Nuts are full of delicious goodness and packed with unsaturated fatty acids, protein and fibre. They’re also inexpensive, easy to store and good to have on hand for snacks at home, work or school.
What’s in a nut? Many things, but some of the more common are:
- Unsaturated fats. The fat in nuts includes both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help to lower cholesterol.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fats are the ‘good’ fats that support heart health and reduce inflammation.
- Fibre. All nuts contain fibre, which maintains healthy digestion and can help to lower cholesterol.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant and can help with menopausal symptoms and the prevention of heart disease.
- Plant sterols. Nuts contain naturally occurring phytosterols. Plant sterols can help to lower cholesterol.
- L-arginine. Nuts contain high levels of the amino acid arginine, which is an important nutrient cardiovascular health. (NB. L-arginine is something to avoid if you have cold sores, as it may exacerbate the active virus. Steer clear if you have a flare-up.)
How much is enough and how much is too much? A healthy serve of nuts is about 30–50g, or one small handful. This will approximate:
- 20 almonds
- 15 cashews
- 20 hazelnuts
- 15 macadamias
- 15 pecans
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 60 pistachios in shells (30 g of kernels)
- 10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
- one small handful of mixed nuts