They are “Super-foods,” so-called by doctors and nutrition and health experts for their amazing beneficial properties that can help you keep the right weight, fight off heart disease and cancer, live longer, and even put you in a better mood.
Super-foods: Nuts, seeds and oily fish
Nuts and their Nutritional Value
Nuts and seeds are great foods as they are so nutrient dense. They are a good source of protein, minerals and B vitamins. They contain good amounts of polyunsaturated fats which have been shown to have numerous benefits for the body.
Each nut and seed has a different nutrient profile. Here is a selection of some of the most nutritious nuts and seeds:
Almonds are high in calcium. They are also very alkaline, so are ideal for detox diets.
Walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids and an unusual and beneficial form of vitamin E called gamma tocopherol. The skin is also high in health giving phytonutrients. One study found that eating a handful of walnuts per day helped prevent heart disease.
Flax seeds: These small yellow seeds contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Their oil is often extracted and consumed. They are also high in phytoestrogens so may help with hormone balance in the menopause. Flax seeds can really help with constipation. They are best eaten after soaking in water or with a glass of water.
Pumpkin seeds: These small green seeds also contain omega 3 fatty acids and zinc.
Sesame seeds: These tiny seeds contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as many minerals including calcium. If you don’t like dairy products, add tahini (which is made from grounds sesame seeds) to your smoothies, fruit salads and enjoy spread on toast too.
Brazil nuts: Depending on where they are grown, brazil nuts can make a great source of selenium.
Cashew nuts: These are high in calcium, but try not to eat the salted ones!
NB. Peanuts are not actually nuts. Although they are high in protein, they can also grow aflatoxins which are harmful in large quantities. Peanut allergy is also on the increase. Great alternatives to peanut butter are almond or cashew butter.
It’s best to buy your nuts fresh and unsalted. They can be ground and added to smoothies, yoghurts, energy bars, breads and cereals for added nutrition and to increase satiety.
Nuts and seeds make great standby snacks as they are easily transportable. Eat them with fresh fruit for a sustaining snack which keeps your blood sugar levels stable due to the fat and protein content of the nuts and seeds. They can also be added to stir fries to give a lovely crunchy texture.
Salmon and Sardines
Everybody knows that oily fish is good for you due to its omega 3 content. Oily fish such as salmon also contains vitamin D and E, so it’s excellent for cardiovascular health, bones and skin too. Eating the bones of tinned or cooked salmon and sardines can also supply calcium. Tinned fish can be added to fish pies and fish cakes.
Sardines on toast are a great quick meal or snack which children may enjoy too. Make sure you drain the oil from the tin first and enjoy with rocket salad and whole-meal toast.