In the Netherlands, we have a snack called Studentenhaver, which roughly translates as Student oats. This is a mix of walnuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, and sometimes other dried fruits. This mix is supposed to enhance intelligence, hence the name. So, nuts for our brain.
Tom and I supplement our food with lots of nuts, not because it would increase our intelligence, but because of all the benefits nuts contain. We rarely eat meat, which is another reason to eat nuts. Although the main reason is that they are delicious. We love nuts.
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Table of contents
Nuts for our brain
Like seeds, nuts are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They strengthen our immune system. Although, depending on your body it might be better to avoid certain nuts, like peanuts.
Research about nuts was nuts?
Eating a handful of nuts daily, according to research published in BMC Medicine, helps to reduce the “… risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections.”
The researchers concluded that people who ate a handful (20 grams) of any nuts daily were nearly 30 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease.
In addition, their chance of getting cancer was 15 percent lower and their chance of dying prematurely was 22 percent lower. Moreover, individuals who regularly ate nuts had half the risk of dying from respiratory disease, and the risk of diabetes fell by nearly 40 percent.
Despite nuts being high in calories and fats, the other benefits are huge. 20 Grams is sufficient because eating more does not further increase the positive effects.
7 Favorite nuts and 1 we avoid
Raw, unsalted, and organic is the best version of all described nuts. Heating reduces the nutrients. However, some say that roasting without oil counteracts certain allergic reactions. As is often the case with food, you cannot make a firm statement in black or white about this.
If you really don’t like raw nuts, roast them yourself:
- Put them on the baking tray of the oven, without adding oil;
- Select the lowest temperature setting of the grill and place the baking tray low in the oven;
- Jiggle the baking tray occasionally, so that the other side of the nuts also gets roasted;
- Stay around because they will burn before you know it;
- They are ready when they are a bit darker than the raw nuts.
Almonds are a huge source of vitamin E, vitamin B2, manganese, and phosphorus, as well as magnesium and copper. The most antioxidants are in the brown shell. Almonds are beneficial against heart disease and cholesterol.
Just one big Brazil nut provides you with your daily portion of selenium. Selenium is a much-needed antioxidant that can protect your cells and contributes to your immune system.
The best ingredient in cashew nuts is the amount of copper they contain. Our body needs the trace element copper to make red blood cells, clear free radicals, develop bone tissue, and produce melanin, which is skin and hair pigment.
Hazelnuts are high in folic acid. Especially for pregnant women, it is important that they get enough folic acid. Older people can have mental benefits. Folic acid is said to improve memory. And hazelnuts are also a rich source of vitamin E, copper, and manganese.
Pecan nuts resemble walnuts in their twisted form. They are sweeter and have a darker color than walnuts.
Pecan nuts are rich in zinc and vitamin B1. Zinc plays a role in the immune system and vitamin B1 enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy.
Those nuts can lower LDL cholesterol and protect your body against cardiovascular disease.
Pistachios are one of the healthiest nut types. I eat them because I like them so much, but it is nice that they lower LDL cholesterol as well. If you want to lose weight pistachios are a good choice as well as they are lower in calories than most other nuts. And the polyunsaturated fatty acids in pistachios are very beneficial for burning belly fat.
Walnuts are shaped like a brain and are said to be very beneficial for our brain. Years ago I heard of research that was done in India, where the Hindus have walnuts as an important part of their cuisine, that showed fewer people suffered from Alzheimer’s than in our part of the world. I sure hope it’s true, because ever since I have added walnuts to my diet.
Those nuts aren’t nuts! Peanuts are a kind of legume and grow underground, where nuts grow above the ground in nut trees.
Peanuts are a rich source of vitamins B1, B3, and folic acid, but also of Omega-6 fats. Although we do need Omega-6 fats as well, it’s better not to overdo it.
We have another reason as well to avoid eating peanuts. Or at least my husband has.
Because peanut is a legume and legumes contain purine Tom skipped them from his diet. He is at risk of gout. Skipping purine-containing food has already protected him from a gout attack for over a decade.
Nuts are not for everyone
Some people are allergic to nuts. Whenever there is a substance you don’t want or can’t have in your food, you will notice how much it is added. I discovered that when I tried a sugar-free month prior to my total ban of refined sugar out of my diet. And people with a nut allergy will discover the same.
This article obviously is not meant for those people. And probably you will know – when you are allergic – what to avoid. Namely, things with nut flour and nut oil. Even marzipan and nougat.
Some closing words
Nuts are very beneficial for your health – given you’re not allergic – and are very tasteful. I eat them at all times of the day. Sometimes in the morning in my almond yogurt breakfast. Or in a salad during lunch. And definitely at the end of the afternoon as I don’t eat dinner and love nuts as a last ‘fill up’ of my stomach.
When you do eat at night, I can recommend chicken, with mango and cashew nuts. Or a handful of nuts when you watch TV on the sofa.
Eating too many nuts is not healthy but they sure are healthier than a bag of potato chips. 🙂
Do you like nuts? Tell me in the comment box.