May 19 2019

Why are nuts and seeds so good for us?  

Published by at 12:26 pm under General

Why are nuts and seeds so good for us?
These simple whole foods are your key to long term health.*

Last time we talked about different types of fiber and the importance of getting plenty of whole grains, nuts and seeds in our diets. These whole foods provide excellent fiber, as well as bountiful other nutrients, fat and protein. Based on recent research, eating too few whole grains, nuts and seeds is an underlying reason, according to researchers, for millions of people developing such chronic diseases as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancers. Surprisingly, studies conducted on nuts, have revealed they don’t really affect weight gain or weight loss. But they have found that people who do eat nuts live longer than those who don’t, by helping to reduce such risk factors as metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. (1,2,3)*

So why are they so good for us? Let’s look at the different types of nuts and seeds available out there and their nutritional value.(1,2)*

For example, one serving of almonds, which is approximately 28 grams/1 ounce (or a small handful) contains 3.5 grams of fiber, 37% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E, and 19% of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Many studies suggest an almond rich diet can reduce bad or LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol which are particularly harmful to heart health. In addition, eating a serving of almonds with a meal may help lower the rise in blood sugar by as much as 30% as well as reduce inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes.  Almonds also positively affect the gut microbiome by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including bifidobacteria and lactobacillus.3*

Hazelnuts are also high in fiber with 3.5 grams per 28 grams per serving and 37% of Vitamin E and 20% magnesium They were found, according to one study, to reduce total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Eating hazelnuts  also lowered markers of inflammation and improved blood vessel function. 3*

Pistachios are also high in fiber, with 3 grams per 28 gram serving. They also have Vitamin E and magnesium, and 6 grams of protein. Like almonds, they can help to improve cholesterol levels.3*

Peanuts while not a tree nut, but a legume, are also high in fiber and have 21% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E and  11% of Magnesium. 3*

Pecans have 2.5 grams of fiber per serving and have shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol in people with normal cholesterol levels. They contain polyphenols, compounds that act as antioxidants. 3*

Walnuts have 2 grams of fiber per serving and are high in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) This helps reduce total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol which increases good HDL cholesterol levels. Diets high in walnuts seem to improve a number of heart disease risk factors which may be due to their high content of ALA. A study of college students found that eating walnuts has beneficial effects on the brain as it seemed to improve their inferential reasoning.3*

Brazil nuts, originate from the Amazon and are very high in selenium. Just one serving provides 100% of the amount of selenium needed. Brazil nuts have a great antioxidant affect. They decrease cholesterol levels, and improve blood vessel function and reduce oxidative stress along with inflammation. 3*

Macadamia nuts have 2.5 grams of fiber and are very high in monounsaturated fat, making them an excellent part of a heart healthy diet. 3*

Cashews, while they contain less fiber per serving (only 1 gram), contain other important nutrients and studies indicate they improve blood lipid levels and reduce blood pressure.3*

Seeds are another excellent source of fiber. They also contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.4*

Adding seeds to your diet can also help reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar. Here are some nutritional facts about seeds:  .

Flaxseeds: These are also known as linseeds. They are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fats, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).The omega-3 fats are contained within the fibrous outer shell of the seed, so grinding flax seeds helps to get the full benefit of the omega-3s. Flax seeds are high in fiber with 7.8 grams of fiber and 5.2 grams of protein. They pack 6.5 grams of omega -3 fats and 1.7 grams of omega 6 fatty acids. Additionally, they are high in manganese, thiamine (vitamin b1 and magnesium. Flaxseeds also contain polyphenols, which are beneficial antioxidants for the body. Getting plenty of flaxseeds in your diet helps reduce cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors to include high blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar levels. One study showed eating flaxseeds may “…reduce markers of tumor growth in women with breast cancer and may also reduce cancer risk…” 4*

Chia seeds, are similar to flaxseeds because they are also good sources of fiber and omega-3 fats, along with a number of other nutrients. One serving, contains 10.6 grams of fiber, 4.4 grams of protein along with high levels of thiamine, magnesium and manganese. Like flaxseeds, chia seeds also contain a number of important antioxidant polyphenols.4*

Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are complete protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make. One serving provides a whopping 8 grams of protein.  One study found that taking hem seed oil supplements for 20 weeks helped people with eczema experienced less dry skin and itchiness. 4*

Sesame seeds are commonly eaten in Asia. One serving contains 3.3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of Omega-6 fats, along with high levels of copper, manganese and magnesium. They contain a lot of lignans, with one in particular called sesamin. Studies have shown that sesamin gets converted by the gut bacteria into another type of lignin called enterolactone, which can act like the sex hormone estrogen. Low levels of  lignans in the body have been associated with  heart disease and breast cancer.  “…One study found that postmenopausal women who ate 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for five weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol and improved sex hormone status…”4*

Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can worsen symptoms of many disorders, including arthritis.4*

Pumpkin seeds are one of the most popular seeds and are an excellent source of omega-6 fats, monounsaturated fats and phosphorus. One serving contains 1.7 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. They are a good source of phytosterols, which help lower blood cholesterol, reduce breast cancer, and even reduce the risk of getting bladder stones in children by reducing levels of calcium in the urine. Other studies have shown pumpkin seed oil to improve symptoms of prostate and urinary disorders.4*

Sunflower seeds contain 2.4 grams of fiber, 5.8 grams of protein along with a good amount of monounsaturated fat, Omega-6 fats, Vitamin E, Manganese and Magnesium. They are associated with reduced inflammation in middle-aged to older people, reducing the risk of heart disease.4*

Don’t be fooled thinking that nut milks are a substitute for eating the actual nut or seed. While they are a good alternative to dairy, they are NOT a substitute for eating whole nuts and seeds! Many contain a very small amount of the actual nut or seed, and rather a lot of water.*

Here are a few tips for fitting in more fiber, nuts and seeds into your diet.

For breakfast choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal, something that contains 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.  Choose whole oats or steel cut oats and add nuts and seeds along with some banana. Choose whole grain, seeded bread for your toast. Add nuts and fruit to your pancakes. Top fresh fruit with some yogurt and nuts. Add seeds to your smoothies. Mash up some avocado and put it on Ezekiel toast and top that with pistachios. *

For lunch, top your salads with nuts and seeds, or even add sesame seeds to your sandwiches. One of my favorite salads is spinach, walnuts, mandarin oranges and avocado with citrus vinaigrette. Avocado, tomato, sprouts and sunflower seeds on a sandwich are delicious.*

For dinner, use brown rice or wild rice as opposed to white rice, and use your blender to make a nut sauce to top off your vegetables. There are great recipes on the internet. Use tahini on steamed vegetables or as a spread. Make a lentil soup or other vegetable soup and sprinkle with  nuts. Once you start adding nuts and seeds to all your meals, you will get hooked.*  

Snacks: Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, a hand full of seeds or nuts are an excellent, high energy snack. Try grabbing those before a high calorie, low nutritional value cookie or chips. It’s a great way to get your healthy dose of nuts and seeds, and will help you manage your weight and get your seed and nut intake also.*

 

Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water! And be sure to continue with your daily intake of Body Biotics™ Bio-identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™. Keeping the gut healthy, will only help with the nutritional absorption of all these healthy foods.*

 

Healthiest wishes,

 

Kelli

www.bodybiotics.com

 

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190403193702.htm
  2. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains-why.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-healthy-nuts
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-healthiest-seeds#section1

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