Why You Should Go Nuts For Nuts—If You Don’t Suffer From Allergies

When it comes to fruit, we generally refer to the fresh and refreshing kinds while the dry oily ones, a.k.a nuts, are often demonized for their “attacks” on our body shape. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Firstly, nuts are quite commonly used in summertime, adding flavor to our favorite cool-down foods. Take ice-cream as example; imagine the chill of a delicious and inviting hazelnut- or pistachio-flavored ice-cream that also offers you added nutritional benefits. In fact, those among us, myself included, who prefer nuts to fresh fruit as a natural ingredient in ice-cream may find it more nutritionally advantageous to have these seeds in our diets than not—unless, of course, one has to avoid them due to allergy problems.
High in proteins and particularly caloric, nuts are a staple food in the diet of vegetarians and athletes. Thanks to their richness in fiber and a high content of excellent mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, dry oily fruits manifest a protective action against diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity. In order to make these benefits palpable, nuts should be consumed sparingly and in place of animal fats. Again, they should be eaten as snacks contextualized in combination with fresh fruit (e.g., an apple and a few almonds, or a kiwi and a few walnuts). In any case, a reasonable portion of nuts should not exceed 20 grams.
Whole nuts, sold with their shell, have a nutritional profile more stable than their chopped or shelled versions. In fact, the latter’s fats are more exposed to oxidation, thus diminishing the shelf-life of the product. Also, roasted nuts have fewer vitamins than raw ones, as heat denatures the vitamin configuration.

Below are listed the main nutritional values for the most commonly consumed nuts:

(Per 100 g)

Hazelnuts

Walnuts

Pine nuts

Peanuts

Almonds

Pistachios

Energy
628 kcal 618 kcal 673 kcal 567 kcal 575 kcal 562 kcal
Carbohydrate
16.7 g 9.9 g 13.1 g 16.1 g 21.7 g 27.5 g
Sugars
4.3 g 1.1 g 3.6 g 4 g 3.9 g 7.7 g
Fat
60.7 g 59 g 68.4 g 49.2 g 49.4 g 45.4 g
Saturates
4.5 g 3.4 g 4.9 g 6.8 g 3.7 g 5.6 g
Mono-unsaturates
45.6 g 15 g 18.8 g 24.4 g 31 g 23.8 g
Poly-unsaturates
7.9 g 35.1 g 34.1 g 15.6 g 12.1 g 13.7 g
Protein
14.9 g 24 g 13.4 g 25.8 g 21.2 g 20.3 g
Fiber
9.7 g 6.8 g 3.7 g 8.5 g 12.2 g 10.3 g
Vitamin E
15 mg 1.8 mg 9.3 mg 8.3 mg 26.2 mg 2.3 mg
Iron
4.7 mg 3.1 mg 5.5 mg 4.6 mg 3.7 mg 4 mg
Calcium
114 mg 61 mg 16 mg 92 mg 264 mg 105 mg
Magnesium
163 mg 201 mg 251 mg 168 mg 268 mg 121 mg
Potassium
680 mg 523 mg 597 mg 705 mg 705 mg 1,025 mg
Phosphorus
290 mg 513 mg 575 mg 376 mg 484 mg  490 mg

Source: valori-alimenti.com

 

What’s worth noticing is that:

  • nuts are low in carbohydrates (from 10 to 30%) and high in fats (from 45 to 60%), if we consider that a balanced diet carbohydrates should consist of 50-60% of the total macro-nutrients, and fats up to 30%;
  • the prevailing fatty acid components of overall fat are healthy mono-unsaturates and polyunsaturates;
  • vitamin E, a liposoluble vitamin of functional benefit to skin’s health, is particularly abundant in almonds and hazelnuts.

 

When consuming packaged nuts paired with ready-to-eat chopped dried fruits (prunes, raisins, apricots, dates, figs, etc.)—which, in turn, are low in fats and high in carbohydrates—I suggest checking for the presence of sulfur dioxide in the ingredients list of the packaged product as this substance, a preservative, may cause sensitivity for people with breathing diseases (asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema), even if in very rare cases.

I personally like to have nuts alone, without pairing them with dried fruits, not only because I don’t like sweetened stuff in general, but also because I find eating nuts still raw in their shells and/or added to a salad to be healthier. Again, nuts always work well as natural ingredients in the formulation of sought-after ice-creams, chocolates or spreads.