Know your nuts
Nuts. They might be one of the fattiest foods around, but they’re also one of the healthiest, which puts them right at the top of our #snackhappy agenda. According to scientific studies, indulging in a daily handful helps reduce our risk of cancer and heart disease, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and curb hunger. Read on to discover which nuts you should be chowing down on to reap maximum benefit from your snack time. Just don’t eat the whole packet…
Almonds (183 calories per 30g serving)
Rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamin E, almonds will help you maintain bone strength, combat PMS and delay cognitive decline. Soak them overnight to optimise their benefits.
Walnuts (207 calories per 30g serving)
According to US scientists, the walnut has the highest antioxidant levels of any nut, making it your number one snack choice. They’re top of the crop when it comes to lowering cholesterol.
Cashews (175 calories per 30g serving)
Incredibly, a serving of cashew nuts contains twice as much iron as a serving of minced beef. Eaten regularly, they’ll help prevent anaemia. Accompany your daily handful with a small glass of orange juice – vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron. Cashews are also rich in zinc, which supports the immune system.
Brazil nuts (206 calories per 30g serving)
Brazil nuts are the richest natural source of selenium. Just two a day could reduce your risk of death from cancer. They’re also a great source of magnesium – essential for muscle, nerve and immune function, the mineral also keeps bones strong and heart rhythm steady.
Peanuts (178 calories per 30g serving)
Peanuts are a rich source of niacin, or vitamin B3, which helps the body convert energy from food, and biotin, which promotes healthy hair, skin and nail growth. 30g of salted peanuts contains less salt than an average slice of bread – so it’s better to eat salted nuts than none at all.
Hazelnuts (197 calories per 30g serving)
Hazelnuts are one of the richest natural dietary sources of vitamin E, which guards against free radical damage linked with cancer, heart disease and arthritis. They’re also high in fibre, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, biotin and monounsaturated fats, making them a great all-round health and beauty booster.
Macadamia nuts (225 calories per 30g serving)
Go easy on these if you’re watching your weight – with 23.3g fat per 30g serving, macadamia nuts are particularly high in fat. On the plus side, this is mostly of the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety. They’re also rich in manganese, which promotes healthy bones and joints and helps protect against free radical damage.
Chestnuts (51 calories per 30g serving)
With just 0.8g fat and 51 calories per 30g serving, chestnuts are a great choice for slimmers. Look out for vacuum-sealed packs of ready-prepared chestnuts to get around the tricky, time-consuming job of peeling them.
Pistachios (181 calories per 30g serving)
A good source of calcium, iron, zinc and fibre, pistachios are also high in the carotenoids alpha- and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against UV damage and guard against macular degeneration.
Pecans (208 calories per 30g serving)
Rich in cholesterol-reducing monounsaturates, pecans also have a high zinc content, which supports the body’s immune system and promotes wound healing. Low levels of zinc can hinder your ability to taste and smell properly, so a handful of pecans a day could make your other meals more enjoyable, too!
If plain nuts aren’t your thing, try spicing them up with this recipe from nutritionist Anita Bean…
- 100g mixed nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, pecans)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground cumin
Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Mix together the ingredients with ½ tsp salt and pepper. Roast on a baking tray for 15 mins, tossing occasionally, until nuts are golden.
Per 25g serving: 186 calories, 17g fat, 4g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 0.5g salt, 0.7g fibre
Nuts for nuts? Share your favourite snack ideas with us on Twitter @healthymag using the hashtag #snackhappy