Body Wisdom

The nutty dilemma

Are you nuts about nuts? Love munching on them but not sure if they cause weight gain or high cholesterol as they are high in calories? What about how to eat them – roasted, peeled, raw, soaked? This article on nuts cuts through the confusion and gives you practical tips. Read on to find all about munching on these power stores.

Adding nuts to your diet is an excellent way to satiate mid-morning or sometimes late evening hunger pangs. Whether you munch on a fistful of plain nuts or sprinkle them as toppings for salads, soups, curries and desserts – including nuts in your meal can do great wonders to your diet.

These tiny powerhouses by Mother Nature are full of nutrients, nourishing minerals, unsaturated fats (the good kind of fats), and natural fibre – nuts are indeed. After all, nuts and seeds have nutrients to grow an entire plant.

However, most people are afraid to consume nuts because they think that nuts are fattening, due to their high calorific value. The truth is that you’re likely to pile on those extra kilos only when you eat a whole packet or eat them the wrong way.

Here, in today’s guide, you can find all that you need to know about these nutrient-dense foods - when to take, what to take, and how to take them.

The many positives of nuts

Take a look at the top health benefits, nuts can offer you:

  • Fibre and fats – Nuts are naturally full of fibre and are a healthy source of fats and oil. People who consume nuts regularly have a lower BMI, smaller waists and cut down those extra kilos. Thanks to the rich fibre, fats, and proteins, nuts release their energy slowly; keeping you fuelled for hours and help you avoid mindless snacking.
  • A Natural Energy Source- These are natural energy boosters. Opt for nuts instead of energy bars that are loaded with sugar, preservatives, artificial flavours, colours, etc. These are natural bodybuilders as they are protein rich, as well as calcium-rich. Hence, these are great for children in the growing up years.
  • Nutrient and mineral-rich – Apart from providing you with high energy, nuts also have several key vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, Vitamin E providing the right nourishment to every cell in your body.

But, then you would have come across the saying, “Too much of a Good Thing is a Bad Thing,” and this applies to nuts too! Before you gobble a kilo of nuts, here are a few tips to consider.

Image credit:Mehran B via Pexels

Reap the benefits of nuts without the risks

Confused with the array of conflicting information about nuts, worry not, you can use these thumb rules to guide you.

Are nuts fattening?

Nuts can be fattening, when you don’t control your portions. Remember that nuts aren’t the main meal. They work better as added supplements or as snacks. Sprinkle them on your salads, soups, curries or desserts, or divide a big bag of nuts into smaller individual portions, so that you don’t snack on them, at one go.

As with other healthy foods, the key to eating nuts is to eat them wisely. Moderation is the word. One closed fistful of mixed nuts a day is enough to give you plenty of nutrients, without overloading your body with extra calories.

Should you soak nuts before consuming them?

Phytic acid or phytates are nutrient blockers that are present in nuts. These substances bind to minerals and prevent your intestines from absorbing them. You can reduce the phytates in nuts by soaking them for a few hours. Soak nuts like almonds, cashews overnight, and then rinse and pat dry before you eat them.

Forgot to soak nuts overnight? No worries, you can still have them as it is, to enjoy their benefits. After all animals don’t soak nuts before eating them!! Nuts like pistachios, are lower in phytates and don’t require soaking.

Try to balance your nut intake, by using soaked nuts for thickening soups, gravies, in salads and for extracting nut milk. As a snack, regular roasted nuts work better, as they are more convenient to be carried on the go. If you have the time and do some pre-planning, you can carry soaked nuts or sprouted nuts too as a go-to snack.

Peeled almonds or unpeeled? Which offers better benefits?

While Ayurveda recommends that you soak almonds overnight, peel off the skin before consuming, you can still enjoy the benefits of almonds, by eating them as a whole without peeling the skin.

A common belief is that the peel often contains harmful pesticides or chemicals used by farmers. Hence removing the peel, makes them safer for consumption.

You could also buy almonds with the shell or source organic almonds or high-quality almonds and eat them securely with the peel. Again, balance is key. Use your instinct. If you are eating soaked nuts, they taste better without peel. If you are eating roasted nuts, peeling is difficult!! See what tastes better and what works better for your kids while you are feeding them nuts.

Raw or roasted? Which is the better way to eat nuts?

Raw food is definitely better, as exposure to heat may diminish the minerals and nutrients in nuts. Even if you were to roast nuts, for eg: peanuts, don’t toast them to a blackened crisp. The idea is to minimise exposure to heat, yet get the desired crunch and nutrients.

Some commercially available toasted nuts may come with additives like cheese, salt, sugar, and other flavourings, all adding extra calories. Make sure to read the ingredient list before picking a pack of nuts, and if the taste is not an issue, you can choose plain, raw wholesome nuts.

Do nuts raise the body heat and cause pimples?

Since nuts are dense foods packed with nutrition, your body may take a longer time to digest them. But, if your body is well hydrated and nourished, then eating nuts doesn’t cause any side-effects like pimples or rashes.

Again, the idea here is to listen to your body and munch on nuts in moderation.

Do nuts go bad?

Have you ever tasted a weird, bitter taste when you bite into a nut? This is what happens when the good fats in your nuts go rancid due to exposure to air. To avoid this store nuts in the fridge or in an air-tight container. This prevents the nuts from losing out nutrients or going rancid.

Buy nuts in their shells to keep them fresh for a longer time. Also, a bonus, when you buy nuts with their shells, you have to work to get them. This prevents you from over-eating them.

Do nuts boost your cholesterol levels?

This is another nut myth that is false. Nuts don’t have any LDL (Low-density cholesterol), the type that’s bad for your heart. They provide your body with HDL (high-density cholesterol) and good fats. If you are worried about your cholesterol levels, then you can cut down on processed and refined foods, and include healthy natural, wholesome foods like nuts in your diet.

Wrapping it up

Nuts are one of the best super-foods given by Mother Nature. Don’t stick with just one nut. The more the types of nuts you incorporate into your diet, you are likely to get a variety of nutrients. And, finally, remember, just like with everything else in life – nuts are best enjoyed in moderation. Follow the closed-fist measuring rule, and you can reap the benefits of nuts, without the downsides. Chew them well to avoid indigestion and overeating.

Leaving you with a few tips to add nuts in your diet:

  1. For kids – Use nut powders. Watch this video to know more.
  2. For Office goers – Carry nuts to office every day for snacking. Or better still, start a snack bar at your workstation, stocking healthy snacks such as nuts.
  3. For one & for all – Stock your kitchen with a few nut varieties, some raw and other roasted. We like to keep roasted peanuts and raw almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios and of course coconut.
    1. Eat whole, as-is: Eat as snack or add them to your veggie salads.
    2. Blend with veggies while making soup. We like to use soaked nuts, they make the soup creamier.
    3. Sprinkle nut powder on curries.
    4. Make milk & butter from nuts.
    5. Make desserts from nuts.

Recommended Read:

  1. The Top 9 nuts to eat for better health
  2. Nut fact sheets
  3. 5 best nuts for weight loss

Title image credit: Marta Branco via Pexels

Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.

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