I don’t know whether you’re anything like me when I was a kid (I sincerely hope not for your sake), but I only ever used to eat nuts at Christmas.
It was nothing to do with the taste – I loved them. Still do, as it happens. It’s just they were, well, too fiddly.
Possessing an every-shade-of-brown-under-the-sun twist-pile carpet (it was the 70’s), you’d often find a piece of Christmas nut shell shrapnel with the ball of an unsuspecting foot lurking in that pile – in March!
Yep – fiddly they were. Brazil nuts showed me up for the wimp I was back then and, after all of that effort, was what you found beneath the shell worth it? Subconsciously, my mind guessed not.
Thankfully, my opinion of nuts has changed since getting into nutrition, weight loss and exercise.
Forget everything bad you may have heard about nuts!
Rather than the bad reputation they’ve had for being fatty more recently, nuts are actually extremely grand sources of mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, the healthy fats.
They also contain a whole host of complex vitamins and minerals and can help stave off all sorts of conditions and diseases from High LDL Cholesterol to some cancers, it’s been suggested.
We’re not talking exotic nuts like Coconuts or Macadamia nuts, either. Four of the most common (Christmastime) nuts on grocers’ shelves year-round are as good as most others when it comes to benefiting your body and mind, as well as supporting a workout programme.
So, let’s take a look, in no particular order, which four nuts we’re talking about and an overview of said benefits.
I’ll start with hazelnuts as they were the most dominant in our bowl come Christmastime. And follow up with the other three in tomorrow’s e-mail as nuts do excite me tremendously. Quite.
Despite being one of the easiest to crack, Hazelnuts are a brilliant all-rounder, looking after your skin, heart, blood-flow, cholesterol and metabolism.
It’s true.The vitamin E they contain is good for all of your extremities, conditioning your hair and nails as well as being good for your epidermis – skin, to you and me.
Hazelnuts’ Vitamin B content boosts energy metabolism, burning calories more efficiently in addition to helping your body’s cell regeneration properties.
The minerals contained within, namely calcium, magnesium and potassium, work in tandem with your heart to help regulate blood pressure.
If you’re taking your first steps into a gym or haven’t seen a set of dumbells for x amount of years, you’ll be glad of everything that can keep your heartbeat somewhere it needs to be to get around the course.
As with most nuts, the fats in hazelnuts are predominantly poly- and mono-unsaturated, whereas saturate are at a minimum in comparison.
Combine these healthy fats with the oleic acid in hazelnuts and you’ve got a veritable hoover for removing LDL cholesterol (bad for you) and an amplifier for HDL cholesterol (very good for you) ready to clean up your blood stream.
If you’re budgeting for snacks in your diet, a handful of these make for a perfect nibble, especially when consumed with a half-litre of water.
They’re surprisingly filling and push all of the right buttons for a sustained diet and exercise program.
Join me in the next article when we’ll look at the additional benefits of almonds, Brazil nuts and the super-duper walnut.