A wonderful source of plant protein, raw and unsalted nuts, seeds and the various butters made from them are a brilliant addition to your diet for their beauty-boosting monounsaturated fats too.
But please don’t be put off completely by their fat and calorie content. Nuts and seeds do contain substantial levels of calories from fat, but they’re mainly derived from healthy essential fatty acids, plus they contain plenty of beneficial minerals and antioxidants.
Enjoyed in moderation, they can really boost your health. Eating about one handful per day of nuts and seeds can help you to lose weight by satiating your appetite, stabilising your blood-sugar levels and adding fibre to keep you feeling full. They’ve also been shown to improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
Omega-3 fats are found especially in walnuts, chia seeds (and my chia pudding recipes such as this one!) and ground flaxseeds. For this reason, they’re excellent for calming down inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Many types of nuts are rich sources of potassium and magnesium, to build strong bones. All varieties of nuts and seeds are super sources of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant needed to build beautiful smooth skin, with the selenium and zinc in Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds also playing an important role in our skin’s health. But stick to one to two Brazil nuts a day for all the selenium you need.
In particular, zinc is needed for strong nails and collagen maintenance, to keep your skin supple and youthful. Together with vitamin B6 and biotin, zinc is needed for shiny, healthy hair.
Almonds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, protein and vitamin E, all important for your beauty and health. I always keep a packet of raw almonds in the cupboard at home and in the glove compartment in my car, as they make a great filling snack for hunger emergencies!
Hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts are also heart-healthy sources of monounsaturated fat to help reduce the risk of heart disease and control type two diabetes.
Pecans are one of the best sources of antioxidants, and I love their rich flavour in desserts. Sunflower seeds are another excellent source of skin-friendly vitamin E, while sesame seeds and sesame seed paste, called tahini, are a rich source of calcium. I often use tahini as a tasty base for dressings, sauces, desserts and dips like homemade hummus 🙂
Raw nut butters without added salt, sugar or palm oil, can make a handy snack and addition to meals.
Try raw almond butter on porridge or spread on sliced apple, banana or pear as a tasty post-exercise pick-me-up, or my Sleepytime Banoffee Split for an evening snack. But keep nut butters at no more than one to two tablespoons a day to avoid gaining any pesky pounds 😉