Nuts and Seeds: Nutritional Powerhouses
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods that exist. Popular varieties include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Each type of nut or seed offers unique nutritional benefits, but they all contain fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and protein. With such an impressive nutrient profile, adding nuts and seeds to your diet may help you prevent disease and lose weight.
Don’t believe us? Read on to learn about four of the most impressive benefits of nuts and seeds.
1 – Loaded with Fiber
Nuts and seeds are rich in fiber. An ounce of almonds (~23 nuts) has approximately 3.5 grams of fiber (14% of the DV), whereas an ounce of chia seeds has a whopping 10 grams (40% of the DV)!
Eating high fiber foods promotes regular bowel movements, helps stabilize blood sugars, and may help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of certain types of cancer.
Even more, loading up on fiber can help you feel full and satisfied and prevent overconsumption, leading to weight loss.
2 – Rich in Healthy Fats
There was a time when nuts and seeds were demonized for their fat content. Since fat has more calories than proteins and carbs, weight loss experts shunned nuts and seeds in fear of their calories.
Nowadays, we know that the fats in nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious and provide numerous health benefits. When consumed in the recommended portions, these nutritional powerhouses will not cause weight gain.
In particular, nuts and seeds contain mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fats, types of healthy fats that help lower cholesterol and fight inflammation in the body.
3 – Contain Beneficial Antioxidants
Antioxidants help fight oxidative stress and free radicals in the body that can harm cells and lead to disease.
Consuming nuts and seeds, especially those that are rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E, can help combat free radicals and prevent cell damage. Almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are all particularly high in antioxidants.
4 – High in Plant Protein
Protein isn’t just found in animal foods. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of plant protein.
One ounce of pistachios (~49 nuts) has over six grams of protein, compared to nine grams of protein in an ounce of chicken breast.
Getting some of your protein from nuts and seeds instead of from animal products can help you cut back on your consumption of less healthy types of animal proteins, such as fried, breaded, or processed meats. Plus, you’ll get a healthy dose of healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants that meats do not provide.
To reap the amazing benefits of nuts and seeds, you can add them to your meals and snacks in several easy ways. Start by adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to your morning smoothie, eating your afternoon piece of fruit with peanut butter, or topping your evening stir fry with chopped peanuts.
But remember, be mindful of your portions if weight loss is your goal. A recommended serving of nuts or seeds is typically one ounce.
Note from Healthy for Life Meals: We incorporate many different nuts and seeds into our menu! By getting started with one of our plans today, you can reap the benefits of these nutritional powerhouses without having to plan or prep meals yourself. Check out our menu here!