Go Nuts for Nuts
They say that good things come in small packages. If actual proof of this exists, it can be found in the nutritious and tasty nut. Most nuts are healthy powerhouses, packing serious nutritional punch into just a small handful. As far as snacks are concerned, nuts are one of the most nutritious options available, yet nearly forty percent of Americans do not indulge in these crunchy little gems. This might be because nuts do have a reputation for being high in calories and fat, which they are, however the fats are of the good variety and with a little portion control, nuts are actually no higher in calories than some of your other favorite snacks. In fact, they can even help cut your total daily caloric intake because they leave you satisfied longer than other common snack options. While nuts can be a great addition to your diet for this reason alone, the real value can be found in the many ways that just an ounce or two a day can benefit your health and your appearance.
Each time you pop a walnut, almond or another type of nut into your mouth you are introducing a myriad of nutrition into your body. Nuts are packed with fiber, protein, healthy unsaturated fats, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc and copper, all of which are vital components of a healthy body and glowing skin. If you are looking for a way to boost your overall health, and achieve radiant, healthy skin adding nuts to your diet is the way to go. Here are just a few of the amazing, nutty benefits:
- Nuts can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Nuts can offer protection against cardiovascular disease
- Nuts can help prevent metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes
- Nuts are an anti-inflammatory food
- Nuts, when consumed in moderation, can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight
- Nuts are packed with antioxidants
- Nuts can make your skin look plumper, smoother and younger looking because they naturally boost collagen production
- Nuts can help counter the inflammation of acne
- Nut promote the regeneration of skin cells, giving you fresher, more radiant looking skin
Before you go out and stock up your pantry with can, bags and jars of nuts, it is important to note that not all nuts are created equal in regards to nutrition or the associated healthy benefits. If you want to add the best nuts for health and beauty to your diet, start by incorporating these nut-ritious staples.
The walnut has well-deserved reputation of being one of the healthiest nuts available. Walnuts are very high in Omega 3 fats. In fact, they are one of the only commonly eaten varieties of nuts that contain significant amounts of the omega 3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid. Walnuts also contain a powerful amount of vitamins from the B family, as well as vitamin E, copper and manganese.
Walnuts are good for your entire body, from head to toe and everything in between. For starters, walnuts can actually make you smarter. Numerous studies have linked the regular consumption of walnuts with improved cognitive function, memory and critical thought processes. One study in particular noticed an improvement in brain function in subjects that were suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries. Walnuts also protect cardiovascular health and help ease inflammation that is associated with various health conditions.
If you are looking to beautify your skin as naturally as possible, walnuts can help you out in that area as well. The B vitamins found in walnuts help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and even out your skin tone. A double sided benefit of walnuts is that they help to level out insulin levels. Not only does this help protect you from developing type II diabetes, it helps control the damage that insulin spikes cause on your body’s natural collagen production and the effects on your skin.
Another widely popular healthy nut is the ever versatile almond. Just one ounce of almonds contains six grams of protein, nearly forty percent of the RDA of vitamin E, and twenty percent of the RDA of magnesium. An interesting and little known fact about almonds is that you cannot even absorb all of the fat that is present in a serving because it is simply too difficult for your body to break down. This doesn’t make them a guilt-free snack, but it does make them slightly more diet-friendly than they originally seem. There is even some evidence that suggests that a serving of almonds a day can boost your metabolic rate, making it easier for you to get rid of those extra unwanted pounds that might be hanging around.
The idea of almonds being a diet-friendly food is great, but that is hardly the limit of their deserved accolades. The almond’s high level of vitamin E means that with each serving you are providing your body with the antioxidants necessary to help support and protect yourself from cellular damage. There are so many serious health conditions that are the cumulative result of a process that begins with minor cellular weakening and destruction. Almonds offer protection against heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.
For beauty purposes, the vitamin E found in almonds help to support proper circulation and also keeps inflammation in check. This results in expedited cellular renewal, improved levels of oxygen that reach the skin’s surface and fewer symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and dermatitis. Almonds also help fight the oxidative stress and damage to your skin that is a natural result of lifestyle habits such as overexposure to the sun, poor sleeping habits and a less than stellar diet.
You might be surprised to see chestnuts on this list, simply because they aren’t recognized for their nutritive powers as much as their more popular counterparts. Chestnuts are a different kind of nut altogether. Compared to other nuts, they are relatively low in fats and calories. However, they are the only nut that contains vitamin C and they are rich in plenty of other essential vitamins and minerals such as folate, thiamin, copper, iron, manganese and phosphorus. One ounce of chestnuts contains over eight percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.
