With such a variety of nuts and seeds out there in the market, it’s getting easier to add them to our diets.
“They bring a host of benefits,” says registered dietitian Nicole Osinga. “They bring healthy fats, protein and some fibre. In addition, they also provide a number of micronutrients that we sometimes have trouble getting in our diet, including magnesium, B vitamins and iron.”
She adds a healthy portion size of nuts and seeds is one-quarter of a cup.
Registered dietitian Shahzadi Devje, adds while research shows there are plenty of benefits of eating nuts and seeds on the daily, it gets very easy to over-consume them.
“It’s important to be mindful of your portions, especially if you’re watching your weight,” she tells Global News. “You also want to make room for other foods in your diet to meet your complete nutritional needs.”
Shopping for nuts and seeds
When it comes to shopping for nuts and seeds, avoid packages with added salt or flavours. “I love to add my own flavour by roasting or toasting them and adding some spices such as cinnamon and cumin before eating them,” Osinga says.
Devje has a couple of rules she follows, including buying nuts and seeds as fresh as possible and in small amounts — because of their high-fat content, they tend to go rancid.
“Shop in busy stores for nuts and seeds because it’s likely their stock will be moving faster, offering fresher produce,” she adds.
She also suggests checking the appearances of the nuts and seeds. “They should appear intact, fresh and hard versus wrinkled, deformed or discoloured.”
You should also buy them in shells (when possible). “To check for freshness, shake the shell and if you hear a rattle, it indicates that the nut inside is old and has shrunk,” Devje says.
Below, Devje and Osinga show us simple (and healthy) ways to add nuts and seeds to every meal of the day.
“A sprinkle of chia seeds in your oatmeal, smoothie, or cereal will offer a boost of protein, fibre, omega 3s and antioxidants,” Devje says.
Osinga suggests adding hemp seeds to your smoothie for extra protein.
Toss your favourite nuts or seeds on salads to bring texture and crunch, Devje says.
“Virtually all nuts and seeds work well, however, these are particularly delicious options: walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds and chia seeds. If you struggle to chew nuts and seeds, make a dressing instead.”
She also suggests blending pumpkin seeds with garlic, cilantro and mix with lemon juice.
For dinner, Osinga suggests using pistachios for a crusted salmon or tofu dish, or using pine nuts to make a homemade pesto (just add basil, garlic and Parmesan to the mix).
“Use cashew nuts instead of heavy cream in stews, curries and soups to bring a rich and smooth texture,” Devje adds.
“Blend a handful of almonds with frozen bananas, unsweetened coconut flakes and a dash of milk to create your homemade super-easy, creamy ice cream,” Devje says.
Almonds will not only add a protein boost, but it will also include healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Snacking on just nuts or seeds is already nutritional, but both dietitians suggest adding them to other snacks.
Osinga suggests toasting nuts and seeds and adding them to popcorn, while Devje says nut butters are also nutritious.
“Dip your apple, pear or banana in your favourite all-natural nut butter. The protein in the nut butter will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and help prevent a spike in your blood sugars.”