From lowering cholesterol to improving blood sugar levels, nuts are a no-brainer for snacking on the go and have been linked to several health benefits. But are all nuts created equal?
Let’s explore four high-protein nuts and learn how you can incorporate them into your diet.
Native to Brazil and cultivated in warm climates across the globe, cashews are not a “true nut” like acorns and chestnuts; rather, they’re botanically classified as drupes, or fruits that are fleshy on the outside with a shell covering a seed on the inside.
Cashews can be purchased at your local grocery store in their deshelled and skinless states, since the nut’s raw exterior can be toxic if consumed.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), cashews have 4.34g of protein per 1 ounce (28.35 grams), as well as several health benefits, making them a nutrient-dense snack essential for a healthy diet.
Moreover, cashews are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which help lower cholesterol and reduce the risks of strokes and heart attacks. A study also found that those who consume nuts more than four times per week had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who didn’t consume nuts regularly.
While almonds are native to the Mediterranean region, they’re currently primarily grown in California, where 80% of the world’s almond supply is located. And like cashews, almonds are seeds of a fruit, specifically from the almond tree, and are dependent on bees to pollinate and grow.
Whether you prefer almonds whole and raw or chopped and flavoured, there’s a type for everyone to enjoy. However, raw almonds provide the most health benefits.
While they may be dense in calories, almonds have been shown to lower the risk of weight gain and obesity due to their fat and fibre content leaving one feeling full and satisfied. And with 6g of protein, almonds have also been shown to be beneficial for the gut’s microbiome as well as reducing insulin resistance in those with diabetes.
Originating in South America, peanuts are technically legumes, meaning they are related to beans and lentils rather than being nuts themselves. And like most legumes, peanuts are high in plant-based protein. With 7.31g of protein per 1 ounce (28.35grams), peanuts have the highest protein content out of all nuts.
Whether you enjoy them by the handful or blend them into butter, peanuts make for the perfect healthy snack as they’re balanced in protein, fat and carbs.
Research also shows that peanuts are a great source of several vitamins and minerals such as:
- Biotin. Supports the growth of hair and nails.
- Vitamin E. An antioxidant that fights free radicals.
- Magnesium. Protects against heart disease.
- Vitamin B1. Helps convert carbs into energy.
Originating in Western Asia and the Middle East, pistachios are also botanically classified as seeds and are produced from the Pistacia vera tree which thrives in dry climates. They became commercially available in the United States in the 1970s with most production taking place in areas like Arizona and California.
From unhulled and hulled to salted and roasted, pistachios can be purchased and enjoyed in a variety of ways. And because of their distinctive green colour and flavour, pistachios are not just eaten as a healthy snack; they’re also used in several desserts such as ice cream and gelato, truffles, cakes and pastries.
With 6g of protein per 1/4 cup (30grams), pistachios contain as much protein as an egg and when compared to other nuts they’re high in amino acids, i.e., the building blocks of protein. Moreover, amino acids help the body build muscle, transport nutrients, and prevent illness. Deficiency in amino acids can cause several health problems such as fertility issues, depression and compromised immunity.
How To Use Nuts When Cooking
While nuts are easy to snack on by the handful, they can also be used in several ways when cooking. Examples include:
- Substitute dairy milk with nut milk
- Use as a garnish for salads and stir-fries
- Pulverize into flour
- Add to trail mix and yogurt
- Blend into butter
Recipe : Nut Butter
- 3 cups raw nuts of your choice (peanuts, almonds, pistachio, cashew).
- Optional add-ins: vanilla extract, sea salt, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, chocolate.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and add raw nuts to a baking sheet.
- Roast raw nuts for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add nuts to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.
- Once creamy, add salt (or other add-ins of your choice).
- Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!