While you may have been told to avoid nuts and seeds due to their high fat and caloric content, these tasty gems contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and are truly terrific to include in your diet. They contain protein, fiber, and plant stanols, which may help lower cholesterol, and antioxidants including vitamin E.
Research has found that including a serving of nuts (approximately a handful) in your diet may actually prevent weight gain and possibly even promote weight loss, as long as you control total calories. The protein, fiber, and fat in nuts aid in satiety and help you feel full longer, so you may actually end up eating less during the day. Nut eaters have also been shown to have a lower incidence of diabetes when compared to those who rarely ate nuts.
Here are a few nutrition points:
Almonds are packed with nutrients and are a filling and flavorful snack. They contain protein, vitamin E, healthy fats, along with the minerals calcium and magnesium.
Pistachios contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, and the minerals phosphorus, copper, manganese. They are also rich in plant stanols; research found that substituting these jade gems for fatty meats can actually lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Walnuts not only taste great, but also provide a heart-healthy addition to your diet. Rich in the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and antioxidants such as selenium, walnuts also provide protein, fiber, magnesium and phosphorus to the diet.
Flaxseeds are high-protein and rich in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Its high fiber content (two tablespoons contain nearly five grams of fiber) can help to reduce cholesterol and regulate bowels. They are also rich in B vitamins, the minerals magnesium and manganese, and plant lignans, which may prevent certain types of cancer and diabetes.
Sunflower seeds contain the antioxidant vitamins E, and C, protein, and fiber. They make for a great heart-healthy snack eaten by themselves or sprinkled onto a salad or vegetable dish. When eating them as a snack, try "deshelling" them yourself, since a small portion goes a long way, both in terms of calories and flavor.
Chia seeds are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Research found that that chia seeds may lower blood pressure and reduce an individual's risk of heart problems.
Hemp seeds contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which may offer protective benefits against inflammatory conditions, atherosclerosis, and certain neurological problems. Hemp also contains vitamin E, protein, fiber and iron, and is a healthy component of a plant-based diet.
To boost your nutrient intake, sprinkle nuts and seeds on cereal, yogurt or salads; eat them as a snack; or mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods.
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