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Nuts about Nuts

Nuts about Nuts. Have a handful a day... Nuts and seeds; so much goodness; so underrated. As a plant-based triathlete and dietitian they form a big part of my diet. They are tasty, wholesome and satisfying plus contain so much goodness. Whether it be in the form of whole nuts or seeds or nut butters you'll find them at my house and I use them daily. Did you know that only 2% of Australians are meeting the daily target for nut intake. That’s a really small percentage of us.

Let's take a look at nuts and seeds in a little bit more detail.

Nuts are botanically classified as a fruit. They are edible seeds with a hard inedible shell.

Examples of the different types of nuts and seeds include:

  • Almonds

  • Brazil nuts

  • Cashew nuts

  • Hazelnuts

  • Macadamias

  • Pecans

  • Pine nuts

  • Pistachios

  • Walnuts

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Sesame seeds

  • Poppy seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Psyllium seeds

  • Chia seeds

Why eat nuts? There are a wide range of benefits to eating nuts and seeds including reduced risk of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease.

One major study showed that eating a handful of nuts per day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 21% and all-cause mortality by 22%.

Nuts contain healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) and this helps to reduce cardiovascular risk factors such as total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol(the bad cholesterol).

Nuts are low in saturated fats (unhealthy fats), a good source of protein, contain arginine which is good for keeping our blood vessels healthy, free of dietary cholesterol, high in fibre, rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants and high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, B6, niacin and folate, magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Although high in healthy fats, studies have shown that the body weight and waist circumference of individuals who consumed nuts regularly did not increase.

How much per day? 30g per day is recommended. How much is that... that’s a handful. Literally grab a handful and enjoy. Don’t stress too much about being exact with it. A handful is just a rough guide. I also include natural nut and seed butters such as tahini, peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter. And in addition to this, seeds such as chia and flaxseed meal.

Can you eat salted roasted nuts? I get asked this question a lot so thought I'd address it for you. In short, yes but aim for dry roasted nuts. Some roasted nuts have unhealthy fats/oils added to them in the roasting process.

My favourite ways to use nuts and seeds? Natural peanut butter or tahini on toast with a little bit of honey and banana before my training sessions. Seeds such as Chia seeds in porridge 1 tsp of peanut butter or almond butter in porridge A handful of nuts as a snack A handful of nuts in my pesto recipe (see my Instagram post for the recipe)

It seems that there are a vast number of benefits to eating nuts and seeds. They taste delicious and are super satisfying. Can you fit a healthy handful into your day? Mattea Palombo Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Accredited Nutritionist (AN) Adelaide Nutrition


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