Nuts and seeds are very popular as well as healthy and nutritious snack among individuals. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. In addition to being excellent sources of protein, nuts and seeds have many other benefits, they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and other chemicals that may prevent cancer and heart disease. Although many people are hesitant to eat nuts because they are high in fat, eating nuts can provide a sense of fullness or satisfaction that actually causes you to eat less of other high-calorie, high fat foods. Eating nuts and seeds are a great way to add vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids (like omega 3 and omega 6), to your diet. Some great choices include almonds, cashews, flaxseeds (ground), peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Some of the healthiest seeds and nuts along with their benefits are as follows-:
Almonds – Almonds are preferably high in PUFA, with a total of 12.1 grams per 100 grams, most of it is omega-6 fatty acid. They are a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and riboflavin. There are certain wild almonds which are highly toxic due to the presence of a compound that breaks into cyanide but modern domesticated almonds don’t contain that compound. Eating almonds can lower bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, provide protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, boost energy, and help to prevent gallstones. Whole almonds (with skins) provide the most heart-healthy benefits.
Cashews – Cashews are high in antioxidants and have a lower fat content than most other nuts. These are moderately low in PUFA, with a total of 7.8 grams per 100 grams most of it is omega-6 fatty acid. Cashews are also a good source of monounsaturated fats, copper, magnesium and phosphorous. Eating cashews promotes good cardiovascular health, even in individuals with diabetes.
Walnuts – Walnuts are very high in PUFA with a total of 47.2 grams per 100 grams with a fair amount of omega 3 fatty acid. They are a good source of magnesium, manganese and copper. Eating walnuts may benefit your cardiovascular system, improve cholesterol in individuals with type 2 diabetes, help brain functions, protect bone health, and help to prevent gallstones. Walnuts also have bio-available melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology(Oct. 17, 2006) found that eating walnuts after a meal high in unhealthy fats can reduce the damaging effects of such fats on blood vessels. Walnuts also contain l-arginine, which is an essential amino acid that the body uses to produce nitric oxide, necessary for keeping blood vessels flexible.
Peanuts – Peanuts are a good source of heart-healthy monosaturated fat, flavonoids , antioxidants, phytosterols, phytic acid and folic acid, making them heart-healthy, a good way to reduce your risk of stroke, and possibly even cancer. Peanuts are also a good source of vitamin B3 (niacin), folate, copper, manganese, and protein, and are a significant source of resveratrol, a chemical studied for potential anti-aging effects. Peanuts and peanut butter may also help prevent gallstones and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Flaxseeds – Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds may provide anti-inflammatory benefits, protect your bones, and protect against heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes. Eating flaxseeds also lowers blood pressure in men with high cholesterol. Flaxseeds are also rich in fiber and manganese and are a good source of folate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), magnesium, phosphorous, and copper, and lignan phytonutrients. Have a tsp in salads or in curd daily to get maximum benefits.
Pumpkin seeds – Eating the green, hulled, pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) may promote prostate health, protection for men’s bones, anti-inflammatory benefits for those with arthritis, and help lower cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the essential fatty acids, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper, protein, and vitamin K.
Sesame seeds – Sesame seeds and tahini are rich in beneficial minerals. Not only are sesame seeds a very good source of manganese and copper, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1 (thiamin), zinc, dietary fiber, and healthy (monosaturated) fats. They contain powerful antioxidants called lignans, which are also anti-carcinogenic. They also contain phytosterols, which block cholesterol production. Sesame contains one lignan unique to it called sesamin. Eating sesame seeds may help lower cholesterol, provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis, and support vascular and respiratory health. The nutrients of sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption.
Sunflower seeds – Eating sunflower seeds may help provide anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits, lower cholesterol, and prevent cancer. Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), dietary fiber, protein, and minerals such as magnesium and selenium, and are high in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
How much should I have?
One serving of nuts or seeds is about a ¼ cup or 60 ml.This amounts should just fit into the palm of your hand. .Nuts and seeds are healthy choices, but be careful not to overdo the quantity. They are high in fat so the calories can add up quickly!
GUIDELINES FOR EATING NUTS AND SEEDS
Here are certain tips for incorporating nuts and seeds into your diet.
* Nuts and seeds are best eaten raw and unsalted.
* Store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness.
* If you enjoy nuts and seeds roasted, roast them yourself in the oven.
* If you can’t eat nuts and seeds without salt, buy them raw, roast them and sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt.
* Nuts and seeds make a great addition to salads (instead of croutons), stir-fries and oatmeal.
* Nut butters are easier to digest, but stick to ½-1 tsp in a day
* Although nuts and seeds offer many benefits, too much of this good thing can wreak havoc on your waistline and digestion. Stick to 1 to 2 ounces per day.
Vegetarians often feel left out that there are not much protein options available in their diet as compared to their non-vegetarian counterparts. Chicken, eggs, lean meats, red meats, fishes are popularly known as the good sources of protein. The good news is that there are plenty of protein options available for vegetarians to meet the daily protein requirement. Contrary to the belief an average individual only requires approximately one gram of protein per kg of body weight to meet the daily protein requirement intake. Extra protein gets stored as fat in the body.
Protein helps in the building of muscle fiber and for various other functions of the body. Protein is required by the body for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells. It is also essential for the synthesis of antiboidies which fight infection and is the main nutrient for our hair, nails etc.
Best Vegetarian Protein Sources
Yogurt: Yogurt and Greek yogurt both are healthy options for protein. One cup of yogurt can provide you with 14 gm of protein and more ever with other nutrition as well. Opt for a plain yogurt than the sweetened and flavored one as it is less in sugar and other additives. Yogurt boosts bone health, promotes colon health and boosts immunity. Greek yogurt contains more protein than the regular yogurt.
