Be honest: when hunger strikes, what is the first thing you reach for? Chocolate? Cookies? Chips? 

When looking for a snack that’s nutritious, delicious, filling and full of flavour, you can’t do much better than a handful of nuts or seeds. But beware; these moreish morsels also come with their own caveat that can tip them over the edge from healthy to heinous.

Here are four pros and four cons for and against snacking on nuts….

PROS

Almonds

Known as the ‘king of nuts,’ almonds are packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B6 and E, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. This list, plus more help your brain, bones and teeth to stay strong and healthy while lowering your cholesterol, strengthening your nervous system and even protecting against certain forms of cancer.

Sunflower Seeds

High in protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, a handful of sunflower seeds a day can boost your immune system, strengthen your bones, lower your blood pressure and balance your hormone levels. Packed with vitamins B and E plus a whole host of minerals, sunflower seeds have been described as one of ‘the world’s healthiest foods.’

Walnuts

Walnuts are especially good for your immune system as they contain a powerful antioxidant by the name of ellagic acid. In addition, walnuts are rich in all B vitamins, as well as manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc. Walnuts have been shown to boost your mood, aid your sleep and improve your metabolism.

Pistachios

Containing a plethora of natural vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and phosphorous, these super green nuts help your heart, eyes and digestion, and can protect against diabetes. Pistachios also aid the absorption of iron from other foods meaning they are great for people that suffer from anaemia.

CONS

Keep It Raw

Roasting nuts may make them tastier but the process adds saturated fats, AKA ‘the bad type of fat’ to their nutritional value. This makes them less healthier than in their raw state.

Beat The Bloat

If you’ve ever felt gassy or bloated after eating nuts, you’re not alone. It’s a common side effect, thanks to compounds in nuts called phytates and tannins, which make them difficult to digest. Experiment with different varieties if you feel that some types are making you feel uncomfortable.

Ask About Allergies

Peanuts rank third among the most common food allergies in young children, and are the most common allergic reaction in older children and adults, according to the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Always read the label when buying any type of pre-made food, drink or snack.

Know Your Limit

While small amounts of nuts and seeds can help to satiate your appetite and keep your energy levels topped up for longer than candy or crisps, you could gain weight by eating large amounts due to their very high fat and calorie content. Measure out portions properly to prevent yourself going overboard.

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