Nuts are edible fruits or seeds enclosed in a hard, woody or leathery shell which does not open when ripe. Nuts are nature’s perfect, bite sized, convenient power snack. They are an ideal food, supplying high calories in a palatable form, rich in proteins, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and factors of vitamin B complex.

Nut proteins are rich in the amino acid Arginine, which makes possible the synthesis of nitric oxide, which widens & relaxes blood vessels which may decrease the danger of blood clots that can lead to heart attacks.

Among the various nuts, the following are of importance in India:

Almonds (Prunus amygdalus): It is the mend-it-all nut-high in proteins, fat, calcium, iron and phosphorus. The protein is highly digestible, and it is a source of alpha tocopherol and vitamin E while the skin is rich in flavonoids. It has antioxidants which improve immunity and lower the risk of colon cancer. It provides satiety, so can be used as an ideal snack. A handful of almonds taken each day is known to lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol. It plays co-defensive role against atherosclerosis and has excellent laxative properties.

Walnuts (Juglans regia): Romans considered these nuts to be foods of God and since they resemble the structure of the human brain, they were used to treat head ailments. They are rich sources of protein, B vitamins, fiber and anti-oxidants such as Vitamin E. They contain high amounts of alpha linolenic acid. They are a good source of omega- 3 essential fatty acids which have been found to protect heart, promote better cognitive function and provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis. They contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid which is known to support the immune system.

Cashewnut (Anacardium occidentale): This is the most delicious tree nut. It is highly nutritious, being a good source of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper and potassium. It has the right combination of fat with a fatty acid profile conducive to cardiovascular health. A high level of monounsaturated fatty acids support levels of high density lipoproteins. An ounce of these nuts contains 82.5 mg of magnesium approximately which protects against muscle spasms, blood pressure, migraine and fatigue. Its oil consists mostly of glyceride of oleic and Linoleic acids. The antioxidants present help in elimination of free radicals and in production of skin and hair pigment melanin. Avoid salted and fried variety. Do not eat more than 3 servings per week unless you need to gain weight.

Pistachios (Pistacia Vera): They have a vibrant purple skin containing anthocyanin, a plant pigment which may help prevent chronic diseases. The green Kernel contains lutein, which helps in improving the eyesight of older adults. They are good sources of protein, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6 and are amongst the highest fiber nuts. They contain phenolic compounds carotenoids and are placed in the highest group for antioxidants. They are also a source of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Pine nuts: Popularly known as Chilgoza. They are the edible seeds of certain pines, such as the pinon. They are rich sources of amino acids, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. Their health benefits include provision of antioxidant protection, appetite suppression, and dietary fiber. They suppress hunger due to the presence of cholecystokinin and pinolenic acid in them. They contribute to cardiovascular health due to the presence of oleic acid.

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea): This is a relatively less expensive nuts and are high in oil, proteins, carbohydrates and B-vitamins. They are good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid, vitamin E and nicotinic acid. Their quantity consumed should be increased gradually, otherwise flatulence and intestinal colic may ensue. A handful of them can be taken at least four times a week for getting optimum benefits from them.

The nuts should be consumed in moderation as they are highly concentrated in both calories and nutrients. Eating a variety of nuts is the best way to get all the health benefits from each kind of nuts.

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Reema Bhatia enjoys a stellar academic background as well as a fascinating career in diet & nutrition research. she has published articles stress management & pain specialist, healthcare, beauty care, sports fitness equipment, skin care & baby care products.Find out how Ms. Reema Bhatia’s dynamic, cutting edge research to Cardiovascular supplements and Nutritions which can help you achieve a healthy heart by visiting: