Winter Wellness: The Nutritional Benefits of Nuts
As the winter chill settles in and the days shorten, all we crave is comfort and warmth. You may reach for your blanket or hot water bottle but there is an unsung hero, rich in nutritional benefits waiting in the snack aisle to warm your heart and body – nuts!
Beyond being a tasty snack, nuts pack a powerful punch of nutrition which can make a real difference during the winter season. So, as the temperatures drop and the snowflakes fall, let’s take a look at some of our favourite nuts and explore some compelling reasons why you should consider making them your go-to winter snack.
As many of us may have experienced, the winter weather can be quite drying for our skin but did you know walnuts can help prevent this?
Walnuts are rich in Vitamin E, which as an antioxidant can help prevent free-radical damage to your skin. Vitamin E is also very hydrating, working as both a humectant (absorbing water into the skin) and an emollient (trapping water in the skin), preventing your skin from drying out in the harsh conditions.
The Vitamin E found in walnuts can also help to maintain your scalp’s natural moisture and prevent dandruff. It’s antioxidant properties can also help protect your scalp from harsh UV radiation which can irritate/dry out the skin further.
Almonds are also a rich source of antioxidants which can help prevent against oxidative stress which leads to inflammation, aging and chronic diseases like cancer. These antioxidants reside mostly in the brown skin of almonds.
The magnesium found in Almonds may also help to lower and regulate blood pressure and hypertension in the winter. Studies have shown that a deficiency in magnesium has strong correlations with high blood pressure, which is a contributor to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
Almonds also contain high levels of tryptophan which is converted into a molecule known as 5-HTP. This is then used to produce serotonin and melatonin which influence quality of sleep, cognitive function and your mood. So if you are a victim of seasonal depression, try factoring in some almonds during your mealtimes and you may see some positive results!
Cashews are an abundant source of Zinc, a micronutrient which plays a key role in several important bodily functions including supporting growth and maintaining neurological health.
Zinc also helps to maintain and strengthen your body’s natural immunity, which is especially important in winter. It does this by promoting the activation of white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infection as well as a catalyst for enzymes which break down the proteins found in viruses and bacteria, inhibiting them from spreading. It can also help to reduce oxidative stress and damage to DNA, helping to protect your body from chronic diseases.
It’s important to note that while nuts offer numerous nutritional health benefits, moderation is key due to their calorie density. Additionally, some people may have allergies to certain nuts, so it’s essential to be mindful of individual dietary restrictions when including nuts in meals.