What could be simpler than merely tossing together a few wholesome nuts and seeds to come up with the perfect snack or mini-meal for people ‘on-the-go’? Not only are they delicious and cook-free, they come loaded with a nutritional power-punch. No wonder these simple foods have always been relied upon for ‘quick-energy’ for ages - they have been a mainstay for adventurers, soldiers and farmers. Yet, in recent times, the role of nuts has been misunderstood. Following from the ‘low-fat’ craze since the ‘90s, the relatively high fat content of nuts has given them much negative publicity. In fact, frequent nut eaters are less likely to gain weight, as nuts are high in protein and fibre, which help delay absorption and decrease hunger. A growing body of research suggests that people who eat nuts regularly tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of serious diseases. In Nov 2013 the New England Journal of Medicine published findings that confirmed that increased nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of major chronic diseases - especially heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, cancer and respiratory diseases. The healthiest nuts contain two types of ‘good’ fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which may be beneficial for the ‘lining’ of the arteries while also helping to lower the risk of a person developing blood clots. According to Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, eating nuts lowers LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol), raises HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) and also lowers blood pressure. Nut consumption helps boost a process called ‘reverse cholesterol transport’, by which HDL particles in the blood sweep away fatty plaque from clogged arteries. In balance, quite clearly nuts have been under-appreciated, thanks to some myths spread by the ‘being-slim-at-any-cost’ lobby.
Tip of the Week
Nuts can be enjoyed in various recipes and can help replace the ‘regular’ dairy butter with a nut-based bread spread. Crunchy or smooth variations of Almond Butter are a great example. And ‘Trail Mix’ is a good example of a nut-based mini-meal or snack on-the-go. It is a mix of bite-sized ingredients, which is convenient, easy–to-store and travels well. Trail Mix typically includes nuts, seeds and dried fruit tossed together – either uncooked or lightly roasted. It is perfect for carrying to work or to school, during a long drive or as ‘travel food’. It is lightweight, filling, nutritious and requires no refrigeration. Recipes for ‘Trail Mix’ can vary as per individual taste. As far as possible, choose ‘unsalted’, ‘organic’ and ‘non-roasted’ variants. A ‘DIY’ (Do-It-Yourself) Trail Mix is easy to throw together. For best results, the flavours and textures should be balanced with contrasts, thus perking up the mix for better taste and nutrition. A mix of salty, sweet and sour tastes, having both a chewy component (dried fruit) and sufficient ‘crunch’ can be very interesting. Dried fruits can be selectively added for a touch of sweetness. People with nut allergies can rely on seeds, like: immunity building pumpkin seeds (pepitas), Omega 3 rich cold-pressed flax seeds, Folate & Vitamin E rich sunflower seeds, calcium & magnesium rich sesame seeds and chia seeds. Dried berries – like Goji – or dried tart cherries are also perfect additions to a Trail Mix.
For Education purposes only; always consult a Healthcare Practitioner for medical conditions