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Adding Nutrition Through Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are very popular as well as healthy and nutritious snack among individuals. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. In addition to being excellent sources of protein, nuts and seeds have many other benefits, they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and other chemicals that may prevent cancer and heart disease. Although many people are hesitant to eat nuts because they are high in fat, eating nuts can provide a sense of fullness or satisfaction that actually causes you to eat less of other high-calorie, high fat foods. Eating nuts and seeds are a great way to add vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids (like omega 3 and omega 6), to your diet. Some great choices include almonds, cashews, flaxseeds (ground), peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

Some of the healthiest seeds and nuts along with their benefits are as follows-:

Almonds – Almonds are preferably high in PUFA, with a total of 12.1 grams per 100 grams, most of it is omega-6 fatty acid. They are a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and riboflavin. There are certain wild almonds which are highly toxic due to the presence of a compound that breaks into cyanide but modern domesticated almonds don’t contain that compound. Eating almonds can lower bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, provide protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, boost energy, and help to prevent gallstones. Whole almonds (with skins) provide the most heart-healthy benefits.

Cashews – Cashews are high in antioxidants and have a lower fat content than most other nuts. These are moderately low in PUFA, with a total of 7.8 grams per 100 grams most of it is omega-6 fatty acid. Cashews are also a good source of monounsaturated fats, copper, magnesium and phosphorous. Eating cashews promotes good cardiovascular health, even in individuals with diabetes.

Walnuts – Walnuts are very high in PUFA with a total of 47.2 grams per 100 grams with a fair amount of omega 3 fatty acid. They are a good source of magnesium, manganese and copper. Eating walnuts may benefit your cardiovascular system, improve cholesterol in individuals with type 2 diabetes, help brain functions, protect bone health, and help to prevent gallstones. Walnuts also have bio-available melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology(Oct. 17, 2006) found that eating walnuts after a meal high in unhealthy fats can reduce the damaging effects of such fats on blood vessels. Walnuts also contain l-arginine, which is an essential amino acid that the body uses to produce nitric oxide, necessary for keeping blood vessels flexible.

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