One of my favorite aspects of the paleo diet is the snacks. The tasty treats you can have when you adopt a paleo eating plan are not only filling, they come loaded with important, health-boosting nutrients.
My favorites are nuts and seeds. Even now, as I write this, I’m munching on walnuts that have a smidgen of neem organic honey from India spooned on top of them.
Wellness from walnuts
Even folks who disapprove of the paleo diet admit that nuts like walnuts and almonds possess undeniable health benefits.
Walnuts, for instance, have been shown to drop your risk of colon cancer, support better brain health as you age, improve the function of your digestion system and prop up heart health.
Some of the reasons for their benefits are contained in the natural substances the nuts have: For instance, walnuts are good sources of fiber as well as healthy fatty acids including the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, and vitamin E.
Studies of the benefits of walnuts show that they:
- Reduce inflammation and harmful oxidation that can result after you eat fast food.
- Shrink your risk for colon cancer. A study in Korea shows that substances in walnuts slow the growth of colon cancer cells.
- Boost the health of your gut. Walnuts are pre-biotic because they contain the types of fiber and fats that helpful bacteria in your intestines thrive on. That can reduce your digestive difficulties and potentially help you lose weight.
- Keep your brain working better as you age. The nutrients in walnuts, like folate, selenium, polyphenols and magnesium, help your neurons stay healthier with the passing years.
- Strengthen the health of your cardiovascular system. Research at the University of California shows that fatty acids in walnuts — (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA) – keep blood vessels working better.
Research into the benefits of almonds, are just as impressive as the studies on walnuts.
When scientists analyzed the effects of almond snacks on people who were pre-diabetic, they turned up important results. Giving people daily helpings of almonds did not cause anyone to gain weight. But eating 250 calories of almonds a day (1.5 ounces) helped people control their appetites, leveled out their blood sugar and provided healthy doses of vitamin E.
Another almond study took a look at how 250 daily calories of almonds affected overweight people who were trying to avoid heart disease. This six week study found that the almonds helped people slim their waistlines and lose inflammatory belly fat that has been linked to heart problems.
Almonds are also a good source or protein (6 grams per ounce) plus potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.
Nutrient rich nuts
Nuts are great snack because they are much easier on your blood sugar than refined snacks like chips and candy. True nuts have no effect on blood sugar, and even the seeds that are called nuts like cashews only cause a gentle increase in blood sugar. Nut eaters also live longer, and generally get less cancer.
The benefits of nuts demonstrate why all those so-called experts who argue for a low-fat diet, are seriously misguided. You should avoid refined fats, like cottonseed and corn oil, not the healthy types of fats in nuts. And study after study shows that people who eat more nuts weigh less than those who avoid nuts.
So the next time you feel like munching, reach for some nuts. Try different kinds besides walnuts and almonds. Pistachios also have healthy fats, Brazil nuts give you loads of selenium, and chestnuts are the only nut that has vitamin C.