Health Benefits of Nuts and Seeds…

At one time nuts were given a bad rap for their high fat and calorie content, but now they are known worldwide as a healthy food. Seeds, too, provide a fairly high dose of fat. Both nuts and seeds contain the heart-healthy kind of fat giving them a heart- and healthy-friendly reputation. Research has found that people who eat nuts on a regular basis have a lower risk for heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Studies have also found that nuts can lower LDL and “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. The benefits of nuts and seeds are still under the microscope, but more research and results are emerging all the time.
Nuts and seeds may be high in calories due to their fat content; however, because of their nutritional makeup, they can help to reduce hunger by making you feel full and satisfied. Moderation is the key, but nuts and seeds, along with a healthy diet and exercise, may actually help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. The fiber in nuts and seeds help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. The powerful antioxidants they provide can help to slow the aging process and lower the risk of many age-related health conditions.

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In 2003, the FDA approved a health claim on foods labels for specific nuts containing less than 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. The claim states, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The FDA-approved health claim doesn’t mean you should restrict your intake to only these types of nuts. In addition to a variety of nuts, you should include seeds, which may offer the same health benefits. The best approach to using nuts and seeds to your advantage and reaping all of their health benefits is to eat them in moderation and to eat them as a replacement for, not an addition to, foods in your diet that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats. Nuts and seeds contain quite a bit of fat, and even though most of the fat is a healthy fat, it can still add up to a lot of calories. Stick to just a handful, 1 to 2 ounces, per day. You will get all of the health benefits without getting too many of the calories.

Keep in mind that even though nuts and seeds are healthy, covering them with salt, sugar, or chocolate will cancel out most of their health benefits.

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