Surely you have been told you that nuts are the ultimate brain food, and that they are the perfect snack when studying for a big test. You’ve heard it over and over, and have probably figured it must be true!
Is there any truth behind this claim? Are nuts really good for the brain, or is it just part of a marketing campaign by companies selling nuts? Assuming they are good, how much should you eat to get the greatest benefit? ?
Why You Should Eat Nuts for a Healthy Brain
Nuts are nutrient-dense foods that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, tocopherols, minerals, vegetable protein, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. They are considered fruits, but unlike fruits, nuts are high in fat and don’t have a sweet taste.
The question is this: why should you eat nuts, or make an effort to add them to your daily diet?
A Great Source of Nutrients
Nuts are among the most nutrient-dense foods around. In fact, one ounce, or 28 grams of mixed nuts, can give your brain and body the following nutrients:
- 173 calories
- Five grams of protein
- Three grams of fiber
- Six grams of carbs
- 16 grams of fat, with additional nine grams of monounsaturated fat
- Vitamin E
Some types of nuts may have varying nutritional content, but the bottom line is that nuts, in general, are rich in nutrients.
Nuts: an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Nuts contain polyphenol, a type of antioxidant that can combat oxidative stress, or that state of your body wherein there is too many free radicals. When eaten, nuts help neutralize free radicals in your brain and prevent them from messing with your cells.
Nuts can Reduce Inflammation
Apart from antioxidants, nuts are also rich in anti-inflammatory properties, and have the ability to fight bacteria, toxins, and other potentially harmful pathogens in your brain. They can help to promote healthy aging as well.
How can you say no to that?
Nuts are Rich in Fiber
Fiber plays an important role in your body. It keeps you fuller longer, reduces unhealthy cravings, and increases weight loss.
Nuts are a Healthy Source of Good Fats
Fats aren’t all bad. There are good fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which your brain needs to keep it functioning. The good news is that nuts are rich in healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol, and increase the good, they reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, and also reduce triglycerides.
Nuts are Versatile and Widely Available and Accessible
You can sprinkle or toss them on salads, crush them as toppings for your meal, or even eat them during snack time. Place them in a container and you have something to munch on while traveling. You don’t have to worry about where to buy them because nuts are readily available in supermarket, health food stores, and even online, thereby making nuts within your reach.
Several Reasons Why Nuts May Not be Good for Your Brain Health
Nuts mean well. Still, this doesn’t mean that you should eat as many as you can. Nuts may be good for your brain and body, but you need to remember that nuts have limitations as well.
Flavor is a Big No-No
To keep the health benefits intact, nuts must be eaten in raw form. Roasting nuts may add more flavor, thereby making it tastier, but this could also mean adding unhealthy saturated fats. Roasted nuts might also be heated in hydrogenated oil, which is not good for the brain. When you do this, you strip away the nutritional value, making them less healthy.
Nut Allergies are Real
Did you know that peanuts are among the most common allergies in kids and adults? Make sure that you are not allergic to nuts before eating them. Also, make it a habit to check the label to prevent unwanted reactions.
Tree nuts can also contain high quantities of lectins which may be causing some serious damage to your cells and it's not only tree nuts that contain them. The 10 Worst Foods High in Lectins and Benefits in Avoiding Them.
Because Too Many Nuts is a Bad Thing
In small amounts, nuts help curb your cravings and keeps you fuller longer. On the other hand, too much of this is not good for your health. Keep in mind that nuts are rich in fat and have a higher calorie content. Eating too many will not only affect your brain, but will also affect the proper balance of fats in your body. Make sure to portion your intake to make the most out of them. Strive for balance. Don't over kill on the nuts.
That Bloated Feeling
Do you feel bloated or gassy after eating nuts? You’re not alone. Many people experience the same feeling because of the presence of phytates, lectins, and tannins. These compounds make it difficult for your stomach to digest, giving you that bloated or gassy feeling.
Despite the not-so-good side, nuts are still good for you, and should be included in your must-eat list, especially if you want to give your brain a boost. The question now, is what type of nuts should be included in your diet?
The next section will tell you more about it.
