The hardest thing about writing this article was starting it without using some kind of pun about how ‘nuts’ we are about nuts. But having avoided that pun based minefield, sort of, it needs to be said that at CSN we do absolutely love our nuts and we have gone out of our way to bring the best variety of nut based products in to store to give you their awesome benefits! In this article we will hopefully give you some insight as to why we have gone the extra mile to supply you with many varieties in both their whole, buttered (that sounds weird but you know what we mean), powdered, flavoured and even in combination with extra protein! Even if you don’t like the taste of nuts in their more natural forms then please keep reading, as we may have a little something in store that could change your mind, so these benefits can also apply to even the most resolute hater of nutty tastes.
Why are nuts good for you?
Nut butters at CSN come mainly in peanut, almond, cashew and Brazil nut varieties. Each of these types of nuts has general traits that are beneficial, making them a worthwhile addition to a healthy and balanced diet. These are essential to provide energy in low carb diets and to add extra protein into diets that may be lacking in this awesome muscle building macro. In general nuts are high in fat, high in protein, have good amounts of fibre and are low in sugar. However each type of nut has slightly different macro and micronutrient ratios which may mean that a type of nut may meet your dietary requirements more than others. In addition to this they have distinct flavour differences, which if you’re not overly concerned with the subtle differences in macro’s and micro’s, can give you all the general benefits but allow you a bit of variety in your diet. The high fat content typically found in nuts not only provides energy for exercise but it is the healthier type of fat, unsaturated fat. Including palmitoleic acid and oleic acid that have shown positive relationships with the reduction of bad cholesterol associated with diets high in saturated fat, so if you’re a lover of red meats and dairy, then the addition of a little nuttiness to your life can help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Micronutrients in nuts
Nuts are also a good source of omega 3’s these beautiful little fatty acids are amazing for general health benefits, but also have some very specific roles in the body that for those of us who exercise are important. They reduce inflammation in the musculoskeletal system caused by exercise, helping you recover quicker and reduce aches and pains. Omega 3’s are also important for protecting our joints, which regardless of sport, exercise or activity are susceptible for taking a bit more abuse than sometimes we would like. These fats also contain large amount of the powerful, fat soluble, vitamin E. This wonderful vitamin keeps both our insides, through promoting arterial health, and our outsides healthy, by keeping our skin healthy looking and repairing it from environmental damage. Vitamin E is also a great defence against exercise induced muscle damage as it is a potent anti-oxidant, this again has potential to boost our recovery. Being high in protein, there are also amino acids aplenty in our little bundles of nutty joy, particularly L-Arginine, which for people who exercise is massively important to get in plentiful amounts, as it is one of the key amino-acids involved in tissue healing and repair. It also is a key player in the production of growth hormone, important for the utilisation of fat and muscle recovery and growth.
Minerals in nuts
Nuts are also a great source of key minerals, magnesium and copper, which between them are important for many enzymatic reactions in the body, keeping your physiological processes in the body working efficiently, this includes everything from helping bone turnover to nerve transmission. Magnesium in large amounts is also a potent natural relaxant and helps us unwind and sleep, hence why it is the key ingredient in ZMA products that are designed to promote healthy sleep. The high amounts of folic acid that are contained in nuts is also massively important ,and recommended in plentiful amounts in pregnant women, due to its role in supporting healthy embryonic development. As if that wasn’t enough nuts have one more major health benefit which is why, especially on low carbohydrate diets, an increase the consumption of nuts is recommended because they contain very high amounts of fibre. This is important to replace a marked reduction in fibre in the diet, as fibre found in many carbohydrate sources, are obviously reduced in this type of diet. Fibre aids the digestive system helping you get the best nutrient quality from your foods, helps to control blood sugar levels and has been shown to help with maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
Which is the right nut for you?
Nuts although generally having all these amazing benefits have slightly different macronutrient ratios. Some of our favourite nuts (peanuts, almonds, Brazil Nuts and cashews) found in our all natural Meridian peanut butter range, are listed below in order to compare their macro ratios, to enable you to determine which nut might be the most beneficial to your calorific and macro nutrient goals, these values are typical values taken per 100g from the meridian all natural nut butters range. In terms of protein peanuts are king with 29.6g of protein, closely followed by almonds with 25.4g, cashews with 20.6g and in last place Brazil nuts with 16.8g. Unsurprisingly peanuts contain the largest amino acids when compared to the other nuts due to its higher protein content, it is also the highest in terms of folic acid. Although having the lowest protein content, Brazil nuts contain the highest amount of carbohydrates with 22.7g, but are still very low in sugars (3.5g) making this nut perfect for those who want some more low GI carbs in their diet, which will help stabilise blood sugars, and with fats provide a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Brazil nuts are also the highest in selenium, an important cofactor for the manufacture of the powerful anti-oxidant glutathione. The lowest carbohydrate nut is the almond with a meagre 6.5g, although these are mostly sugars at 4g. Peanuts are the next lowest with 11.6g with 5.9g of sugars and cashews have a moderate amount of carbohydrate with 18.9g and 5.6g of sugars. Almonds have the highest fat content with 55.8g but with only 4.4g of saturated fats, making it the highest in healthy unsaturated fats. Cashew and Brazil nuts are similar in fat content with 51.3g and 52.8g respectively, however cashews are lower in saturated fats (10.9g) when compared to Brazil nuts (16.9g). Peanuts have the lowest fat content at 46g and contain 8.2g of saturated fat. Peanuts are also very high in fibre at 8.5g and have double the amount of fibre than cashews (4.3g) and Brazil nuts (3.4g), but the gold medal winner for fibre goes to almonds with a giant 11.8g. Whatever your nut of choice, whether you choose by macro content, taste or texture you are sure to be on to a winner and are a great way of adding variety to a healthy diet. On a final and absolutely delicious note, for those who don’t like the taste of nuts, we now have a large selection of brands of flavoured nut butters. These provide you with all the benefits of nuts but with added incredible flavourings and some brands have the addition of whey protein, making them taste like a sweet spread, allowing you to get all the benefits of nuts with an incredible taste and even more of that glorious protein we all love! Take a look at them here! Thanks for reading, Peace, weights and protein shakes. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc).