Friday, 26 June 2009


“Mellow nuts have the hardest rind” - Sir Walter Scott

Most people seem to think that eating nuts is not good for their health because they contains lots of calories and fats. However, a great deal of research has now found that the nuts are very beneficial for health. Nuts are full of proteins, are good sources of fibre, vitamin E, folic acid, copper, magnesium and the amino acid arginine. If people add nuts to their regular diet, many health benefits ensue. Fats present in nuts are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated which have ability to lower LDL cholesterol, (“bad” cholesterol, which is a contributory factor for heart disease). Research has shown that if a diet regimen includes nuts, it can lower the chance of heart disorders.

Nuts can be a great source of energy and because they contain ample amounts of antioxidants, they also have an anti-ageing action. Nuts are a major source of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E. The more often nuts are eaten the better as the benefits appear to increase as the frequency of nut consumption increases. The risk of fatal coronary disease and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes both appear to decrease steadily as nut consumption increases from less than once a week to once or more per day.

Just what quantity of nuts should be eaten? Studies suggest that 30 to 60 grams of nuts should be consumed daily to gain the maximum benefits seen. Whether even larger amounts confer further benefits is currently unknown. Which nuts are best? The definitive answer to this question is currently unknown. In most studies peanuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamias and small proportions of others are usually investigated.

There are a few problems with nuts you should be aware of.
Aflatoxin: Peanuts are among the top three crops that are subject to infestation by moulds that produce aflatoxin, a potent human carcinogen. The toxin has been found in both peanuts and peanut butter, as well as corn, rice, wheat, soybeans, and sorghum. Testing peanuts and peanut products is regularly carried out by government bodies to ensure that they do not exceed acceptable levels of aflatoxin.

Allergies: Peanuts and tree nuts are both on the list of the eight most common allergens. Children are more likely to develop allergies if their parents or siblings suffer from allergies to legumes or nuts, but even those with no family history of allergies are susceptible. It is recommended that particularly in families with histories of peanut allergies, nursing mothers should not consume peanuts and tree nuts. It is also advised that children under the age of three not eat peanuts.

Environmental: Pesticides abound in the production of nuts. Endosulfan, Cyfluthrin, Phosmet, Atrazine, and Diazinon, are all used widely in nut production. Continued exposure of even small amounts can be toxic. Once harvested, nuts are often fumigated with methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide. While methyl bromide probably won't cause any harm to you when you eat nuts or other treated crops, it is quite dangerous for the farm workers who use it. Also, it is such a large factor in ozone depletion that the countries around the world are phasing out its use.

Nuts are sold in many different forms. Whole nuts, still in their shells are less expensive and will last up to a year without going rancid. Keep them in a cool, dry place. Shelled nuts especially if they're roasted, may last longer if they are kept in the fridge. If you plan on storing them longer than six months, consider putting them in the freezer. On the whole it can be confidently said that nuts are amazingly and surprisingly power-packed food. They provide a unique protection against heart related diseases as well as having anti-ageing properties. They are a good source of energy as well.

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