If you’re looking for a healthy snack, but are short on time, or simply can’t cook up a wholesome healthy meal, munching on some seeds or nuts is a substitute every nutritionist and doctor would recommend. Nuts and seeds can be found virtually anywhere, and while many prefer to eat them roasted or salted, raw is the way to go if you’re after a nutritional health boost.
There are many vitamins and nutrients hidden away in nuts and seeds, and some of them are bound to surprise you:
Fiber is found in seeds and nuts, as well as all plant-based foods. First and foremost, fiber is known to benefit bowel movements and slow the rate of digestion. Slower digestion means your body has more time to break down essential nutrients. It also means your body absorbs sugars slower after a meal, leading to a more gradual increase in blood glucose levels.
Many nuts and seeds contain an abundance of fiber. An ounce of flax seeds contains a 7.7 grams, while an ounce of sunflower seeds contains 3.1 grams of fiber. When it comes to nuts, almonds pack a punch with an estimated 3-5 grams of fiber per ounce, while an ounce of pistachios contains roughly 2.8 grams.
Nuts and seeds contain a significant amount of healthy fats. When it comes to raw seeds and nuts, you can be 100% sure that the fats you’re eating are 100% unsaturated and natural.
Walnuts and flax seeds contain a good amount of alpha-linolenic acid–a type of omega-3 fatty acid. This type of fat (as with most fatty acids) fights cognitive decline, nourishes red blood cells, and helps prevent inflammation. An ounce of walnuts contains over 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, over a gram and more than the recommended daily intake.
Flax seeds contain roughly 1.6 grams of healthy fats per tablespoon.
It’s been proven that a diet rich in seeds and nuts is directly linked to disease prevention, as well as a myriad of other life-prolonging benefits. People with a steady diet of nuts and seeds have a more efficient metabolism due to the fiber and usually have a lower body mass index.
The lowered risk of inflammation from a steady diet of nuts and seeds also leads to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Seeds and nuts are also directly linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. And the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent cancer.
Nuts Needed For a Healthy Diet
There are many different nuts, and while they’re all beneficial in one way or another, there are definitely too many to put in one diet.
Let’s go over the healthiest nuts you can start snacking on today:
Almonds are packed full of vitamins and nutrients. 100 grams of raw, unprocessed almonds contains roughly 50 grams of healthy fat, 21 grams of protein, 21 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of fiber.
Almonds are also a rich source of calcium, vitamin e, vitamin b2, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.
Almonds can be used in an extensive variety of cooking and meals, from almond milk to almond oil.
Walnuts provide essential nutrients for heart and brain health and are easy to add to foods, including honey and pancakes.
100 grams of walnuts contain roughly 15 grams of proteins, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, and 65 grams of fat. You can fin 9 grams of omega 3 fatty acids in 100 grams of walnuts–the most of all nuts.
Walnuts are contain many vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, phosphorous, manganese, and vitamin B-6.
These large, buttery nuts are an absolute treat either raw or refined.
Pecans can be used in a wide variety of cooking-related uses, from extracting pecan oil to dressings. Serving wise, 100 grams of pecans contains 14 grams of carbs and 9 grams of proteins, including roughly 9 grams of fiber as well as a myriad of vitamins and minerals: folates, niacin, riboflavin and vitamins A, C and E.
A 100 gram serving of pecans contains roughly 70 milligrams of calcium, 2.5 milligrams of iron, 121 milligrams of magnesium, 4.5 milligrams of zinc and a whopping 277 milligrams of phosphorous. It’s safe to say that these nuts pack a potent combination of vitamins and minerals.
Pine nuts are used to make pesto salts and are delicious raw. Pine nuts contain a staggering 70% of essential amino acids. A 100 gram serving contains a whopping 670 calories, as well as 14 grams of proteins, 13 grams of carbs, 3.7 grams of fiber, 597 milligrams of potassium and 68 grams of fat (34 grams of which is polyunsaturated.)
Pine nuts contain vitamins A, C, D, E and K, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. They’re also rich in minerals, especially manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.
Despite their great flavor, cashews are surprisingly low in fat. A 100 gram serving of these cashews contains roughly 18 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.
At 550 calories per 100 gram serving, raw cashews contain 43 grams of fat, 23 grams of which is monounsaturated.
Cashews contain a high amount of oleic acid, which is directly linked to a healthy heart. And if you’re feeling moody, a big handful of cashews contain up to 2000 milligrams of tryptophan, a key component found to help regulate mood. Cashews are a natural antidepressant!
Seeds Needed for a Healthy Diet
Seeds are typically lower in fat and calories than nuts but often contain a larger dose of beneficial vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
Flax seeds rival fish oil in omega-3 content and can be added to virtually anything, from smoothies to breakfast cereals to oatmeal and even desserts.
Flax seeds also contain a heavy dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants. A 100 gram serving of raw flax seeds contain 16 grams of protein and an estimated 27 grams of carbohydrates for a total 530 calories and 42 gram of fat.
Flax seeds are especially rich in thiamine, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin K and pantothenic acid.
Mineral-wise, flax seeds pack a punch with magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc and manganese.
Chia seeds are low in calories while providing a healthy dose of minerals and vitamins. A 100 gram serving of chia seeds contains 490 calories while providing 15 grams of protein, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of fiber, and 30 grams of fat, 23 of which ares polyunsaturated.
Gram for gram, chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon and are packed full of antioxidants.
When it comes to minerals, chia seeds are especially rich in phosphorous, zinc, manganese, calcium.
Hemp seeds are a superfood known for a balanced amount of omega-3/6 fatty acids as well as being a rich source of proteins. A 100 gram serving of shelled hemp seeds contains 36 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 45 grams of fat, 560 of calories.
Hemp seed oil can be derived from these super-beneficial seeds, which is nutritionally composed of 50%-60% of linoleic acid, a well-known cancer killer.
Pumpkin seeds play a major role in boosting the immune system and are full of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc.
A 100 gram serving of pumpkin seeds contains 446 calories with 18 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of fat, with 77 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. This puts them as a top contender for most Omega-3 fatty acids in the seed family per gram.
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in other minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Sunflower seeds help prevent heart disease and cancer with their abundance of phytochemicals, folate, vitamin E, selenium, and copper.
A 100 gram serving of sunflower seeds contains 560 of calories, 20 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber, 50 grams of fat (18 grams monounsaturated and 23 grams polyunsaturated), and 74 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin-wise, sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate and thiamine.
When it comes to minerals, sunflower seeds provide a hefty amount of magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese and selenium.
Bad News for Peanut Lovers
If you’re wondering why peanuts aren’t above, here’s a fact some people aren’t aware of: peanuts aren’t nuts!
Peanuts are legumes and the unfortunate truth is that they aren’t nearly as healthy as the nuts and seeds listed here. They contain a carcinogenic mold known as aflatoxin, and notorious for being one of the most pesticide-contaminated crops in existence.
Peanuts do little to nothing for the body nutrition-wise besides providing calories and fats, so if you’re after a life-prolonging diet you can do a lot better.
So the next time your reaching for a quick bite, go for nuts and seeds. They’re packed full of disease-battling, lifespan-extending vitamins and minerals, are easy to carry around, and provide a filling snack on the go.