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What is the right amount of nuts to eat?

While nuts may have a number of heart health benefits, it must be remembered that around 75-80% of the composition of a nut is fat. Consuming a large quantity of nuts can be unhealthy, and it recommended that it be consumed in moderation.

There are currently no guidelines in India on how much nuts to consume everyday. However, the American Heart Association recommends eating 3 to 4 servings (each serving is a small handful) of unsalted nuts every week. This regime must be accompanied by a healthy diet and exercise, otherwise the benefits cannot be reaped. For example, eating a hazelnut chocolate bar will not give you the benefits of eating nuts, as they will be nullified by the chocolate that you have with it.

Are there good and bad nuts?

Most of the nuts that are currently available on the market are good. However, when consuming nuts, try to avoid the ‘roasted’ ones, as they add oils to these when roasting them. This can increase their fat content. In addition, salt is also added to roasted nuts, making them a bad snack choice for those suffering from high blood pressure.

Amongst the best nuts available, almonds, cashew, peanuts and pistachio nuts come out on the top. They are packed with plenty of protein and healthy fats. Here are some interesting numbers for you –

1. Almonds

  • Rich in calcium that keeps teeth and bones strong
  • Have high content of vitamin E that maintains skin health
  • Are rich in flavonoids – compounds that protect the heart through their anti-oxidant properties
  • Have high levels of arginine – a compound that is responsible for the production of nitric oxide in the body. nitric oxide helps keep the blood vessels healthy.

2. Cashew nuts

cashew

  • High levels of protein
  • Rich in zinc and iron that can maintain blood health
  • Rich in magnesium, that aids memory and maintains good bowel health
  • Unfortunately, they are high in saturated fats, so keep intake to a minimum

3. Pistachios

Pista

  • Rich in levels on vitamin B6, which promotes healthy hormone production
  • High levels of antioxidants such as lutein
  • High levels of potassium
  • Rich in fiber
  • May prevent the development of lung cancer

4. Peanuts

peanuts

  • Included here even though they are not really ‘nuts’. Peanuts are in fact legumes.
  • Rich in all vitamins and minerals, especially folate which helps maintain good memory.
  • Provide energy and help boost metabolism
  • Rich source of protein

5. Walnuts

walnuts

  • Rich in anti-oxidants that can help fight cancer
  • High levels of good fats (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) that protect the heart and blood vessels
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids which also protect the heart
  • High levels of alpha-linoleic acid which can protect the heart during times of stress
  • Eating a walnut a day may reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels by around 7.5%.
Dr Vivek Baliga B
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