When you are hungry in between meals, while traveling or exercising and you need to replenish your energy, what do you reach for? A bag of chips? A candy bar? Cookies? Yikes! None of these offer much in terms of nutritional benefit. It goes without saying these foods are high in sugar and contain disease-causing inflammatory oils. If you want the most nutritious “bang for your buck,” reach for some nuts or seeds and a piece of your favorite fresh or dried fruit.
- Nuts and seeds contain protein, good carbs, and healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
- They are a good source of many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamin E, selenium and magnesium .
- People who eat a low-calorie diet that includes almonds have a 62 percent greater reduction in their weight/body mass index, a 50 percent greater reduction in waist circumference, and a 56 percent greater reduction in body fat compared to people eating complex carbs.
- Nuts are also associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
- Walnuts have been shown to lower cholesterol, improve blood vessel elasticity and may slow or prevent breast and prostate cancer.
- When pregnant women eat nuts more than once a week, their children are 21 percent less likely to develop asthma. When children reach seven years of age, the decrease in allergy likelihood drops to 34 percent.
The best nuts and seeds to eat are raw or dry roasted. Avoid the ones roasted in sunflower, peanut, cottonseed or other inflammatory oils as these will negate the heart healthy benefits of the nut.
If you want an even more nutritious nut, buy activated nuts (available at Whole Foods) or make them yourself. Take raw nuts and soak them in purified water for 12 hours. Soaking them removes phytic acid from the nut. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals. Soaking also triggers the nut to begin germination which further increases the nutrition of the nut and can make them much easier to digest. After soaking, allow them to dry or place in a food dehydrator.
Along with a handful of nuts or seeds (about 1/4 cup), add a piece of your favorite fruit (also high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber) or a couple tablespoons of dried fruit.