, use them as a snack or sprinkle them on my breakfast and that’s about it.
I’d love to know if you have any more exciting ways to use nuts.