Soybean: Soyabean is one of the richest vegetarian protein source and is rich in carbohydrates, fats and other important vitamins and minerals. Men should eat less of soy products as they are high in female hormones and excess consumption could cause man boobs. Other soy products are equally healthy for protein. Like tofu, soymilk etc are all healthy sources of protein. Read more
Are putting on weight due to snacking? We all know that eating at odd hours leads to weight gain. But how do you deal with hunger pangs without starving yourself. To answer one of the most common dilemmas of how to control snacking we have put together a list of healthy snacks alongside some not so healthy snacks. This is done to explain why you should be eating this and not that.
Before we move on to the healthy vs unhealthy snack list you need to understand snacks are just fillers or small bites. Most people eat snacks like a meal and thats where the problem starts. When one samosa becomes two or one sandwich becomes two sandwiches.
To elaborate a little bit more here are some points to note
While snacking eat slowly and enjoy every bite that you eat. Eating slowly makes you chew the food properly and eat less also. This helps you in managing portion and not over eating.
Don’t snack on empty calories even though you can manage the portion because it will add no nutrition and only calories.
Lets further explain it with an example on how to control your calories better if you are on a weight loss routine. A man weighing 80 kgs and 175 cms would approximately require 2000 calories in a single day. To break it further he would have a daily quota of 250 calories for 2 snacks in a day. While a women weighing 50 kg and 5 feet 2 inches would require approximately 1400 calories in a day and 175 calories each for snacking twice in a day. This means you can divide your snack for once during mid morning and once in the routine evening. But remember snacking includes your tea/coffee/coke/lemonade etc! Read more
Kids need a filling and nutritious diet for growth and unhealthy foods will slow down their growth if the daily nutrition is not met accordingly. From carbohydrates for energy to go non-stop through out the day, the amino acids from protein to build muscle and recover them, vitamins and minerals for healthy functioning of organs and chemical reactions in the body
and fat for good cholesterol and cushioning of organs.
Though kids like foods that are surprising and delightful to their taste buds. Get creative with your recipes and start making your food nutritious and attractive. Here are foods for kids to kep them healthy. Give your child plenty of options ranging from chocolates to everything that they like.
Cornflakes with milk and fruits: We all feed our kids with cornflakes but make it more healthy with adding fruits to it. Include the fruit that your kids like eating. Strawberry, grapes, nuts, seeds, apples, bananas etc. This meal will provide your kid with carbs, protein and essential vitamins and minerals along with iron to improve metabolism.
Eggs: Eggs provide a lot of satiety and protein, vitamins and minerals. Make it healthier by adding a slice of cheese or add a few slices of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber etc. The meal will keep the kids feel fuller and have lots of nutrition for a good growth.
Sandwiches: What about adding a slice of lean meat for non-vegetarians and cottage cheese for veggies ? Play around with your stuffing options with boiled mashed potatoes, cheese slice, tuna or vegetables. Choose whole grain bread or multiflour bread to make it more healthy.
Drinks: Say no to aerated drinks including the cola’s and sweetened sodas as they would add empty calories which is not healthy for a childs growth. Provide other varities from fresh fruit juice, lemonade, buttermilk, banana milk shake, mango shake and other shakes with fruits, nuts and seeds.
Walnuts: For healthy functioning of mind omega fatty acids are equally important. Walnuts, flaxseed and fish products like salmon, tuna etc are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids which are important for developement of childs brain.
You can pick lots more healthy options for your child. Keep foods providing empty calories and junk that add no nutrition away from their diets. Use less oil in the food and avoid fried foods. Follow these basics and keep your kids healthy.
Fat has an important role to play in the smooth functioning of body just like how protein is important for muscle building, carbohydrates for energy and vitamins and minerals for other nutrition. The minimum requirement of essential fat for men is 2-5% and women is 10-12%, anything below which physical and psychological health would be effected. When one consumes fat more than the daily requirement it then it gets stored in the belly, thighs and all over the body. Fat helps in healthy cell function and keeps the skin healthy and stores energy in the body and provides 9 calories per 1 gm of fat.
Essential fat is required for brain functioning, bone marrows, central nervous system muscles and healthy functioning of the body
It provides cushion to internal organs of the chest and abdomen. These essential fats are often confused with the bad fats that increase the LDL bad Cholesterol. Essential fats actually increase the HDL good cholesterol levels improving heart health and improves the flow of blood in the arteries.
Here is a list of Fatty foods for good health
Did you know that veggies can help build muscle too? Here’s a list of vegetables that can help you build muscle:
Beans/Legumes- All beans and legumes have protein, carbohydrates and fiber. The carbohydrates are slow releasing carbohydrates that supply long lasting energy for your daily routine and workouts. The fiber helps to clean your arteries and we all know protein is used to repair muscle damage and build new muscle. Examples of these are black beans, kidney beans (rajma), chick peas (chole), all types of dals.
Nuts- Nuts like, peanuts, almonds and walnuts are loaded with protein, unsaturated fat, fiber and antioxidants and Vitamin E. Recent studies have shown that almonds can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce waist size. Nuts are also packed with protein for building muscle. Eat them raw, roasted, or chop some into your breakfast oatmeal/cereal
Potatoes- Yes, the much maligned scapegoat vegetable, blamed by many for their weight gain problems, can actually help you gain muscle. Its packed with carbohydrates, fiber, protein, minerals like Iron and Vitamins. Raw, or steamed, it has negligible fat content. Have some mashed potatoes (without the cream/butter) with your post workout meal, to add healthy carbohydrates. These will help to repair the damaged muscle and grow new muscle. In fact, potatoes help you lose weight.