Chestnuts, being high in folate, promote the healthy function and production or red blood cells. Folate is also essential for DNA synthesis. Any woman who has been pregnant has heard their doctors advise them to take a folic acid supplement and to eat foods high in folate to prevent fetal neural tube defects. Folate is essential from the very beginning of our lives, and chestnuts are one healthy and unexpected source. Chestnuts also offer all of the same heart healthy benefits of almonds and walnuts.
All of the vitamin C found in chestnuts is great for your skin too. Vitamin C is essential to preventing the breakdown of collagen in your body. The hard truth is that as we age, collagen levels naturally begin to decline. This decline begins as early as the age of thirty and progresses over the next twenty years to a point where collagen levels are nearly half of what they once were. Packing extra vitamin C via a few slightly sweet roasted chestnuts is a delicious way to support one of the most important structures and youthful looking skin.
There are plenty of other skin and health friendly nuts available, such as cashews, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and pistachios. Just because they weren’t mentioned above doesn’t mean that they aren’t great for your overall health and your beautiful skin. Most nuts are healthy for you when enjoyed in moderation, and each has their own special characteristics that make it stand out. However, rather than going on about each and every type of nut, I thought it better to fill you in on the big three above and then take a moment to mention the nutritious partner to the nut, otherwise known as seeds.
Seeds, in general are undervalued for their nutritive properties. When you think about seeds, you might view them as more of a side item rather than a major dietary component, and therefore don’t put much thought at all into them. You might be surprised to know that adding just a small amount of seeds to your diet daily can provide you with nutrients in amounts equal to or greater than the nuts listed above, and they offer many of the same benefits. Many members of the seed family promote healthy skin, hair and nails. Here are just a few examples of some of the seeds that can support glowing skin and radiant health.
- Flax seeds: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, lignans, protein, calcium, magnesium and iron. Flax seeds help inflammatory skin conditions and can be beneficial in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, dandruff and even hair loss.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are like the new, popular kid in class right now. They are novel, interesting and you want to know as much about them as possible. While trendy, chia seeds have major staying power. The nutritive power of chia seeds is so strong that there are even legends about how ancient warriors would live off of not much more than spoonfuls of chia seeds while they were out at war. This may or may not be true, and there really isn’t any reason to test the theory, however chia seeds are nearly perfect when it comes to nutritional composition. For skin, hair and overall vitality, chia seeds are a great pantry staple.
- Sunflower seeds: This popular snack is loaded with vitamin B6, omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and copper. They help to support healthy circulation which is necessary for glowing, beautiful skin and healthy looking hair and nails.
- Hemp seeds: In recent years there has been an impressive amount of research that has gone into discovering the benefits of hemp seeds. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Hemp seeds are thought to be one of the most complete sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants available. For beauty purposes, hemp seeds promote cell regeneration, hydration and oxygenation, otherwise known as the trio of beauty.
It is important to remember that while there is no disputing the nutritive and beauty value of nuts and seeds that not all of your options are created equal. You do need to take a few things into consideration before enjoying your favorites. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of delicious nuts and seeds.
- Portion control is an absolute must. Most nuts are extremely calorie dense. They are also nearly addictive once you get started snacking on them. Use a food scale to measure out your portions if you have one available. You can also use a ¼ cup measuring device, or if no other options are available, one ounce is typically equal to what you would consider a small handful.
- Be wary of the nuts in the snack aisle of your grocery store. Most commercial packed nuts have been fried and heavily salted. Some even contain seasonings that are high in sugar. If it comes in a can or a jar, make sure to take an extra close look at the label and choose the products with the least additives.
- Want to avoid checking every label? Begin by choosing nuts that are raw and unsalted, rather than processed. These are more likely to be found in the produce section of the grocery store. Your local health food store will likely also carry a nice variety.
- If consuming nuts is difficult for your digestive system, consider using nut oils or pure nut butters.
- Sneak nuts and seeds into your snacks and meals throughout the day. Add them to your breakfast cereal, smoothie, salad, soups, and baked goods.
So much of being healthy and having beautiful skin is about making the right choices. Nuts and seeds give you another option for adding restorative nutrition to your diet. They might be small, but their value for your health, beauty and vitality is immeasurable.