Nuts for You -Nutritional Facts
Nutrition Data - Compare Nuts
Nuts provide excellent health and nutrition properties. In 2003, the FDA recognized the benefit of nuts and their role in heart disease prevention by approving a health claim for 7 kinds of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts).
These seven nuts were approved as they are the only kinds that contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. Now that Christmas is almost here this is the season where more nuts are consumed. I did not know all the benefits of nuts until I did this research.
They are also used in weight loss programs as diet food since they have mono-saturated fats (which are the healthy fats our body needs) and they can be substituted for other sources of protein.
Nutritional Data Comparison
Nutrients in 1 Ounce (28 grams) of Shelled Tree Nuts and Peanuts
Nuts 1 oz./28 grams------ Calories--Protein--Fat Total--Sat-Mono-Poly
- Almonds-- 20-24--------160---------- 6--------14--------1------ 9------3
- Brazil nuts-- 6-8--------190---------- 4---------19-------5-------7------7
- Cashews-- 16-18-------160---------- 4---------13-------3------ 8-------2
- Hazelnuts-- 18-20------180-----------4---------17------1.5----13-------2
- Macadamias-10-12-----200---------- 2--------22-------3------17----- 5
- Peanuts------28----------170---------- 7--------14--------2------7-------4
- Pecans--18-20 halves---200--------- 3--------20--------2----- 12------6
- Pine nuts--50-157-------160----------7--------14------- 2-------5------6
- Pistachios-- 45-47-------160----------6--------13-------1.5------7------4
- Walnuts----14 halves---- 190--------- 4--------18-------1.5----2.5---13
Source: Adapted from the International Tree Nut Council Research and Education Foundation publications, Nutrients in 1 Ounce of Tree Nuts and Peanuts, January 2003 and Nutrition in Every http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftmar04.htmHandful, August 2002
All the nuts are unsalted.
The almond tree is a small deciduous tree, native to mineral rich West Asia mountain ranges that provide an optimum environment, but in recent years they are being cultivated in many areas.
Almonds have become very popular with vegetarians and many foods include almonds as in cereals, almond butter and of course, there is almond milk. This is very good for lactose intolerant individuals.
As with most nuts, almonds are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, plus they are packed with phyto-chemicals. They help prevent diseases and cancers. They are a rich source of energy as well. They help to lower your LDL, which is the bad cholesterol, thus helping to prevent heart disease. They are an excellent source of vitamin E. They are free of gluten which makes them healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergies and celiac disease. They are also packed with important B-complex group of vitamins. They are a rich emollient which helps keep skin well protected from dryness. Just a handful a day will give you enough recommended levels of minerals, vitamins and protein. Also, the oil extracted from these nuts has been used as a base or carrier in medicine, aromatherapy and in pharmaceuticals.
Benefits of almonds
Hazelnuts are known as Filberts or Cob nuts depending on their country of origin. They contain a high proportional balance of essential oils and supply a well-balanced mixture of vitamins and minerals. Hazelnuts are a good source of energy with their 60.5% fat content.
Hazelnuts contain vitamin A, a natural antioxidant, only contained by a few nuts. They are number one in folate content which is responsible for decreased risk of birth defects. Hazelnuts are rich in minerals, particularly in manganese, selenium and zinc. The minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium from hazelnuts help to lower cholesterol. Hazelnuts contain nearly 75 percent mono-unsaturated fat and less than 4 percent saturated fat.
The Pistachio Principle
Pistacios and Tree
Pistachio is a fruit with a dry, hard, outer egg shaped shell, with a tasty kernel inside. After plantation, the plant takes approximately eight to ten years until it produces its first major crop. The pistachio trees grow about 10 meters high on an average. It is a desert plant, which explains its origin in western Asia. The pistachio nut is a culinary nut. Pistachio trees grow well, even in high salinity soil. Every pistachio tree doles out about 50 kg of Pistachio seeds every year.
These nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid. After much research, it has been found that, consumption of pistachios reduces the amount of cholesterol in blood. Pistachio consumption also reduces the stress related, elevated blood pressure levels, by as much as 10%. Pistachios are storehouses of important anti-oxidants which can prevent the damage to the cells of the body. Higher anti-oxidant levels in the body reduce cell death and risk of cancer.
The anti-oxidants present in pistachios are vitamin A, vitamin E and Lutein. Lutein is very good for your eyes helping to prevent macular degeneration. It is also a rich source of proteins, which help in building up of the body. Half a cup of pistachios can supply adequate quantities of some of the most important minerals required by the body like calcium, iron, magnesium and copper.
The Brazil nut is a large tree, reaching 30–45 meters (100–150 ft) tall and 1–2 meters (3–6.5 ft) trunk diameter, among the largest of trees in the Amazon Rain forest. It may live for 500 years or more, and according to some authorities often reaches an age of 1,000 years.Recent research suggests that proper selenium intake is correlated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer.
