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Nuts benefits have recently filtered into the consciousness of mainstream health discussions. Whereas in the past, the caloric and fat content of nuts took the limelight and banished nuts into a 'negative list' of unhealthy foods, nowadays the antioxidant and 'good fat' content of some nuts have been rediscovered and provided this group of food with somewhat of a 'halo' effect.
Nuts are hard-shelled composite substances within fruits. These are described as "composite" as they are a combination of seeds and fruits. However, "nuts" have long been used as a general term for any hard-walled, edible kernel of a fruit.
The scientific definition of a 'nut' is that it is a dry fruit with a seed where its ovary wall becomes hard when mature and where the seed remains attached to the wall.
In culinary parlance, a 'nut' is generally used to refer to many seeds that do not fall into the scientific definition of the word. The word is often used to describe any edible kernel that has a shell.
Nuts are generally seen as energy foods owing to the fact that these are rich in oil. Nuts are often consumed raw, roasted, sprouted, or otherwise processed. Its oil is typically used in cooking as well as in cosmetics.
The following are examples of nuts defined as such in the culinary sense:
The following are the health food nutrients normally found in nuts that contribute to the health benefits that they impart:
In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a "qualified health claim" for peanuts and certain nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts, that allowed their packaging to carry the following claim: "Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease."
However, as with anything, moderation ought to be practiced when consuming nuts. Some of these nuts have very high caloric content which may contribute to unwanted weight gain.
The following are the health food benefits typically attributed to nuts:
Nuts are believed to help lower bad cholesterol levels in the body and thus may help lower the risk for heart diseases.
Some nuts may help lower the risk for diabetes.
Some nuts may help strengthen the immune system and help keep viruses and bacteria at bay.
Some nuts may help lower the risk for free radical damage due to their antioxidant content.
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