Are you crazy about nuts?

Vegans do not consume any kind of meat, seafood, dairy-products, eggs or any other animal product, such as honey or gelatin.

A balanced vegan diet is consisting of plant based foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains.

Nuts: The Health Benefits

Nuts are rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol; plus, they are a good source of phytosterols, compounds that help lower blood cholesterol. They are packed with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium

Recent studies pointed out that higher nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular diseases, that are still No. 1 when it comes to causes of death worldwide.  However, a 100 % plant-based diet may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 and vegans needs to plan the composition of their nutrition with due care. Adding various kinds of nutrient-dense nuts makes a significant contribution to a vegan diet because each kind of nut offers different dietary benefits.

Nuts do not only provide energy, complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, fibre and essential fatty acids but also high amounts of protein. Pistachios, almonds  and peanuts are among the protein-rich foods, only 50g of pistachios contain more protein than a typical egg. The combination of fibre, protein and fat in nuts provides satiety to meals and snacks. Whereas in a mixed diet vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is covered by milk-products and cheese vegans can add almonds, pistachios and cashews. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid. Macadamia nuts provide the highest content of health-promoting monounsaturated fatty-acids and are also rich in omega-7-fatty-acids.

Calcium can be obtained from plant-based foods like almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and brazil nuts. In addition, the last mentioned has the highest coverage of selenium. When it comes to the supply for zinc, vegans need to make smart choices because the highest amounts are naturally found in animal products like meat and cheese. Again, nuts can make a contribution, especially brazil nuts and pine nuts. It is more difficult to obtain iron from plant-based foods, but the combination with vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables helps absorbing iron from cashews, almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts.

If people choose to adopt a raw vegan diet, they do not eat cooked foods. Nuts in a vegan raw diet are even more important because vegans exclude legumes as protein-sources from their diet.

Nuts in a vegan diet do not only provide essential nutrients to prevent deficiencies and one-sidedness but are also an enrichment in flavour and variety. Nuts are characterised by being “ready to eat” and easy to transport as a snack. They can be added to various dishes either cooked, raw or soaked and finely ground for spreads (nut butters), ice-cream, raw ‘cheese’cake style cakes and milk. It can be expected, that vegan eaters can boost the demand for nuts.

As a vegan, do you include nuts in your choices?  If so, how? Please comment below.

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