Nuts' Nutrients Protect Against High Blood Pressure And Osteoporosis
Nuts are one of the foods high in potassium and low in sodium. High potassium foods protect against high blood pressure, reduce the chance of osteoporosis, and reduce risk of kidney stones. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that adults get 4.7 grams of potassium a day to reap these benefits. Nuts can get you a long way toward reaching that goal. Most have over 300 mg of potassium in 100 grams of nuts.
Most of the calories in nuts come from fats, but the fats are the heart healthy type. The only nut high in saturated fat (heart unhealthy type) is the coconut. 95% of its fat comes from saturated fat. Two other nuts with a fair amount of saturated fat are cashews and Brazil nuts. The rest of the nuts have mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In many nuts, the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are balanced, but several are loaded more with one or the other.
Those highest in monounsaturated fats are macadamia nuts (with more than 80% of its fat calories from monounsaturated fat), and pistachios, almonds, and pecans. Monounsaturated fat forms a large part of the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with heart health.
Many of the nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, butternut, flaxseed and cottonseed are good choices. Although a few are higher in omega 6 fats, most have favorable omega 3 fats.
Most nuts also have a pretty good amount of protein. Pecans, macadamias, chestnuts and coconut meat have only 10% or less of their calories as protein. But almonds, cottonseeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black walnuts, and squash seeds have more than 15% of their calories as protein.
With a few exceptions, nuts have low amounts of carbohydrates, giving them a low glycemic index value. When added to a meal, they will reduce the glycemic index of the meal, helping to slow absorption of the carbohydrates, and thus blunt the sugar spike of the meal.
There are a variety of ways to use nuts in a meal. They can be danced or chopped and put into a salad or sandwich. They can be pureed or buttered to make a dip or topping for dessert. Or eaten whole, they can be a snack. As a snack though, you have to be careful. There are a lot of calories in a small amount, and you can quickly get too many.