Get Healthy by Going Nuts
The science is in. Eating a handful of nuts everyday can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy weight. With the Australian nut season now in full swing, there’s never been a better time to take up the challenge of incorporating more nuts into your diet.
Tree nuts are the original superfoods. Packed full of protein, fibre, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, nuts are now considered so important to our health that the most recent Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends eating a serving of nuts every day (roughly one handful). The Guidelines also advise replacing foods that are high in saturated fat with foods containing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated otherwise known as good fats that are found in nuts, avocados and olive oil.
Eating good fats is a relatively new concept for Australians, and is at odds with the low fat diet mantra that was popularised in the 80s. As a result, nuts and other healthy, natural foods are still avoided by many health conscious shoppers because they are seen as fattening. But this is changing thanks to the work of the Australian Nut Industry initiative Nuts For Life, which is dedicated to debunking the fat myth. Chris Joyce, pistachio grower and Chair of Nuts for Life explains:
By the end of the 90s, nuts had such a bad rep that people werent eating them at all. But new studies were coming out that showed that people who ate nuts five times a week had half the risk of developing heart disease than those who didnt. And what really surprised everyone was that there was also research showing that if you eat nuts you dont put on weight, in fact your more likely to loose weight. We started Nuts for Life around 2002 to make sure this new information was getting out to GPs, nutritionists, health professionals and the general community.
Research shows that nuts can help people maintain healthy weight levels because they are high in protein and fibre, which suppress hunger. The crunchy texture of nuts also sends satiating signals to the brain, so there is less chance of overindulging.
Nuts can also play a role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. A study of almost 84 000 women found that those who ate a 28g serving of nuts, five times or more per week had a 27 per cent lower risk of diabetes than those who never or rarely ate nuts. The addition of nuts to carb heavy meals also reduces the rise in blood glucose levels after eating
Which nuts should I buy
Australia produces some of the highest quality nuts in the world, and being an island nation, local farmers have been protected from the pests and diseases that affect nut crops in other countries. As a result most of Australians nut production is pesticide free or requires minimal pesticide application.
Australians currently eat around 50 per cent domestic product with 50 per cent of nuts still imported from overseas. The unrivalled flavour, freshness and quality of new season nuts mean they are definitely worth seeking out, as Chris Joyce explains:
Nuts are like fresh fruit and vegetables, theyve got a finite life the oils will go rancid. Anything imported is on a boat for the best part of two months, whereas local produce is usually freighted overnight ready for the stores.
An Australian native bush food, macadamias are full of healthy monounsaturated fats, plant sterols, dietary fibre, copper, magnesium and zinc, which all work together to promote heart health and lower blood cholesterol.
How much: 30g serve = 15 macadamias
Where to buy: Barenuts produce premium macadamias using sustainable and low impact farming methods on their beautiful property located in South East Queensland.
Botanically related to cashews and mangoes, pistachios contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are high in protein, iron and zinc, which make them ideal for vegetarians, and they surprisingly contain a higher antioxidant capacity than blueberries and broccoli.
How much: 30g serve = 60 pistachios split
Where to buy: Eric and Kerryn Wright, from Go Just Nuts, have perfected the art of growing crunchy, crisp and sweet pistachios on their 10 hectare property in Nangiloc, Victoria.
Essential for good health, walnuts contain the highest source of natural plant omega 3s.
How much: 30g = 10 whole walnutsWhere to buy: King Valley Walnuts are grown in in the cool valley of the north east of Victoria and have a delicious creamy taste and pale kernel.
Are rich in monounsaturated fats, contain significant amounts of B group vitamins (including folate and vitamin B6) and provide more than 10 per cent of the recommended dietary intake of fibre. They are also one of the few plant foods that contain short-chain omega-3 fats, usually only found in fish and seafood.
How much:30g serve = 20 hazelnuts.
Where to buy:The Hazel Nut Patch located in South West Gippsland, produce a variety of hazelnuts known as Wanliss Pride, which is renowned for its great flavour and nutritional properties.