As well as, its food use, Brazil nut oil is also used as a lubricant in clocks, for making artist’s paints and in the cosmetics industry
Nuts Gift Baskets for Christmas
Pecans are nuts that come from the only true Native American tree. Eating about a handful of pecans each day may play a role in protecting the nervous system, according to a new animal study published in Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research. The study, conducted at the Center for Cellular Neurobiology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, suggests adding pecans to your diet may delay the progression of age-related motor neuron degeneration. This may include diseases like amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Researchers have found that the vitamin E, a natural antioxidant found in pecans, may provide a key element to neurological protection shown in the study. New research, published in the August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research, shows that adding a handful of pecans to your diet each day may help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids which will help prevent heart disease. Pecans contain different forms of vitamin E, which protects blood lipids from oxidation.
Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (June 2004) found that pecans rank the highest among all nuts and in the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity. Therefore, pecans may decrease the risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Also, nuts like pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance. The studies indicate that nut consumption may increase metabolic rates and enhance satiety
Pecan shells are usually thought of as trash, and most of the time they end up in the garbage. Most people don’t know that the pecan shells are a great addition to the compost pile. If the nuts are nutritious to our body, the pecan shells can be a good source of nutrition for the soil too. This is definitely an eco-friendly way to fill a land.
Walnut Branch and Whole Nuts
Walnuts for Health and Nutrition
Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants and Vitamin E. Nuts in general are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and fatty acids- the good fats) that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, in particular, have significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids as compared to other nuts.
More than a decade of scientific evidence shows that incorporating walnuts in a healthy diet reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood vessel elasticity and plaque accumulation. Walnuts have also been shown to aid in the lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the C - reactive protein (CRP). CRP was recently recognized as an independent marker and predictor of heart disease.
A proper serving size of walnuts is 1 oz. which is 14 nuts. If you overindulge, as in eating a whole cup of walnuts, that would be akin to eating a quarter-pounder McDonalds’s Big Mac or 3 pieces of cheesecake. People who ate the correct amount, however, were 3 times more likely to lose weight and stick to their diet. A Harvard study also found that women who at five or more servings per wee were 30% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. One cup of chopped walnuts contains 200% of the daily manganese which normalizes blood sugar, helps the thyroid gland function properly, and is linked to better bone health.
The researchers reported that blood flow in the brachial artery of the arm, (flow-mediated dilation) increased 24% in the subjects with high cholesterol after they ate the walnut-containing meal, while the olive oil-containing meal actually resulted in a 36% decrease in blood flow.
Walnuts Harvest & Processing
Macadamia nuts are similar to the other nuts, as they are high energy and they contain a 78% monosaturated fat which is highest of any oil including olive oil. They are a great source of protein, calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and they are high in arginine. They also have a wide range of minerals similar to the other nuts. They have the phytonutrients which are the derivatives of vitamin E that help prevent disease. Can you get fat from eating these nuts? It is the same story, eat these delicious nuts in moderation, and use these nuts as a substitute for some other protein source in your diet.
Peanuts and Peanut Plants
Peanuts -Last but Not Least
Peanuts are the only nuts we are covering that aren’t grown in trees, but are part of the legume family. People who eat peanuts tend to take in more key nutrients critical to health. It was found that levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber were higher than those who did not consume peanuts.
Peanuts also provide unique bioactive components that act as antioxidants and have been shown to prevent disease. Arginine, an amino acid that is high in peanuts, is a precursor to nitric oxide, which helps expand blood vessels and can decrease blood pressure. Resveratrol, also improves longevity and performance, and reduces inflammation.
When peanuts are eaten in small amounts daily they reduce the risk of many diseases. Peanuts also have significant levels of phytosterols. Phytosterols are well known for their ability to reduce cholesterol and new research is showing that they are cancer-preventative. Flavonoids are a class of compounds also found in peanuts that reduce inflammation and inhibit platelets from sticking to arteries.
They also help manage weight and provide key nutrients important in our diet. They have been shown to reduce chronic diseases that include heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter have been shown to have potent lipid lowering effects and may act to reduce inflammation, which is one of the underlying mechanisms that trigger chronic disease.
In 2005, the US dietary guidelines for dieting were changed and the fat recommendation was increased up to 35% with a lower limit of 20%. Studies have shown that diets with higher fat content can be more fulfilling to some and easier to follow. The “Pounds Lost Study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 showed that peanuts and peanut butter could fit into low-fat, moderate fat, and high-fat diets
Obviously it is hard to go wrong eating some type of nut at least five times a week, as they are packed with so many things our bodies need to prevent disease. There is enough variety in nuts to suit most anyone’s taste.
Nuts are great to snack on when you get that gnawing feeling in your stomach in the middle of the day between meals. They are wonderful to use in your baking or cooking and there are probably thousands of healthy recipes for nuts. You are adding some valuable nutrients to your family’s diet. You could give a nut gift basket for Christmas to someone as nuts provide such excellent health and nutrition properties.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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