Nuts and seeds are perfect for snacks, recipes and your health. High in protein and nutrients such as omega-3's, if you aren't including them in your daily routine, you are missing out. In this article you will learn:
Health Benefits of Nuts
Side Effects of Nuts
Health Benefits of Seeds
Side effects of Seeds
Health Benefits of Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. All nuts are really great for gut health due to the high fiber content. The gut depends on good bacteria to keep it healthy. In order for the good bacteria to thrive, we need to eat fiber containing foods. Nuts have prebiotic compounds which help feed the good bacteria in the gut.
The nut with the highest amount of fiber is the almond. In order to get the beneficial effect of supporting a healthy gut with nuts, consistently including them in your routine is necessary. A study of people who were given almonds for 8 weeks showed an increase in the good bacteria in the gut. The participants in the study ate almonds twice a day, which is probably not possible in everyday life. However, eating nuts and seeds regularly will help support a healthy gut. (Source: NIH)
Below are the health benefits of the most common nuts.
Peanuts are one of the most popular nuts is actually not a nut at all! It is in the legume family so it is related to lentils and peas. The reason it is included as a nut is due to the high oil content. This is why natural peanut butter will have oil at the top of it when it is stored at room temperature. Peanuts contain plant protein, unsaturated fat and complex carbohydrates.
They are known for their role in supporting a healthy heart due to having 50% of monounsaturated fat content. Peanuts also contain resveratrol, the active component in red wine which may reduce cardiovascular disease.
When eating a plant based lifestyle, combining foods to eat a complete protein is very common. With peanuts added to any meal you can get a complete protein. Peanuts contain all 20 essential amino acids! So don't be shy about sprinkling some on a salad. Peanuts are also a low glycemic index food, which is great if you are border line diabetic or a diabetic. (Source: NIH)
Walnuts are most famous for their omega-3 content. In the Standard American Diet (SAD), there is an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3. Omega-6 is a known inflammation promoting nutrient. Eating processed food, fast food, very little fruits and vegetables, will only increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to cause heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Chron's disease and Colitis. (Source: Harvard Health)
Eating foods that are high in omega-3's are the best way to reduce exposure to omega-6. Walnuts are one of those foods! Not only are walnuts high in omega-3's but they are also high in antioxidants and polyphenols which may reduce the risk of cancer.
Walnuts also have been studied to support weight control. A study of 10 obese people, drinking a smoothie made with about 1.75 ounces (48 grams) of walnuts once a day for five days decreased appetite and hunger, compared to a placebo drink equal in calories and nutrients. (Source: Healthline) You many be wondering how many walnuts a day are recommended? Try to eat 1/4 cup whenever you are including them in your routine.
One of my favorite nuts, the almond is full of healthy nutrients. The benefits of eating almonds include supporting a healthy heart, regulating blood sugar, helping with weight control and lowering cholesterol. For some people, almonds are hard to digest. How do you know? Eat some almonds and then look at your bowel movement the next day. If you see undigested almonds in your stool, almonds are hard for you to digest.
The solution is to soak the almonds before eating them. That means buying raw almonds in bulk. Don't buy the almonds that are coated in seasoning. Soak the almonds in water overnight and then peel the skins off. The skins are easily removed once soaked. Then eat the almonds along with another food to aid in digestion. Add them to oatmeal, smoothies or with stewed fruit. Eating them in muffins and quick breads are fine.
A common question about almonds is: do almonds have protein? Almonds are a high protein plant based food. They provide 6 grams of fiber per 23 almonds.
Pecans are cholesterol free, sodium-free and low in carbohydrates. Plus, they are high in EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). EGCG is often associated with green tea. It is an active component that is known to help support a healthy heart, weight loss and reduces inflammation. (Source: NIH) Pecans are also a good source of calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Pistachio's are a great source of protein! Eating 49 nuts provides 6 grams of plant protein, which is great for people who are reducing how much meat they are eating. Pistachios are one of the least processed foods you can eat! "Nature cracks them open on the tree and then they have this really cool machine that just goes on the base of the tree with a big net/shield kind of a thing and then shakes the tree and all the kernels fall down into the container. It gets sent to a drying facility and then roasting. That's it. No human hands touch it during the processing.” (Source: Prevention)
Cashews are a staple in a lot of vegan cooking. They are very versatile and add great texture and flavor to sauces. A serving of cashews provides 28% of the daily value of magnesium. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 actions in the body including healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones.
Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue. (Source: World's Healthiest Foods)
Side Effects of Nuts
One of the first issues with nuts is allergy or sensitivity. For example, it is reported that less than 1% of the population in the United States are allergic to peanuts. (Source: Peanut Allergy Facts) But this does not include sensitivity. A sensitivity may cause unwanted effects such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, headaches or acne to name a few. The easiest way to find out if you are sensitive to any nut is to take a food allergy test.
This can be done at home through Everly Well or The Great Plains Laboratory. If you can't do the at home test, an elimination diet is the next best step. An elimination diet means you stop eating a food for 30 - 56 days. After that timeframe, you add the food back into your routine and see how you feel. If you have any physical symptoms from 2 to 24 hours, you may need to keep the food out of your routine.
Another side effect is they can be difficult to digest. You will know if you have an issue with digesting nuts if you can see them in your stool, undigested. Finally, another side effect can be weight gain. While nuts have a lot of great nutrients, they are generally high in calories. Paying attention to portion size is important.
A common question is: do nuts cause constipation? The answer is no. Nuts have varying fat content. If you are sensitive to higher fat foods, then nuts can actually have the opposite effect. Diarrhea may occur.
Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to get healthy can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help.
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✅Be more present with your children
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✅Have more energy
✅Stop running to the bathroom
✅Workout without fear of an accident or farting
✅Restore your confidence
✅Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life!
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your body and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
Health Benefits of Seeds
You may be surprised that I started with flax seeds but they are a powerful seed that is very beneficial for heart health. Flax seed is high in Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) which is an essential fatty acid. ALA can help prevent cardiovascular disease due to its abilities to lower inflammation, lower cholesterol and help reduce heart arrhythmias. (Source: NIH)
Flax seeds are also a good source of fiber. When we eat enough fiber, we stay fuller longer. That means flax seeds weight loss benefits are real! Plus, the fiber provided by flax seeds is beneficial to the gut by promoting good bacteria populations to keep our gut healthy and able to fight pathogens.
Sunflower seeds are often thought of as a simple topping to be added to salads. However, the benefits of eating sunflower seeds are a healthy heart, reduced inflammation and potential cancer prevention. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, which can reduce the symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. (Source: World's Healthiest Foods)
Sunflower seeds are a good source of selenium. Selenium is needed for healthy reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage by free radicals. (Source: NIH) It is recommended to get selenium from food and not from a supplement. Taking selenium for a long period of time as a supplement may cause toxicity.
This is a favorite of mine! I love eating pumpkin seeds and using them as fillers in homemade veggie burgers. They are a great binder and give a sweet, nutty flavor to veggie burgers. Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, fiber and magnesium just to name a few. Traditionally, pumpkin seeds were eaten for their anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers. Several studies have found that supplementing with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The high fiber in pumpkin seeds helps promote a healthy gut. (Source: Healthline)
You may not be that familiar with hemp seeds but they are a delicious and easy way to increase the amount of omega-3 and plant based protein in your diet. Hemp seeds have been studied to relieve chronic constipation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hemp is prescribed to help relieve pain, induce sleep, and treat nausea associated with chemotherapy. It also has a soothing effect on some nervous disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, and has been used to relieve pressure in the eye caused by glaucoma. (Source: Acupuncture Today)
Hemp seeds are highly regarded as one of the best plant sources of protein. These little seeds pack a powerful punch, as they contain all amino acids, including the nine essential ones the body cannot produce itself. (Source: Joyful Belly) Hemp seeds are very easy to use every day. Put them on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, salads, soups and in smoothies. They are slightly nutty and sweet. You won't be sorry when you try them!
Side Effects of Seeds
As with any new food that you introduce into your routine, paying attention to how your body feels after eating the food is critical. Our physiology is unique. That means every single one of us will feel differently when eating the same food. Taking a food allergy test is the best way to find out if you have an allergy or sensitivity to a specific food. See the side effects of nuts above for the at home allergy tests that you can take.
If you do not have an allergy or sensitivity, you may still have side effects when eating large doses of seeds. For example flax seeds side effects can be gastrointestinal in nature, resulting in gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or stomach ache. Diarrhea may also occur when eating seeds due to their high fat content.
As always, when starting anything new pay attention to any changes that may occur. If you are taking any medications that may react with specific foods, talk to your doctor before adding in the new food.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about the variety of health benefits from nuts and seeds. Nuts are high in protein, healthy fats and fiber. Seeds are high in healthy fats and a wide array of nutrients that can promote a healthy body. Eating nuts and seeds regularly is a delicious way to create healthy habits in your household.
Do you think you will start eating nuts and seeds regularly? Let me know by leaving a comment below.