The winter season is upon us, and one of the things synonymous with the weather turning cold, is the sudden want of cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other nuts. The embryos of various trees and plants, nuts are packed with all the nutrients necessary to grow a full plant and have been valued for their high nutritional value since pre-historic times.
On average, one serving or 30 gm of any nuts provide 160-180 calories. Packed with a wide range of vitamins especially folate and other B complex vitamins and Vitamin E, they are nutritional powerhouses. One serving (30 gm) of almonds contains about half of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin E. This nutrient is an antioxidant that is vital in protecting cell membranes from damage and helps in making red blood cells.
Nuts are also very high in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium and phosphorus. Almonds are the richest source amongst these and contain about 2 g of Iron per serving. Almonds are also a great source of Calcium. Because of these 2 nutrients, they are a great snack for adolescent girls particularly.
They also contribute significantly to our daily requirement of fiber, for example, a 30 gm serving of almonds can contain upto 4 gm of fibre. Because of their high protein content, nuts have also been found to cause satiety, that is they help to avoid over-eating. One serving (about 30 gm) of walnuts provides about 6 gm of protein.
Walnuts also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid that is known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. They contain omega 3 fatty acids too.
Although the fat content of nuts is high, the fat contained is largely the poly-unsaturated kind, which is heart friendly. Studies have shown that those with high cholesterol were able to cause a reduction by adding walnuts to their diet. Nuts have also been associated with a lower risk of stroke as well as an aid in weight management.
However, it is important to try and consume un-flavoured and raw nuts rather than roasted or salted ones as these have high content of added fat and salt.