I just came home from the Sports Nutrition Conference held last week. As I digest all that I learned there, I want to share some information about healthy nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds are a source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and many other nutrients.
It makes sense that seeds and nuts are very nutritious. After all, plants grow nuts or seeds. It makes sense that nuts and seeds would be life sustaining for animals (and human animals) that eat them.
Many nuts and seeds offer alpha linoleic acid, also known as ALA. ALA are a type of health-protective omega-3 polyunsaturated fat also known as an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
ALA is an important nutrient. Some studies have suggested that alpha-lipoic acid supplements may enhance the body’s ability to use its own insulin. This may help to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. ALA may help reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, the nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes.1
According to Web MD ALPHA-LINOLENIC ACID:
Alpha-linolenic acid is popular for preventing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. It is used to prevent heart attacks, lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reverse “hardening of the blood vessels” (atherosclerosis). There is some evidence that alpha-linolenic acid from dietary sources might be effective for all these uses except lowering cholesterol. Not enough is known yet to be able to rate alpha-linolenic acid’s effect on high cholesterol.
Alpha-linolenic acid is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, diabetes, renal disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Other uses include treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), migraine headache, skin cancer, depression, and allergic and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Want to add a nice crunch, along with vitamins and minerals, to your sports diet? Sprinkle some slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, pistachios, sunflower and sesame seeds into your yogurt, cereal salad or smoothie.
Despite all the benefits, dieters should be weary. When you nonchalantly toss a few spoonfuls of nuts and seeds into your smoothies and salads to pump up their nutritional value, you can also easily toss in 100 to 400 calories. While vegans may need this protein and calorie boost, weight-conscious athletes who consume dairy and animal proteins might want to think twice.
Comparing Seeds and Nuts
This chart shows how 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds—two spoonfuls or a large handful—adds a lot of calories but minimal protein towards the daily target of about 60 to 90 grams of protein. To get enough protein, vegans still need additional plant proteins, like beans or tofu.
(1/4 cup, 30 g)
60 to 90 grams
25 to 35 grams
8 mg men