Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. . . the list goes on!
Not only are nuts and seeds delicious, but they also pack in a powerful helping of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that support overall health as well as a healthy heart, brain and weight. In fact, just one ounce a day can provide those vitamins, minerals and healthy fats as well as protein and fiber to support healthy immunity and levels of inflammation.
Almonds and peanuts, for example, are excellent sources of vitamin E, one of the most lipid-soluble antioxidants in our cells. The antioxidant function of vitamin E may slow the effects of oxidative stress and support healthy aging, joints, eyes, blood sugar levels and immunity
Some notable minerals that nuts and seeds provide are magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus, which are helpful for bone health and development as well as energy production and supporting healthy immunity. The Nurses’ Health Study determined that people who had the highest amounts of magnesium—approximately 350 milligrams daily—had much less unhealthy inflammation than those with a low magnesium intake. By the way, one ounce of sunflower seed kernels contains 100 milligrams of magnesium.
Likewise, calcium is necessary for bone development and overall bone health, while also sending signals to cells and aiding in the production of energy—and just one ounce of almonds provides 75 milligrams of calcium.
As far as the healthy fats, nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which support healthy inflammation levels and cellular health in the body. These kinds of fats are also heart healthy, as they help to support healthy levels of cholesterol levels in the body as well as taming unhealthy inflammation. One study published in the British Medical Journal indicated that those who ate nuts five times weekly had a 35 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
Also helping with heart health is the fiber that can be found in nuts and seeds, which helps to support healthy levels of cholesterol as well. Interestingly, the fiber’s effect in the intestines causes a short-chain fatty acid called propionate to form, which directly and positively affects the liver and prevents it from triggering cholesterol production.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published research that pointed out a 25 percent reduction in cholesterol levels after nut consumption that wasn’t due to the healthy fats alone. Researchers believed that the fiber content and minerals in nuts were responsible for the decrease. Additionally, fiber helps to slow digestion, which helps people feel fuller for longer periods of time, which can lead to eating less and possible weight loss.
Then there’s the plant protein found in nuts—about 6 grams per ounce, on average. Plant foods, in general, are highly recommended for lowering one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and for cancer. In fact, one study followed 72,000 women for 28 years and found that the women eating a plant-based diet had a higher than 25 percent decrease in their risk for heart disease and cancer.
That sure is a lot of nutritional power in nuts and seeds!