There are so many varieties of nuts out there itís hard to decide what is good for you. I hope this article helps.
What is a nut?
First, what exactly is a nut? The Oxford dictionary defines a nut as "a fruit consisting of a hard or tough shell around an edible kernel". Examples include almonds, cashews and walnuts, but NOT peanuts - strictly speaking peanuts are legumes. But for this article I'm going to include peanuts as a nut since itís commonly accepted as such.
Why are nuts good for you?
They are a great source of fibre, protein and essential nutrients like potassium, folate and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant).
Nuts are relatively high in calories due to their fat content; the fat is considered healthy because they are a blend of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - rather than the transfats you find in processed foods.
Being high in healthy fats does not mean that you can eat kilos of nuts every day though - everything in moderation. The Australian dietary guidelines suggest an adult should have 30g - 50g a day (a small handful). The charts below set out the nutritional values of commonly available nuts.
As you can see, all nuts are a good source of protein and fibre, the ones you choose may depend on your diet. If you want to lose weight, then peanuts or almonds (or a mix) may be better options being the lowest in calories, most nutrient rich and with the highest protein content; but generally, variety and balance tends to be best.
Raw or Roasted?
So, how do you get the most out of your nuts? Should you eat them roasted or raw? I personally like the flavour of roasted nuts (unsalted) as they taste better; but raw is considered best as some B group vitamins are lost in the heating process (fried or roasted) .
Nuts are also very versatile since you can easily add them to salads for that extra bit of texture and flavour, or crushed in desserts or savoury dishes like curries or fried vegies.
Unfortunately, some people are allergic to nuts and of course nuts aren't a healthy option but something that is to be managed. For those of you who are allergic to nuts visit the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website for some good suggestions about managing this allergy, especially when eating out.