A Closer Look at the Different Type of Nuts and their Effects on Your Brain
Fact: nuts can be the ultimate brain food – as long as you consume the right type in the right amount. Learn about the different types of nuts and how each of them can affect your brain health in a positive way:
Almonds Reduce The Risk of Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Did you know that almonds are called the “King of Nuts?” This is because almonds are packed with essential nutrients like calcium, vitamins B2 (Riboflavin), B6, and E, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus, which keep your brain and body strong and healthy. These essential nutrients also support optimal brain health while reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline. In fact, almonds are also recommended because they help restore memory and cognitive function on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s not all. Almonds are also low in calories with only 160 calories and 14 grams of healthy fat per ounce. Click here for a delicious almond flour bread recipe!
Cashews Help You Process Information
Magnesium is essential in various chemical reactions in your body, including keeping your nerve function sharp. It also provides high iron content, thereby minimizing fatigue and tiredness.
Apparently, cashews are low in protein, so feel free to add them in your protein-packed meals to keep you energized and improve the protein profile.
Hazelnuts Support Healthy Red Blood Cells
If you’re feeling tired, hazelnuts can save your day. This type of nut is rich in iron, an essential nutrient that wards off the feeling of tiredness, and provides relief against fatigue. Aside from that, hazelnuts produce healthy red blood cells and supports a healthy immune system.
If this isn’t enough to convince you, you should know that hazelnuts have low saturated fat and high in proanthocyanidins (PACs), a type of antioxidant that is 20 times more potent than vitamin C, and 50 times more potent that vitamin E. This leads to better memory, and minimizing your risk against age-related cognitive decline.
Macadamia Nuts Help Regulate Blood Pressure
It turns out that macadamia nuts are rich in oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat that keeps your blood pressure low and prevents stroke, thereby maintaining optimal brain health. Aside from this, macadamia has palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid that is crucial in myelin, or the fatty layer that protects and insulates nerve cells in your brain. With these components, it is safe to say that macadamia is also beneficial in early brain development as well as normal function of your brain.
Don’t go for the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts sold in stores. They are yummy, but you won’t be able to enjoy the brain benefits because of all the sugar in your body.
Peanuts | Not Just an Allergic Burden
Are you looking for the best nuts for your brain? Then you need to stock up on peanuts.
Peanuts, which belong to the legume family, are rich in folate, a type of mineral that is essential for brain development and protects it against cognitive decline. They also have brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E, thereby keeping your brain sharp and healthy. Peanuts also contain vitamin B3 or Niacin, which is known for supporting a healthy nervous system and shooing away tiredness and fatigue. Some experts believe that lack of Niacin could contribute to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, and stocking up on peanuts could reduce that risk.
Make sure you avoid dry roasted or salted nuts to avoid offsetting its brain benefits.
Pecans Delicious and Full of Healthy Fats
Pecans are high in fat, with 20 grams of fat per ounce of serving, which is why we highly recommend them to feed your brain. Pecans contain vitamin B1 or Thiamin, which helps lower your stress levels and increases the production of energy in your body.
Pistachios Boost B Vitamins
B vitamins such as vitamins B1 and B6 are essential in keeping your brain healthy, and pistachios are rich in them. They are also among the low-calorie nuts, with 160 calories per ounce and 13 grams of fat.
Aside from this, pistachios also help in preserving the right level of fatty acids in your brain at the same time, preventing any inflammation in the area. This could prevent any damaging effects brought on by some forms of brain injury.
Just make sure you go for raw version since pistachios often have added salt.
Walnuts for Brain Health
Walnuts may be associated with a healthy heart, but this doesn’t mean they’re not beneficial for the brain. Walnuts are a good source of omega-3, and rich in ellagic acid, a type of antioxidant that prevents the growth of cancer cells. More so, walnuts have high concentration of DHA, which improves cognitive performance and minimizes age-related cognitive decline.
When it comes to brain health, walnuts are rich in vitamin B6, which supports a healthy nervous system. It plays a positive role in boosting one’s mood, and minimizes depression brought by PMS.
Substitute walnuts in for your usual snack and experience real lasting brain energy, feel full, and reduce overall caloric intake. High fat means no unnecessary empty cals.
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Now that you know what type of nuts are good for the brain, are you ready to add them in to your daily diet? You should. Just make sure you stick to an ounce, or 28 grams per day, roughly the amount that would fit in the palm of your hand. Reach for raw, unsalted, and no added sugar. Mixed nuts tend to add a lot of salt and or sugar so definitely check the label.