Nuts, Seeds and Beans
Nuts, seeds and beans are all fantastic sources of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. In addition they are low in saturated fat and sodium. Nuts and seeds contain 10-25 % protein are also high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Legumes/Beans (also known as pulses) can be stored easily and do retain most of their nutritional value through storage and cooking (how many healthy foods can you say that about!?).
Legumes help reduce blood cholesterol levels due to their high fibre content, and they have a low glycaemic index, which means blood sugars remain fairly constant. This is the reason legumes are particularly beneficial for diabetics or those at risk of developing diabetes.
Examples of beans: Aduki, black, black-eyed, borlotti, broad, butter, cannelloni, chickpeas (garbanzos), haricot, kidney, lentils, lima, dried peas (split or yellow), mung, soy
Most nuts are dense sources of nutrients and contain essential fats and proteins and a large selection of minerals and vitamins.
Examples of nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts
We’re not yet 100% sure why, but research shows that people who regularly consume nuts have a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Seeds are also a fantastic source of nutrients.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) provide vitamin E, potassium, protein, dietary fibre, and some B vitamins.
Sunflower seeds are high in protein, dietary fibre and minerals – including iron
Sesame seeds are rich in vitamin E, protein, dietary fibre, zinc and iron.
Safflower seeds provide protein, dietary fibre and a good selection of minerals and vitamins – including vitamin E
Poppy seeds are high in calcium (10g has 145mg) and supply some iron and dietary fibre
Tofu is made from highly nutritious soybeans. It has very little fat and is a great source of protein, vitamins and iron. It is pretty bland – and may take some getting used to! Depending on the coagulant used in the making of Tofu, the calcium level in tofu may even be greater than milk.
Tempeh is a tofu-like product made from soybeans. Health claims for tempeh include benefits for cardiovascular health, protection from breast and prostate cancers, and bone health. It is a great source of protein, iron, B-vitamins and calcium.
The reason soybeans, tofu and tempeh are so valued - especially for vegetarians - is because soybeans are so high in protein. This protein has a selection of amino acids which are much closer to human requirement than any other plant food. They also provide dietary fibre, calcium, iron, zinc and other minerals, and many B vitamins. Even Vitamin B12, which is usually only found in animal products, is produced in fermented soybean products such as tempeh.
I suggest you make up a mix of nuts and seeds (raw and unsalted) and eat one handful daily. Include pepitas & sunflower seeds and almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia and perhaps some sultanas and dried cranberries/goji berries for some sweetness.
Take a container with you in your bag or to work to sit on your desk or while you study etc. Nibble away – the other good thing about this is that they will make you thirsty – so help to ensure you drink enough water daily too!
If you usually base your meals about meat, start to base them around legumes. Grab a good vegetarian cookbook and get some ideas about what you/your family would like. I find that if I cook really yummy foods, the family doesn’t notice the lack of meat on their plate!
Nuts, Seeds and Beans