The enduring increase in the use of nuts within Indian cuisine is due to its broad appeal

Nuts are a nutritional powerhouse that is bite-sized. They are also a part of the culinary history of the world. Since ancient times, they have been adored for their distinct flavor, unique textures, and numerous health benefits.

Since the beginning, nuts have always been an integral element of Indian food, adding a part of richness to various food items. They aren’t only ingredients but coveted due to their distinct flavor. The rich, creamy gravies, aromatic biryanis, and delicious desserts loaded with nuts have become the hallmarks of banquets at royal houses.

Nuts enhance the texture and taste of food items, act as powerhouses of nutrients, and are essential for healthy eating.

Add nuts, and get benefits.

When we consider the importance of nuts as part of a balanced diet, it becomes clear that these little nuts are more than delicious crunch. Dr. Nikita Chavan-Joshi from the Clinic of Nutrition, Bengaluru, sheds light on how nuts effortlessly fit into our daily diet and can improve our health in many ways.

Nuts, although calorie-dense, are also packed with nutrients. Dr. Chavan-Joshi states, “They do not cause sugar spikes, making them ideal for those with diabetes and those practising intermittent fasting.”

Shristi D. Chatlani is a sports nutritionist from Bengaluru. Shristi D Chatlani, sports nutritionist, Bengaluru: “Almonds provide vitamin E and magnesium, which can benefit the heart and skin health. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in brain function. And cashews are rich in zinc and iron that are vital for the immune system.”

Their high nutritional density and high fiber content make them an ideal breakfast option while promoting long-lasting energy levels and feeling full. Because of their protein content, they can ward off cravings for food and serve as a healthy snack. They are also a great accompaniment to meals or be an after-dinner snack, offering the perfect snack between meals.

Dr. Chavan-Joshi suggests starting the day with a handful of nuts since this increases the health of your digestive system.

What’s the calorie count?

Dr. Chavan-Joshi discusses the issue that nuts cause weight increase. “Excess quantity definitely is going to pile up and add to weight gain,” she says while stressing the importance of controlling portion sizes.

Chatlani stresses the importance of portion control and recommends around six servings of nuts weekly to adults. A serving, about 15 grams, is equivalent to about a handful.

Within the variety of nuts on markets, nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios stand out as the most nutritious, offering distinct advantages.

Interestingly, cashews are at a lower level of the nutrition ladder because of their higher calorie count. Dr. Chavan-Joshi suggests moderation when eating cashews and stresses the importance of selecting nuts with a balanced nutritional profile.

She recommends eating unsalted and unsweetened nuts, advising against salted varieties that could decrease the nutritional value. She also explains the benefits of the oils from nuts, which are excellent ingredients for cooking; however, she acknowledges they lack fiber compared to whole nuts.

One word of warning

While we look into the many ways to enjoy our nuts, one word of caution comes from Dr. Chavan-Joshi. She suggests that we refrain from steaming or cooking nuts as these practices could deprive the nuts of their nutritional value. “During the cooking process, a portion of protein, some carbohydrates, and beneficial fats might be lost,” she cautions.

While frying nuts with Ghee can enhance the flavor and aroma, particularly in desserts, it doesn’t maximize their nutritional value. “The true essence of reaping the benefits of nuts lies in their natural, unadulterated form, devoid of frying,” Dr. Chavan-Joshi explains.

Discussing various methods of preparation, Chatlani recommends consuming nuts in their natural state for maximum advantages. However, she suggests soaking overnight to improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients. This method is especially effective for walnuts and almonds, making them more digestible by the body.

Dr. Chavan-Joshi adds that tree nuts can cause allergies. The symptoms could be mild discomfort or life-threatening scenarios. Initial symptoms could include swelling, itching, hives, and digestive issues. You should seek medical attention if symptoms increase due to breathing problems, a rapid heartbeat, or severe swelling. Be vigilant and seek prompt assistance can be lifesaving.