Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nutrition in a Nutshell

You may already know that nuts are packed with nutrition, but when nuts are sprouted, they pack even more of a nutritional wallop.

But let’s take a look at the nutrition in a nutshell.

For starters, the fats in nuts support a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels—benefits so impressive, that in 2003, the FDA approved health claims for the following nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and some pine nuts. They stated that “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts . . .  may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

That’s not all, though.

Nuts are also great sources of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For instance, the antioxidants in nuts may—and the FDA points out—decrease the risk of heart disease and other unhealthy conditions. Almonds and peanuts, for example, are excellent sources of vitamin E, whose antioxidant function may slow the effects of oxidative stress and support healthy aging, joints, eyes, blood sugar levels and immunity.

Then there’s the weight factor.  Nuts may support a healthy body weight because of their higher protein and fiber content, which help to make you feel fuller for longer. Likewise, nut consumption has also been linked to healthier blood sugar and insulin levels, helping to combat feelings of hunger.

But wait . . . there’s more.

Newer research points towards a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in those with metabolic syndrome who are at high risk for heart disease.  In short, nut consumption boosted serotonin levels to promote satiety and happiness.  By the way, serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that can decrease feelings of hunger, while boosting spirits and supporting a positive mood—and just one ounce of nuts daily will produce these health-supporting benefits.

That’s significant, too, because metabolic syndrome is definitely an ominous force to be reckoned with. Metabolic syndrome is generally defined as a cluster of risk factors that can pave the way to diabetes, which is growing at alarming rates; heart disease, which ranks high as a killer overall; or stroke, which affects about six million Americans annually. Truth be told, having metabolic syndrome leads to a two- to five-fold increased risk for coronary heart disease or strokes, and a five-fold increased risk for diabetes.

Dr. Cristina Andres-Lacueva, lead researcher of one of these recent studies, says, “The regular consumption of nuts, which are jam-packed with healthful nutrients such as healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids) and antioxidants (polyphenols), have been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome."

Additionally, one ounce of nuts eaten daily “reduced levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome."

The health benefits from nuts are impressive, but when nuts are sprouted, then the nutrition increases significantly. For instance, sprouting produces vitamin C and increases carotenoids and vitamin B content, including vitamins B2, B5 and B6—among other vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Additionally, the sprouting process supports the proper absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, while neutralizing enzyme inhibitors—allowing enzymes to remain alive and well to reinforce nutrition and health.

So, go a little nutty with sprouted nuts. They’re what I call nutrition in a nutshell!