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Nuts about health

Eating nuts for your health

Nowadays nuts are well known for their super health benefits as they are full of heart-friendly omega 3 fats, rich in protein and fibre and a brilliant source of vitamins and minerals. Nuts also have a low - GI (Glycemic index) rating, meaning they slow down carbohydrate digestion and prevent blood sugar highs and lows, leaving you feeling energised for longer.

So here is a guide to the best nuts to get munching on. Just remember eat no more than a handful per day – this is enough to satisfy your appetite and keep you healthy.

Walnuts have a high content of a type of omega 3 fat that has the ability to thin the blood, helping prevent clots and arteries. Their high omega 3 fat content also means that they are good fuel for the brain.

Brazil Nuts are especially high in selenium which is not always easy to find in the UK diet. Selenium’s anti oxidant effect is though to protect against cancer in 2 ways: by preventing damage to cells and by stimulating the immune system.

Pistachios are a good all-rounder, being high in potassium (good for blood pressure), calcium (for healthy bones and teeth) and vitamin E (for good skin). What’s more they contain natural plant sterols which help to protect the heart.

Pecans are a good source of vitamin E and also contain potassium and magnesium. The latter works with calcium to make strong bones and potassium helps regulate blood pressure by balancing the effects of sodium (salt) that can contribute to high blood pressure.

Cashews come top of the nut ranks in the iron stakes. So this is an important food source for preventing conditions such as anaemia and also for maintaining energy levels.

American researches have just published a study showing that just a handful of Macadamia nuts a day for 5 weeks can lower raised cholesterol levels and improve the ratio of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body.

Almonds contain more fibre and vitamin E than any other nut. They are also rich in calcium. Cooks can use ground almonds as a substitute for flour in some recipes – they are perfect for making wheat or gluten free cakes.

Peanuts are not true nuts but legumes like a pea or bean. However nutritionally they compare to nuts as, in their unsalted form, they are a rich source of chromium (valuable mineral for regulating blood sugar levels).

So there are lots of reasons to try a new variety every week!

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