Hungry? The next time you want a tasty and easy snack in between meals, grab a handful of nuts. This varied, crunchy and healthy option not only fills you up, but can also round off your diet with some much-needed nutrition and calories.
Almonds: “Almonds are a powerhouse of good nutrition as they are rich in antioxidants,” says Poonam Singh, nutritionist, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. The fat content of almonds lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol and increases levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the body. Almonds are also good for one’s skin and hair. Eat three to four almonds every day – either plain or in a blanched form with honey – to gain all its benefits.
Hazelnuts: Available in supermarkets in packaged form, hazelnuts are a good source of vitamin B and are rich in folate content. “Hazelnuts are also high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol. They are rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium,” says Ritika Samadar, head of nutrition, Max Health Care, Delhi.
Walnuts: These are also referred to as brain food because of the wrinkled brain-like appearance of their shells and their high concentration of omega-3 fats. Walnuts, like almonds, help in increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. “They are also rich in fibre and vitamin B,” says Singh.
Pinenuts: Commonly known as chilgozas, these thin little nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees and are rich in essential vitamin B. “They are the only natural source of pinolenic acid, that helps in containing appetite and reduces binge eating. They are rich in monounsaturated fats and hence have heart protective benefits. Good source of Vitamin C,” says Singh.
Peanuts: These are one of the most easily available and low-cost sources of iron and calcium. “They are high in fibre and also help in increasing calorie and protein content when one is on a diet,” explains Poonam Singh, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.
Peanuts are also often used as a replacement for milk for people diagnosed with lactose intolerance. They can also be eaten in chikkis and chutneys.
Dos and Don’ts
How to eat nuts: With the skin as the skin is a good source of fibre, vitamins and the micronutrients. “Avoid salted or fried nuts. The fat and sodium content becomes higher,” says Ritika Samadar, head of nutrition, Max Health Care.
When: “Ideally between meals,” says Poonam Singh, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. Nuts can also be added to porridge/salad or soups.
How much: 15-30 gms or 10-15 in number. Avoid: Cashews and pistachios as they are very rich in calories and bad fats