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Why Are Nuts Good For Us? How Many Should We Eat Daily?

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Gina Hodge

Curejoy Expert Gina Hodge Explains:

Ayurveda recommends nuts of all kinds in moderation. Nut milks, nut butters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are excellent for pacifying vata. Blanched and peeled almonds in moderation, and coconuts, are good for Pitta, as are sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Nuts increase Kapha, but sunflower and pumpkin seeds in moderation are acceptable in a Kapha diet.

Many studies have attested to the wonderful benefits of nuts. A Loma Linda University study showed that those who consumed nuts five times a week had about a 50% reduction in the risk of heart attack. Studies have also indicated that nuts may also help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and the phytochemical and phytosterol content of nuts help fight some forms of cancer.

According to a health claim for nuts first established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003, scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces (42 grams) per day of most nuts (as part of an overall healthy diet) may be able to reduce risk of heart disease.

The Department of Agriculture recommends, One serving of nuts which would roughly equal about 28 peanuts, 22 almonds, 20 pecan halves, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 7 brazil nuts, 20 hazelnuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 47 pistachios, or two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Ayurveda claims that almonds are saatvic nuts that help to produce ojas, the finest by-product of digestion. Almonds are energizing, and balancing for the mind. About ten almonds a day is the general recommendation, but if you have a Kapha imbalance, then eat about five almonds per day at the most. Almond milk is considered extremely nourishing. Almonds can also be consumed in the form of a nut butter such as the Organic Almond Butter.

Cashew nuts and pistachio nuts are also used in ayurvedic cooking. They add both taste and protein to the vegetarian diet. Walnuts have astringent properties and are good for people trying to balance Kapha. One walnut a day is good for growing children as it is considered to have medhya qualities (nourishing for the brain). They are considered as natural stress-busters.

 Peanuts are not recommended in Ayurveda as they are not really nuts but legumes. They are considered difficult to digest and can make one feel sluggish and lethargic in body and mind. Other nuts, including pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts are good for pacifying Vata.

Buy fresh nuts as rancid oils from nuts can actually increase free radicals and are considered toxic. Eating a handful of nuts along with some raisins helps to digest the nuts and is a popular ayurvedic snack-great for children after school or on a hiking trip or long car ride.