Nuts are wonderful things. Not only are they delicious, but most are dense in nutrients and super-good for you. However, different nuts have different health benefits, and it’s worth getting knowledgeable about which is which if you’re going to include them in your diet.
There are some things all nuts have in common, and one of these is their high unsaturated fat content (something seeds also have in abundance). Unsaturated fats are the good kinds of fats – the ones our bodies need for a number of functions, including cell membrane function, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and protecting and cushioning our organs. The only downside to their fat content is that it makes them high in calories, but as long as you’re careful with your portion sizes, this is nothing to worry about.
Most nuts also contain protein (though some more than others), which our bodies most notably need to build and repair muscles, something that should be an especially important consideration for those who exercise regularly. Nuts are also one of the few plant-based sources of protein, so a great thing to include in a vegan diet.
When it comes to nuts, just like fruit and veg, it’s best to mix up the varieties you eat so that you are get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and the maximum nutritional benefits. Nuts are one of our favourite groups of foods, and we use them a lot in our recipes! With this in mind I’ve taken a look at some of Jamie’s favourite nuts and done some digging in to their nutritional properties and what makes them so good for us.
The peanut is incredibly popular, especially here in the UK. Most people associate peanuts as being a unhealthy salted bar snack, but plain peanuts, or even peanut butter, are actually very nutritious! Peanuts are a source of many different macronutrients. The most prominent micronutrient found in peanuts is a B vitamin called biotin which our bodies use for many different functions, including keeping our metabolic systems healthy and enabling our nervous systems to function properly. It also helps to keep our hair and skin healthy, which is one of its more popular health benefits.
The almond is another popular nut that sneaks its way into a lot of recipes, especially in the cake and baking department (which detracts from their health benefits slightly!), but none the less they do still have nutritional properties we can take home. They are very similar to peanuts in that, as well as being super high in biotin, they are also high in the minerals calcium and phosphorus. These are the two minerals which make up our bones and teeth, so needless to say we need them to keep both our bones and teeth strong and healthy. Nuts are a great source of calcium and phosphorus for vegans, as many of us get our calcium and phosphorus from dairy products.
These are another favourite, and another used often in baking and in salads. Pecans are high in the mineral manganese, which we need to keep our bones healthy, and also to protect our cells from the oxidative damage caused by stress. A 30g portion of pecan nuts will provide you with 70% of your RI% for manganese!
Brazil nuts are probably one of my favourite nuts, which is a good thing as they are possibly one of the most nutrient dense! The mineral most prominent in brazil nuts is selenium, and they actually have more selenium in per 100g than any other food. Selenium is a mineral that works with iodine to make sure our thyroid glands function properly, the gland that produces the hormones that control our metabolism. We also need selenium to keep our nails and hair strong and healthy and to keep our immune systems strong. Selenium is usually found in fish and liver, so again this is a great nut to include in your diet if you are vegetarian or vegan, where you may struggle to get enough selenium from other food sources. Just under 25g of brazil nuts will give you your daily reference intake for selenium.
I could go on and on telling you about different nuts and what they all do to keep us ticking over but you get the idea! So, assuming no nut allergy, definitely make an effort to get nuts into your diet in some way shape or form.
We have a load of recipes using these nuts and many more, so please do use these to inspire you!