A daily dose of a handful of nuts brings about immense health benefits. Eating 25-50 grams nuts a day may reduce the risk or diabetes and heart disease. Besides, studies have shown that those who included nuts as part of their diets were slimmer than those who did not. Thus it is a common myth that consuming nuts will cause weight gain. The key is to eat them in moderation.
What is a nut exactly? According to Macquarie Dictionary, ‘nut’ is a type of dry fruit that consists of a nutritive kernel or meat confined in a leathery or woody shell. Botanically, ‘nut’ defines a hard, indehiscent, one-seeded fruit, as the chestnut or the acorn.
Peanuts belong to same botany family as beans and peas, thus they are known as ‘legumes’. Similarly to ‘real’ nuts, they have comparable nutritional levels and promote our health. Therefore, discussion about nuts may apply to peanuts as well.
Nuts possess a large amount of fat and protein. Chestnuts are exceptional, which contains mostly carbohydrate and little amounts of fat or protein. Thus, we can say that, along with fish, meat, eggs, poultry and legumes, nuts may be categorized under the food group of ‘protein’.
Although nuts contain more amounts of fats, these fats are ‘polyunsaturated’ or ‘monounsaturated’. Omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts, for instance have been shown to provide cardiovascular protection and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol.
In addition, almost all nuts are very good sources of the major B vitamins – B1/Thiamine, B2/Riboflavin, and B3/Niacin.
Coconuts, on the other hand are not considered nuts according to the International Nut Council. They do not have equal amounts of fats and on the nutritional scale, coconuts differ greatly from those of ‘real’ nuts.
Coconut milk is extremely high in fat and you should limit your intake of these products. In fact, one cup of fresh coconut milk contains 50 grams of saturated fat from the coconut oil. This amount is more than twice the amount of saturated fat you should have in your diet. Since saturated fat is the major cause of cholesterol, it would be good not to consume them too often.
People who have allergy towards nuts should not be careful not to take those nuts as it is dangerous to their health. When eating out, ensure that the food you eat do not contain even traces of nuts hidden in them.
Nuts are available without salt ‘in the shell’. It is advisable to purchase nuts in their shell as unshelled nuts have a longer shelf life than that of shelled nuts. Properly dried unshelled nuts can keep for several weeks at room temperature. Keep them in airtight containers in a cool and dry location to ensure good quality.
However, since rancidity in nuts is common leading to off-flavors; one method to overcome this problem is to buy nuts in large quantity, then place them in smaller bags and put them in the refrigerator and store them for future use.