Nuts about Nuts
It’s the ingredients in our snacks that make them healthy – so we thought we’d write some posts about what it is precisely that makes them healthy. Lots of our snacks contain nuts. They can get a bit of a bad reputation because they look like they have quite a lot of fat and calories. But they also have a significant protein content, and research suggests that despite the fat and calorie content, people who eat nuts regularly tend not to weigh so much.
Not all nuts are created equal though. Peanuts aren’t even nuts (they’re legumes), only walnuts have particularly useful levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids, and coconut might look unhealthy because of its saturated fat content but actually the particular types of saturated fats (which are medium chain rather than long chain) may have health benefits. Understanding the nutritional value of nuts might drive you a bit nuts – but hopefully this introduction to some of the nuts found in the healthy snacks delivered in your Nutribox will clear up some of the confusion.
We love almonds at the Nutribox and not just because they taste good. Ground almonds can be blended into porridge, smoothies, stews, and just about anything else to add protein content which will leave you feeling fuller for longer and avoid blood sugar highs and lows. Almonds are also packed with vitamin E (used by your body for antioxidant protection against every day cell damage) and minerals like magnesium and potassium. Magnesium is used in hundreds of reactions in your body every day from producing adrenaline to helping avoid muscle cramps. Potassium is an important counterbalance for sodium, helping you avoid fluid retention and blood pressure problems.
Brazil nuts don’t just come covered in chocolate at Christmas – these jumbo nuts are found in a number of our fruit and nut mixes. These nuts grow on trees that don’t bear any fruit for the first 15-30 years but they then go on to live productively for 500-800 years. The nut gets it’s name from the fact it is mainly grown in Brazil. Two nuts contain similar numbers of calories to an egg but their key health benefit comes from their selenium content. Selenium is an important mineral for thyroid function – which affects how your body manages and uses energy.
Cashew nuts make a crunchy topping for salads and stir fries and have a relatively low fat content when compared to other nuts. They make up for it with protein and carbohydrate content though, and while not as high in vitamin E as almonds, they contain many useful minerals like magnesium and potassium, and also iron and zinc. Iron is important for transporting oxygen in blood, and zinc can help support immune function. The chilli cashews we’ve included in the Nutribox have proven the popularity of this nut as a healthy snack.
Walnuts are one of the main non-fish sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fats are used in your body to reduce inflammation and maintain healthy cell membranes (important for a range of metabolic functions and making sure your cells can ‘talk’ to each other effectively). Like almonds they are a great source of vitamin E and other antioxidants which can help protect against oxidative stress (see our blog article linked at the bottom of this page for more on that).
Coconut is also found in many of our snacks and it adds sweetness and flavour that we find people either love or hate. One of the most interesting things about coconut (if you’re interested in nutrition) is that it has a very high saturated fat content but these are medium chain rather than long chain fatty acids. This describes the chemical make-up of the fats but what it means is that your body processes the fats in coconut differently to other saturated fats and this doesn’t have such negative health effects. One of the fatty acids in coconut, lauric acid, is in fact only found in one other place in significant amounts in nature – in breast milk.
Nuts are a great source of protein in our healthy snacks, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer because they slow down stomach emptying, and release energy more slowly so they keep you feeling more energetic through the day.
Not tried any healthy nut-packed snacks from the Nutribox yet? Click here to find out how it works.