To my Myth Buster Followers,

What is on the agenda today, let’s talk about nuts and are they good or bad for you?

Myth:-  Nuts are as bad as junk food?

Here’s what you need to know

Please, look at Government and Professional Accredited nutrition, dietetic and medical websites and information resources. The nut family seem to cause mass confusion for the general populations, especially if you are weight conscious or trying to lose weight. So today we are going to clear up the confusion and give you all the facts about nuts in general. What is a nut? It’s actually a dried fruit and at maturity when ready to eat has 1-2 seeds encased in a hard wall. In Australia we consume a wide range of tree nuts:- cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts and the good old peanut, which is actually a legume however its nutritional properties are similar to tree nuts. Sometimes seeds:- chai, caraway, flaxseed, linseed, poppy, passionfruit, pepita/pumpkin, sesame, cape and sunflower seeds, are termed as nuts, however these are not botanically tree nuts, but do have similarities in nutritional properties.

Key nutrients found in tree nuts:-

  • Healthy monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats ~ ½ to ¾ of a nuts property are Green_tickfats (excludes chestnuts which are low in fats)
  • Plant sterols – are in small quantities in nuts – reduce cholesterol absorption
  • Protein (9–20%) of nut
  • Low sodium and contain natural sugars- carbohydrates

Each nut variety has its’ own unique nutrient profile additional to the nutrients above :-

  • Almonds: Vitamin E & calcium
  • Brazil nuts: Fibre & Selenium (2 brazil nuts provides a days recommended dietary Intakes for adults)
  • Cashews: plant iron (non-haem iron) & low Glycaemic index rating ( slow digestion and keeps you satisfied longer)
  • Chestnuts: Fibre, Vitamin C & low Glycaemic index rating ( slow digestion and keepsGreen_tick you satisfied longer)
  • Hazelnuts: Fibre, vitamin E, potassium & folate
  • Macadamias: Highest in healthy fats, manganese & thiamin
  • Pecans: Antioxidants & Fibre
  • Pine nuts: Vitamin E and arginine amino acid (building block of protein)
  • Pistachio nuts: Potassium & antioxidant
  • Walnuts: alpha linoleic acid: plant omega 3 fatty acid and antioxidants

These nutrients assist in various essential body functions of bone health, metabolism & digestion, heart health, blood pressure, reducing cholesterol from saturated fats (animal fats), building and/or repairing cells, muscles and tissues, immune system, healthy skin, nervous system, muscle function, hydration, chemical balances, genetic – make DNA, and assist in blood sugar levels.

Thought………..Should I eat nuts or junk food?

Lets’ compare nuts against junk food.

30g nuts :- contains 191 calories(797kJ), 5g protein, 17g fat (15g healthy), 3g carbohydrates Green_tick(1g sugar), 2g fibre, 2g sodium and 33g calcium and mixture of small amounts of other nutrients mentioned above………This snack may keep you satisfied for 1-2 hours for the average person

30g Cinnamon donut (2 average bites) :- contains 98 calories(410kJ), 1g protein, 4g fat (2g cross 2healthy), 15g carbohydrates (6g sugar), 1g fibre, 204g sodium and 18g calcium, these are the main nutrients…………This may keep you satisfied for 5-10 minutes

15g cheese burger (~1 average bite) & 15g (3) fried chips :- contains 92 calories(383kJ), 3g cross 2protein, 5g fat (3g healthy), 7g carbohydrates (1g sugar), 1g fibre, 121g sodium and 33g calcium, these are the main nutrients………………………This may keep you satisfied for 5-10 minutes.

FACT:- Nuts are a good source of nutrients and energy, that keep you satisfied for longer than junk food. They assist in preventing illness and diseases, when eaten in a balanced nutritious diet. Best raw or dry roasted with no added salt. When 30g of nuts are eaten per day within a Mediterranean diet or balanced diet using olive oil, it reduces heart disease, increases life expectancy, reduces weigh and waist circumference, reduced type 2 diabetes by half, reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome by ~ ¼ (a complex disease effected by obesity & insulin resistant ). Junk food is an occasional food (e.g. once or twice a week or less), not needed for survival and has low nutritional value that doesn’t satisfy hunger for long periods of time.

Hot Tip:- Eat 30 grams of nuts per day = a small hand full. This equates to 20 almonds or hazelnuts, or 15 pecans or cashews or macadamias, or 30 pistachio kernels, or 9 walnut kernels or 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. If you want the benefits of all the nuts, create your own mixture and have a small handful.

Food supply and availability:- Most tree nuts are grown in Australia excluding brazil nuts, they are all imported. Almonds, pecans, macadamias and chestnuts are all 100% grown in Australia and supply Australians nationally, however hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios are grown on a smaller scale and are also imported to meet Australian demands.  Nuts can be purchased all year round from supermarkets, green grocers, delicatessens and specialty grocery stores. Prices range from ~ $7 Peanuts to $69 pinenuts a kilogram. The average price of the other nuts sits between $20 to $40 per kilogram.

Links for further reading:-

Nuts and health

Lean Meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

Nuts, Grains & Seeds Chart

Nutrients

Nut Recipes

A nutty recipe to make those taste buds tango

Asian coriander and mixed nut dipdip and veges
  • 1 cup mixed nuts, dry roasted no salt
  • 1 bunch coriander (use stems and leaves),                    rinsed and chopped finely
  • ½  long red chili, seeded and chopped finely
  • ½ teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fish sauceprawns 2
  • ½ clove garlic crushed
  • ¼  cup natural yogurt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until still quite chunky.

Ingredients for dipping into Asian coriander and mixed nut dip

  • vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, zucchini, snow peas, capsicums, green beans) – can quickly steam/microwave if preferred, slightly cooked but crisp.
  • cooked large prawns (peeled with tails on) to serve

Place dip into a bowl, sprinkle with fresh coriander and place vegetable sticks and fresh prawns around dip. Eat immediately or refrigerate till required.

Enjoy……Eat well, eat fresh

By Lyn Dunkley your Myth Buster,

NRG Dietitians Australia

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For individualised advice to meet your nutritional needs, look for an Accredited Practising Dietitian

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