There are tons of health benefits of nuts and seeds. They are one of the easiest ways to get protein, healthy fats and lots of minerals on a plant based diet. Nuts and seeds are vital to a wide range of different bodily functions it’s unfortunate they get caught up in marketing scares for being too fatty.
As it turns out they actually promote weight loss and a healthy heart! If you need more excuses to munch away on your favorite savory delights read on!
It’s no coincidence that walnuts are at the top of so many lists of healthy foods these days. Aside from being a great source of monounsaturated fat and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, they also contain some rare phytonutrients and vitamins.
It’s important for us to eat walnuts because they contain several phytonutients that aren’t found in other common ingredients. These rare phytonutrients contribute towards walnuts’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Walnuts also contain a form of vitamin E which aids in heart protection for men.
Walnuts main claim to fame is their pro-heart health status. (And this time it’s not just for the gentlemen.) Including walnuts in your diet can help you to lower your LDL cholesterol, decreases inflammation, and can increase the flexibility of blood vessels. Other health benefits of walnuts include anti-cancer properties (mainly for prostate cancer and breast cancer), support for bone health and also for metabolic health.
You’ll find with many nuts and seeds that they have similar health benefits. Almonds are similar to walnuts in that they provide oodles of benefits to the heart and overall cardiovascular health. Eating almonds can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and the vitamin E found in this seed can help prevent the risk of heart disease.
Almonds are also a great source of magnesium and potassium in your diet. Magnesium has been known to help veins and arteries stay healthy and lower resistance of blood flow. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate blood pressure. Overall, almonds are a fabulous dietary source of nutrients that can help you protect your heart.
Just a quarter cup of cashews provides you with 38% of your daily value of copper. Cashews have most of the heart healthy benefits other nuts have but I think their main advantage is their copper. Copper is vital to a whole range of bodily functions like development of melanin which gives your hair and skin its color and luster. It also is important in energy production, free-radical elimination, development of bones and tissues and keeps your blood vessels supple. So as you can see it’s quite important to get enough copper in your diet. Doing so will make you beautiful inside and out!
Copper isn’t cashew’s only shining star though. The little delicious nut also provides the body with magnesium which is used to keep bones strong and to regulate the calcium uptake in cells. This means that if you have enough of it in your diet your cells and muscles will be more relaxed which lends itself to lower blood pressure, fewer muscle spasms, less soreness and fatigue. So if you’re doing any amount of athletic training, magnesium should be one of your best buds along the way and you can find 25% of your recommended daily value in a quarter cup of cashews!
Remember making jack-o-lanterns as a kid? I loved getting my hands dirty with all the pumpkin guts and as I did my mom would pick out the seeds, wash them and lightly roast them. Turns out it was one of the healthiest snacks she could have given to us. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas have lots of great minerals (like magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc), protein (awesome for a plant based diet) and monounsaturated fats (perfect for heart health and good cholesterol)!
Now for the men in the audience: pumpkin seeds beneficial effects on your body are two-fold.
1. They promote prostate health which is important because many men past middle-aged experience problems with prostate gland enlargement due in part to the abundance of testosterone overstimulating prostate cells. Pumpkin seed oil can help negate this effect and other components of pumpkin seeds aid in this effort too. Carotenoids, omega-3 fats and zinc all have potential benefits for prostate health.
2. The second reason for men to enjoy pumpkin seeds regularly is that the zinc in them helps support healthy bone mineral density. This goes a long way in keeping fears of osteoporosis and hip fractures at bay as you age.
Everyone should enjoy eating pumpkin seeds though because they are a wonderful plant source of minerals, are anti-inflammatory and have lots of health benefits for both genders!
Flax seeds provide a great alternative source of ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which is an omega-3 fat found in fish. So if you’re not a pescatarian and chose not to take fish oil supplements flax seeds are for you.
This omega-3 fat helps out our bodies in so many ways as you’ve seen in many of the other nuts and seeds on this page. The omega-3 fats found in flax seeds help protect bone health, help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy, aid in cell membrane flexibility and cell health. This is important for fighting free-radicals, which are cancer causing toxins.
The anti-inflammatory benefits from flax seeds also aid in a slew of other undesirable states. Inflammation plays a key role in many conditions, from severe headaches to arthritis to osteoporosis but consuming omega-3 fats can help reduce that inflammation.
Flax seeds also provide great benefits for women including protection against breast cancer and regulation of estrogen. This promotes a regular ovulation cycle and prolongs the second half of the menstrual cycle which is progesterone heavy. It is typical for middle-aged women to experience estrogen fluctuations and decreased progesterone levels. This causes a wide range of symptoms associated with hormone imbalance like headaches, breast cysts, sleep difficulties and many more unwanted problems. Because flax seeds help to regulate the ovulation cycle, hormone levels tend to be more balanced.
Nuts and seeds are one of the best ways to ensure you maximize your health potential while you eat a vegetarian (or vegan) diet. I hope you learned a thing or two from this collection of facts about the health benefits of nuts.
If you can’t wait to put your knowledge to good use check out this spiced nuts recipe (you can make them savory or sweet!) and they’re definitely a crowd pleaser.