Benefits of Nuts & Seeds
Nuts in general are very nutritious, providing protein and many
essential vitamins, such as A and E, minerals, such as phosphorous
and potassium, and fibre. Nuts are also high in carbohydrate and
oils, so shouldn't be eaten in excess.
Whereas pulses all belong to the legume group of plants, nuts come
from a variety of different plant groups, so the nutritional content
is more varied too. A brief description of individual varieties
is given below, together with the main nutrients they contain.
Almond oil is used for flavouring and for skin care preparations
and is extracted from the kernel of the Bitter Almond. The Sweet
Almond is grown for nuts for eating and have the largest share of
the nut trade world-wide. Almond flour is available and it is possible
to make a nutritious nut milk from almonds. Almonds are particularly
nutritious, 100g contain 16.9g protein, 4.2mg iron, 250mg calcium,
20mg vitamin E, 3.1mg zinc and 0.92mg vitamin B2.
Native to America but now grown extensively in India and East Africa.
It will withstand rather drier conditions than most other nuts.
The nut grows in a curious way on the tree, hanging below a fleshy,
apple-like fruit. It is related to the mango, pistachio and poison
ivy. High in protein and carbohydrate, 100g cashews contain 17.2g
protein, 60 micrograms vitamin A, 3.8mg iron.
Hazel, also called Cob, is a common wild tree in Europe and Asia
and its nuts have been eaten by humans since earliest times. The
cultivated varieties are bigger and the filbert is a similar but
bigger species from SE Europe. Used in sweet and savoury dishes,
they are available whole, ground and flaked, or made into oil and
nut butter. 100g hazel nuts contain 7.6g protein, and they are lower
in fat than most other nuts.
Also known as groundnuts or monkey nuts, peanuts are actually legumes.
Of South American origin, it's now an important crop all over the
tropics and southern USA. It gets its name groundnut because as
the pods ripen, they are actually forced underground. Peanuts are
high in protein and contain 40-50% oil. The oil is used in cooking,
as salad oil, in margarines and the residue is fed to animals. Whole
peanuts can be eaten raw or roasted or made into peanut butter (look
out for brands which do not contain hydrogenated oils, which are
highly saturated). As they are usually inexpensive, they can be
mixed with other kinds of nuts to bring down the cost, while still
maintaining flavour and good nutrition. 100g peanuts contain 24.3g
protein, 2mg iron and 3mg zinc.
Native to the Near East and Central Asia but has long been cultivated
in the Mediterranean region and more recently in the Southern US.
The kernels are green and are prized as much for their ornamental
colour as for their flavour. Also sold roasted and salted in their
shells. They are more expensive than most other nuts. 100g pistachios
contain 19.3g protein, 14mg iron, 140mg calcium.
It is grown for timber as well as its nuts. Walnut oil has been
used for centuries in the preparation of artists paints. High in
fat, they go rancid very quickly and should be stored in the fridge
or freezer. 100g walnuts contain 10.6g protein and 2.4mg iron.
Can be eaten raw or cooked in both sweet or savoury dishes. Delicious
toasted and sprinkled, while hot, with soya sauce and served on
salads. They are rich in protein, iron, zinc and phosphorous. 100g
pumpkin seeds contain 29g protein, 11.2mg iron and 1144mg phosphorous.
An annual plant belonging to the daisy family, it probably originated
in North America or Mexico. North American Indians cultivated sunflowers
as long as 2,000 years ago. The oil extracted from its seeds is
used in margarine, varnishes and soaps but the seeds can be eaten
whole, raw or cooked. They can be added to breads and cakes or sprinkled
over salad or breakfast cereals. A good source of potassium and
phosphorous, 100g sunflower seeds also contain 24g protein and 7.1mg
iron and 120mg calcium.