Top 10 Happy Foods Number 6 – Raw Nuts
by Tyson Hammond
Eating to feel good is something easy we can do to help our body and mind feel content and enjoy our lives a little more. Staying physically healthy is an essential part of keeping mentally and emotionally buoyant. One of the main things we can do to stay physically healthy is to eat good, nutritious food.
Over the next 6 weeks I will introduce you, one every week, to the remaining foods in my Top 10 feel good foods. Foods that work to support all the different chemical reactions that happen within our beautiful bodies to keep us healthy and strong, but most of all elevate our mood!!
Number 6 – Raw Nuts
To put it simply, if you include a small handful of a mixture of raw nuts in your diet everyday your body will be happier and healthier for longer. Raw nuts are one of the superfoods in my opinion. They’re super nutrient dense with a diverse range of easily digestible goodness, like vitamins, minerals, protein, good fats, antioxidants and fibre. I think they’re under-rated as a nutritious food in our modern western diet. Also one of the best things about them is they’re so easily accessible & affordable. Most supermarkets now have a variety of raw nuts to choose, so we’re almost spoilt for choice.
Good fats help you lose weight!!
Well not only that, research has shown there’s a link between not having enough good fats in your diet and depression. So how does fat help you lose weight and help elevate your mood?
The key is in what makes the fat good for you. When I talk about fat I mean oil. The oil that’s in most raw nuts is the Omega oils, Omega-3 and Omega-6. You may have heard them called Essential Fatty Acids, which they are. Whenever the word ‘Essential’ is used to describe a nutrient is means that the body can’t make it or make enough of it to meet it’s needs, therefore it needs to obtain it through food. Your body needs more Omega-3 than it does Omega-6, raw nuts provide the perfect ratio of these oils with more Omega-3 fatty acids.
When nuts are roasted the structure of the oils are changed and a lot of the benefits of these oils are lost as well as other heat intolerant nutrients, such as Vitamin B. So Raw Nuts are always best.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be present in the brain more than any other part of the body and have been shown to improve mental function. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to affect neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, which could explain while much research has shown that people with insufficient levels of these Essential Fatty Acids commonly suffer from mood disorders and depression.
So what about the losing weight part of it, I can hear you ask. Well because nuts are nutrient dense and have a good amount of protein they keep you full for longer suppressing your appetite for other things. Studies have shown that eating Raw Nuts increases the satiety hormone, Leptin, this is the ‘feeling full’ hormone.
Remember as with everything ‘the dose is the poison’. If you were to add a handful of Raw Nuts to your diet and not take anything out of it then you would put on weight. Also, if you were to eat more than a handful of nuts everyday then you’d probably put on weight also. Eating the right amount though at the right time, snack time between meals for example, will help your body get the nutrients it deserves and not fill up of nutrition-less treats. So what is the right amount? 30-40g of Raw Nuts is the recommended amount to eat each day.
Brazil Nuts important for Kiwis
The Selenium in Brazil Nuts makes them important to include in our diets because New Zealand soils are traditionally low in Selenium. This means the food that’s grown in NZ soil won’t have an adequate level of Selenium that we need in our diet. Selenium is an important mineral for our bodies. Deficiencies in Selenium have been linked to diseases such as Hypothyroidism, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lung and Bowel Cancer. Also to problems like infertility, premature aging, cognitive decline, muscle pain and depression. It only takes two to three Brazil nuts a day to help bring the average diet up to meet the recommended daily intake of Selenium.
Spoilt for choice
Here’s all the nuts you can quite easily find an Organic Store or Supermarket and the different ways they are good for your body.
Almonds – immune system, skin, cholesterol levels, bowel function.
Brazil Nuts – heart, immune system, cancer prevention.
Cashews – memory function, iron levels in blood, muscle aches.
Chestnuts – red blood cells, immune system, bowel health.
Hazelnuts – eye health, brain function, heart health.
Macadamias – lowers cholesterol & blood pressure, heart health.
Pecans – immune system, cholesterol levels, brain & heart health.
Pinenuts – digestive health, reduces inflammation, immune system.
Pistachios – nervous system, immune system, muscle & skin health.
Walnuts – cognitive function, heart, reduces inflammation.
Tyson Hammond is a medical herbalist and a naturopath living in Golden Bay. He is currently developing online health programs for ‘Wellgrounded Integrative Healthcare’ a company focused on helping people integrate beneficial and sustainable changes into theirs lives.