The Importance of Dried Fruit, Nuts, and Oil Seeds in the Diet
Recent studies have emphasized the significance of incorporating dried fruit, nuts, or oil seeds into one’s diet. This group includes walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, and similar foods.
These items are known for their high fat content, primarily consisting of unsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, often referred to as “good” fats. Additionally, they contain notable percentages of proteins and essential mineral salts such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and fiber.
Almonds are particularly rich in calcium, providing 240 mg per hectogram, while pistachios stand out for their iron content, with approximately 7 mg per hectogram. Furthermore, these nuts contain significant levels of vitamins and antioxidants, particularly vitamin E.
The protein level in these foods is also noteworthy, with pine nuts leading the group with 30% protein content. Despite having approximately 600-700 calories per 100 grams, the recommended intake quantity is 4-6 walnuts, 10-15 almonds or hazelnuts, and 30-40 pistachios.
Given the protein content, fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3, vitamins, mineral salts, and fiber, dried fruits are particularly beneficial for vegetarians, vegans, growing children, students, and athletes. They offer antioxidant properties and contribute to cardiovascular health by combatting free radicals. Moreover, numerous scientific studies have attested to the positive effects of walnut consumption on heart disease risk factors, without any adverse effects on body weight.
Regular walnut consumption has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on blood vessel walls, thus preventing atherosclerosis. Moreover, a Swedish study has shown that consuming dried fruits at least three times a week can reduce the onset of cardiac arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation.
Almonds, with their high concentration of calcium and magnesium, are recommended for individuals intolerant to dairy products to promote bone health and combat osteoporosis. Additionally, the consumption of walnuts has been associated with an increase in beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microbiota, which has anti-inflammatory effects on the gut.
When to Consume Them?
Due to their high nutrient content and caloric intake, it is advisable to consume nuts in moderate quantities and not as part of main meals. Instead, they can be consumed for breakfast, as an energy snack for athletes or students, or between meals. It is worth noting that these foods are also suitable for individuals with celiac disease due to their gluten-free nature.
Individuals with allergies to dried fruits, particularly peanuts, should exercise caution. Those allergic to hazelnut or birch pollen may also experience reactions from consuming raw dried fruits. Ideally, unsalted, unsweetened, natural, and seasonal dried fruits of high quality should be chosen for consumption.
In conclusion, the incorporation of dried fruits, nuts, and oil seeds into one’s diet, when consumed correctly and in appropriate quantities, can contribute significantly to overall health and well-being.
Fabio Diana, Specialist in Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine