One woman’s take on life, nuts and how beauty, and how intricately all three are linked…
[By Fiona Morris]
My world is full of nuts— and I’m not talking about that ex -boyfriend who texted at 3am last night just to check if I’m doing fine. Or my mum who kept asking if I still have fond memories of my ex- neighbor’s doctor son whom I shared a peanut butter sandwich with when I was 5. Apparently, he’s recently divorced and very much available…, since ‘we didn’t work out the first time round’. Really, mum? It’s easy to move on to another boyfriend but can I ask to put my mum up for adoption? Is that even allowed? Anyway…, I’m talking about real nuts like walnuts, chestnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamias, pecans and more. Oh, and peanuts too.
A trivial pursuit gem which I’m sure many are unaware of— do you know that peanuts are actually not nuts? Although their nutritional properties resemble that of real nuts so closely that they are commonly referred to as nuts, peanuts are in fact legumes; like beans or peas (edible seeds that grow inside pods), and grow underground. The real McCoy classified as nuts are seeds of fruits, encased in a hard outer shell, growing on flowering upright trees or shrubs. Generally, we can refer to them as tree nuts.
Everyone who had tried a dieting fad from South Beach to Zone will know that nuts are supposedly one of the healthiest snack foods around, right next to your carrot and celery sticks. So what’s so great about these hard shelled morsels? Whether it’s an actual tree nut or a peanut, nuts in general are high in the healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart disease. A Harvard study done in 2006 reported that women who consume at least 142g of nuts a week were 35% less likely to have a heart attack compared to those who ate less than 28g a month. In addition, nuts are a rich source of protein and choke-full of fiber and vitamins; packing quite an amazing bit of nutritional and anti-oxidant power into their tiny bodies!
Eating one ounce of nuts (about a handful) five times per week is enough to provide health benefits, and may lower your risk of heart attacks and diabetes. Eating this amount of nuts will also ensure that your nut consumption doesn’t lead to weight gain although this is more a myth than truth since nuts are generally filling and help to curb appetite. So which are the best ones in that big pack of mixed nuts you spied in mum’s early Christmas grocery shopping bag?
Much Ado About Nut-ting
It might just be true that the harder it is to get to the end product, the better it will be. Walnuts that require more than just bare hands to crack stand out as the most heart healthy nuts around. Besides being rich in monounsaturated fat, walnuts are unique as they also provide a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid.
As a matter of fact, a handful of walnuts contain almost as much omega-3 fatty acid as 3 ounces of salmon. Besides being cardio-protective, omega-3 oil can help with arthritis and depression; maintaining the health of both body and mind well into the twilight years.
Apart from being a great source of protein and fiber, almonds are also very rich in calcium. A quarter cup of almonds has almost as much calcium as a quarter cup of milk. On top of that, almonds are also high in the potassium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants selenium and vitamin E.
Anyone for a cup of steaming hot anti-ageing almond milk tea?
Packing as much vitamins and minerals as their crunch are the great tasting cashews. It makes me feel good thinking about what cashews contain whenever I pop a couple into my mouth. The copper in cashews has great healing properties, and may help rid the body of infections.
For strong bones and teeth, leave it to the calcium and phosphorus. Get an overall boost of energy with magnesium, and let your skin, hair and nails shine with that extra serving of iron.
Nuts To Go Nuts
Nuts are best eaten on their own, raw or plainly roasted. Although nuts alone are low in saturated fats, many that go on sales eventually are being altered with added chemicals and preservatives. Barbecued, honey glazed and salted nuts morph them from being healthy, natural snacks to unhealthy, processed ones. Being choke-full of artery clogging fat, sugar and sodium, these sinful snacks threaten to push up not only your dress size but your blood pressure as well.
It is also nuts to go near nuts if you suspect nut allergy. Although this stands at only 1% of the general population, accidental consumption can be fatal. Someone can be allergic to peanuts but not tree nuts or vice versa. In any case, nut allergies tend to be life-long, and can worsen with each attack. It can result in hives, swollen lips or even anaphylaxis (hypersensitivity to a substance) and death. Make sure you read all food labels correctly and always ask if nuts are used in any store brought dishes from salads to desserts.
This is my all time favourite beauty recipe— Yoghurt Walnut Scrub. Mix ¼ cup of plain yoghurt (not the low fat variety) with ¼ cup of finely ground walnut. Use on damp skin as a body scrub especially on roughened areas such as your elbows and knees. Avoid raw skin or cuts. Leave scrub on body for 1 minute before rinsing off. You will find your skin baby soft and moisturized immediately after!