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When Food Becomes Treatment: Health Benefits of Nuts and Seeds

Posted on April 07 2021

You are what you eat is a common saying that gets thrown around when the topic of diet and eating healthily comes up. While it can be easily dismissed, it’s a more accurate saying than you might expect. Your body uses the food you consume to build new tissue, bone, muscle, skin, hair, and any and every other part of you that is rebuilt throughout your life. When you look at it that way, the impact that what you eat has on your body and health becomes easier to understand. Nuts and seeds in particular offer a variety of health benefits to those who consume them.

Antioxidants

As your body processes the food you eat and reacts to various stimuli from your environment, it produces molecules known as free radicals. This waste product can cause damage to your cells and has been linked to multiple health problems. Antioxidants are thought to help neutralise free radicals, protecting cells from damage and promoting your overall health. Nuts and oily seeds are rich in antioxidants, specifically vitamin E and selenium. These antioxidants protect your body in different ways. Vitamin E is found in cell membranes and helps prevent the formation of free radicals. Selenium, on the other hand, works throughout your cells to destroy peroxides.

A Great Source of Fibre

One of the things nuts and seeds are known for is being a good source of dietary fibre. Fibre contributes to feelings of satiety, which can help you control your weight if you are using hunger cues to dictate when you should be eating and how much. Additionally, consuming fibre promotes good digestive health, as it adds bulk to stools and makes them easier to pass. This reduces the straining you might otherwise engage in when eliminating bodily waste. Straining puts pressure on your veins, and can exacerbate varicose veins if you have them. Consuming fibre won’t make them go away, but it can reduce your risk of developing them and can lessen the symptoms you experience. If you want to get rid of existing varicose veins, you’ll need to seek medical treatment. While there are multiple minimally invasive treatment options for varicose veins, taking preventative steps like eating high-fibre foods is a better option.

Protecting Your Heart

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United Kingdom. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of coronary heart disease in the UK. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of substances within the walls of your arteries, including cholesterol. When the plaque breaks off, it can end up clogging your arteries, cutting off blood flow. When this happens to the heart’s blood vessels, you suffer a heart attack. Atherosclerosis is typically thought to be a heart-related disease, but it can happen in any of your arteries. There are two types of cholesterol - high density lipoproteins (HDL), and low density lipoproteins (LDL). LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol and is the primary culprit when it comes to cholesterol buildup. Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids help reduce the presence of LDL cholesterol, protecting the arteries in your heart and throughout the rest of your body.

Which Ones Are Best?

There isn’t a single nut or seed that is clearly superior to the others in every regard. Some nuts and seeds offer more benefits in one area than others, while others are superior in yet another nutritional offering. Walnuts, for example, have the highest antioxidant content when it comes to nuts, twice as much as other varieties. Pecans are also a good source of antioxidants and can help you lower your “bad” cholesterol levels. Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Brazil nuts are incredibly high in selenium. Be careful with these ones though. Just a single Brazil nut gives you more than 100% of your daily value of selenium. As for seeds, flax seeds are an excellent source of protein. Hemp seeds have the complete collection of all of your essential amino acids. If you want to capitalise on the benefits you can have as a result of eating nuts and seeds, it’s best to consume a variety. Be aware of the portions you consume. They make a great snack or addition to a meal, but it can be easy to overdo it when it comes to the calories you consume from them.

The benefits you can obtain by eating nuts and seeds are incredibly valuable to your health. They are a great source of antioxidants and fibre, and can help protect the health of your heart. To get the most benefit, include a variety of nuts and seeds in your diet, keeping in mind the portions you consume.

Read this next: 5 Important Habits for a Healthy Life

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