Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Nuts may have a high fat content – between 35 and 70% depending on the type of nut – but they still count as a very important part of a healthy diet. That’s because of their very high contents of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are brilliant for your health.

If you eat nuts regularly, you’ll not only reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood, but also your total cholesterol. Nuts have been shown to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease. In addition, they contain lots of vitamins and minerals which have a positive effect on your brain and nervous system. However the presence of phytic acid, a substance often present in plants, means that the minerals are not well absorbed. Roasting or some other type of cooking improves take-up, but it also destroys heat-sensitive vitamins.

This means that if you are going to make nuts a part of your balanced, wholefood diet, then you should try to eat them in a variety of forms. There are so many different types of nuts that this isn’t difficult. You can stir them into mueslis and yoghurts, or bake them in cakes, biscuits and bread. If you use nuts in baking it has the side effect that you can reduce the amount of butter or margarine which you’d normally use in your baking. A portion of nuts (raw and unsalted) can occasionally replace a portion of fruit or vegetables. Experts recommend you eat a handful of nuts a day.

Allergy sufferers and small children should avoid nuts

There are a couple of points that should be made about these general ideas. Many elderly people, especially people over 80, suffer from malnutrition. Adding nuts to food is a simple way of boosting calorie intake and improving nutrition. 100 grams of nuts contain around 680 kilocalories. Elderly people often have difficulty chewing and swallowing, so it might be a good idea to mince or grind the nuts before adding them to food.

Children under three years old shouldn’t be given nuts, unless they’re very finely ground, because of the risk of choking. Then there are people with known and suspected nut allergies. Increasing awareness and EU regulations insisting on warnings about nuts being displayed on food packaging have helped to reduce the risk.

Buying and storage –what you need to know

If you like nuts and don’t have any worries about allergies, you should nonetheless shop carefully for nuts. Because of their high content of fats and oils, nuts tend to go rancid if they’re kept too long. Don’t eat nuts that are rancid, shrivelled, mouldy or yellowed! At home nuts should be stored in a cool, dark, dry and well-ventilated place. Nuts that have been peeled or grated should be used as soon as possible (no longer than four weeks). Until then keep them in a tightly closed container, like a screw-top jar, in the fridge. Nuts can also be frozen, they’ll keep a whole year in the freezer. Buy organically grown nuts if you want to be sure that your nuts are free of chemicals and haven’t been bleached.

Source: IN FORM