Nuts and Seeds Help You Live Longer, With Less Disease
Many people worry about eating nuts and seeds because of the high-calorie punch they pack. Some people fear that nuts and seeds will make them gain weight. But the truth is, they are one of the healthiest things you can add to your diet.
Nuts are nutrition-filled, delicious, and super snackworthy! We can eat them whole, ground into a nut butter, as a salad dressing, blended into a savory dish, in a smoothie, or mixed into a sweet, healthy dessert!
The opportunities to enjoy them are endless, and the health benefits are inspiring. Let’s talk about why and how you should add nuts and seeds into your daily diet.
The Health Benefits
Weight loss and Less Disease
Studies show that eating nuts and seeds actually leads to weight loss, a better metabolic rate, and lowered risk of disease. Eating nuts and seeds is also associated with increased lifespan and lowered risk of premature death. Aside from the nutritional impact from things like healthy omega 3s and beneficial nutrients, nuts and seeds fill you up, leaving you satisfied, and less likely to crave bad foods.
Harvard did a study of over 100,000 people that spanned several decades. They discovered that people who ate nuts lived a significantly longer time. Specifically, they had less death from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
Consuming nuts and seeds can specifically stave off cancer. Even just two handfuls a week, one study shows, can counteract and possibly prevent pancreatic cancer! The two best nuts you can eat for cancer prevention are walnuts and pecans.
Our brain is made up of 60% fat, so it needs healthy fats to work properly! Nuts and seeds have been shown to be incredibly helpful at providing the right fats and antioxidants, combined with other nutrients, that can prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Consuming nuts boosts BDNF, a brain builder that is associated with better memory, and lowered risk of alzheimer’s disease. They also provide DHAs, which helps improve cognitive abilities.
Adding nuts and seeds to your diet
I love to eat them with leafy greens for better nutrient absorption. When we eat greens, there are some nutritional compounds that cannot be properly absorbed without adding fat to it. It’s like the universe knew, from the beginning, that a salad called for a crunchy nut topping!
A great way to do this is to add a nut or seed-based salad dressing, which is much better than using just plain oil. Even the best of oils is still a refined food because the fat has been separated from the nuts. Try adding almond butter, tahini or sunflower seed butter, blended with citrus and herbs, as a salad dressing.
Make sure you find raw and organic nuts seeds. Roasted nuts and seeds lose much of their nutritional value. When buying almonds in particular, they must be unpasteurised, not just state that they are raw on the package. “Raw” has been diluted to mean “not roasted.” But almonds grown in the US, by law, must be pasteurised (with a few, minor exceptions). If you are going to look for raw almonds, make sure you buy them from places like Italy or Spain.
Try them in small quantities as a delicious snack. Chia seed pudding is really popular, partly because it is delicious, but also because it super easy to make. There are many recipes available that use almond milk (or another nut or seed milk) as the base.
Make Your Nuts and Seeds More Digestible and Absorbable
It is important to soak many nuts and seeds before eating them. This is called “activating” them, or releasing the natural enzyme-inhibtors and making them more digestible. Pre-soaking your nuts and seeds (flax and chia seeds don’t need to be soaked) also makes the nutrients more readily available.
What kind and how much?
There are tons of nuts and seeds to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites:
Flaxseeds are associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk and even stop breast cancer cell growth. It also helps with better mental health and brain health.
Chia seeds are high in lignans, like flaxseeds, and they are helpful in preventing cancers, specifically in females.
Walnuts are the best nuts for cancer prevention. They also have tons of unique antioxidants that are difficult to get in any other foods.
Brazil Nuts are great for reducing inflammation because of their selenium-packed nutrition. They are also particularly good for brain health.
Almonds: In a study published by the journal Nutrition Research, it was revealed that “a moderate intake of almonds improves diet quality in adults and their young children and modulates microbiota composition.” That means eating almonds or almond butter can help your gut health or microbiome. Besides that, they are incredibly tasty, are full of vitamin e and can benefit hair, skin and nails.
And perhaps the most surprising one:
Pecans Tufts University School of Medicine recently studied pecans and published in the journal Nutrients in 2018. They showed pecans improve insulin resistance and beta cell function (insulin-releasing cells of the pancreas). The results were “significantly greater” in the pecan-eating group than the control! The study showed that pecans reduce the risk of cardio metabolic disease. Pecans can also help you lose and maintain a healthy weight, and are also incredibly cancer preventative. I think it might be time to come up with a healthy pecan pie recipe. Until then, I will continue to sprinkle them on my salads:
How much and how often?
The equivalent of one or two small handfuls of nuts a day should give you all of the wonderful benefits, without going overboard on the calorie consumption. If you find it difficult to just have a few and like to eat the whole bag, rather than snacking on nuts and seeds, use them in your food. Sprinkle them on salads for flavor and crunch. Or use the salad dressing method described above.
But, there is but here… Apparently, according to one study, people who quit eating nuts and seeds every day lost all of the wonderful benefits when they quit or switched to another fat source, like extra virgin olive oil. So, do your best to integrate some form of nuts and seeds every day.
What is your favorite way to incorporate nuts and seeds into your diet? Any recipes to share?
Let us know in the comments!
Posted in Food & Lifestyle Tagged with activate, almomds, almond butter, almond milk, brain, brazilnuts, cancer, chia sees, chronic, chronic disease, flaxseeds, health, healthy fats, heart, heart disease, insulin, insulin resistance, livelonger, longevity, memory, metabolism, nuts, pecans, seeds, soak, sprout, tahini, walnuts, weight loss