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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Open that dry fruits box for health benefits

Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 18, 2013
First Published: 13:05 IST(18/11/2013) | Last Updated: 13:12 IST(18/11/2013)

Nuts may come in small packages but they pack a powerhouse filled with healthy fats, proteins, essential vitamins and minerals.

Health experts prescribe a combination of certain nuts to meet a significant amount of a person’s daily nutritional requirement.
“A lot of us these days are overcautious about consuming fat and try to omit fat completely from the diet, which is not at all healthy. Consuming about 20gm of visible fat daily from a healthy source is very important for the body to function smoothly,” said Ritika Samaddar, regional head, dietetics, Max Healthcare.

Nuts — including almonds, walnuts, peanuts and pistachios — contain heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, which along with oil from canola, mustard or olive usually takes care of the daily fat requirement of the body, according to Samaddar.

Recent nutritional studies on the beneficial effects of nuts have proven that a handful of almost all types contain equal calorific content.

In fact, a randomized controlled intervention trial of pistachios conducted by the Diabetes Foundation (India) and National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC), showed that daily consumption of the nut can significantly bring down the chances of getting diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“Simple dietary changes such as including nuts to the diet can lead to multiple health benefits. It will decrease incidence and prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease in Asians and Indians who are prone to develop these problems,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC center for diabetes, obesity, metabolic diseases, and endocrinology, who led the study.

According to the study, however, the pistachio nut provides the maximum benefit to Indians, as it has the highest content of anti-oxidants, is very light, acts as a metabolic booster and has high level of good fat that doesn’t get fully absorbed in the body.

About 30% of people, including children, in Delhi suffer from metabolic syndrome.

Moreover, Indians have about three times the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and cardio vascular disease as any other global community.

“Eating nuts also helps feel you feel full, reducing overall appetite, thus lessening the tendency to overeat or snack on unhealthy items,” Dr Misra added.

A word of caution though: always consume unsalted or raw nuts because salt and oil pile up calories and reduce their nutritional value.

SOME NUTS TO GIVE YOU A HEALTH BOOST:

PEANUTS
High in folate, a mineral essential for brain development, peanuts may protect against cognitive decline.
They are usually recommended for pregnant women as it aids with brain development of the unborn babies.
It helps to lower LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’ levels and increases HDL or ‘good cholesterol levels in the blood. This nut is also rich in anti-oxidants that slow down aging.

WALNUTS
These are known to be good for the heart as they contain alpha linoleic acid (ALA) — known to protect against several heart diseases.
Studies have labelled the walnut to be as effective as olive oil in reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after the consumption of a fatty meal.
A handful of walnuts (about 15 halves) contain 190 calories approximately: about 19 gm of fat and 5 gm of protein.

ALMONDS
Almonds are rich in calcium, a mineral that helps in building strong and healthy bones.
They also contian flavonoids to aid the heart and are rich in vitamin E that makes the skin glow. Almonds also have low fat content.
A handful of almonds (about 25 pieces) contain 150 calories approximately: about 15 gm of fat, and 7gm of protein.

PISTACHIOS
This nut is full of micronutrients and anti-oxidants that help improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome reducing chances of getting diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
The pistachio helps maintain hormonal balance in the body with its vitamin B complex content.
A handful of pistachios (about 25 pieces) contain 160 calories approximately: about 15 gm of fat, and 7gm of protein.


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