Nuts and seeds are one of our favorite ways to get the big three nutrients: protein, fiber, and healthy fat. This combination helps balance blood sugar and provide sustained energy, something we definitely want from a snack.
Beyond the macronutrients, nuts and seeds offer essential micronutrients and phytonutrients. Keep reading to learn more details and understand why nuts and seeds are cornerstone ingredients in Scott’s Protein Balls.
Are Nuts and Seeds A Healthy Snack?
Are nuts a healthy snack? Are seeds a healthy snack? The short answer is yes!
Some of our favorite nuts and seeds include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Note that peanuts are not nuts, they are legumes, but they are nutritionally similar and have health benefits of nuts.
Nuts and seeds are some of the only whole foods that count as high fiber foods, high protein snacks, and healthy fats – all in one. Because of these properties, including nuts and seeds in the diet supports:
- Balanced blood sugar
- Balanced cholesterol and lipids
- Heart health
- Metabolic health
- Hormonal health
With so much controversy in the nutrition world, most experts agree including nuts and seeds in the diet is a good idea. Nuts and seeds are an important component of a wide variety of diets, including plant-based, paleo, keto, vegetarian, and more!
Let’s dive into the nutritional value of nuts and seeds next.
Nutritional Value of Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are botanically the seed of the plant. There is so much nutrition and potential in each little seed! Each seed contains all the nutrients needed to grow an entirely new plant or tree of the species.
Sometimes fat still gets a bad rap, but the truth is that eating fat doesn’t make you fat and is essential for health and wellness. The essential fats called alpha lipoic acid (an omega-3 fat) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fat) found in nuts and seeds are critical for composing the cell membranes of every cell in the body. They play an important role in balancing inflammation and cellular communication. Fats also provide energy and help with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
When we talk about the walnut or flaxseed benefits, for example, the high level of omega-3s tops the list.
High Fiber Foods
How is dietary fiber beneficial to health?
Fiber helps to
- Balance blood sugar and lower cholesterol
- Support regular digestion
- Provide food to beneficial bacteria in the gut
Luckily nuts and seeds are an incredible source of fiber. The nutritional value of chia seeds includes a whopping 3.4 grams of fiber in just one tablespoon.
High Protein Snacks
High protein foods make the best snacks; there’s no doubt about it. Building snacks around protein helps stabilize energy, balance blood sugar, reduce cravings, and meet your daily protein needs.
We always recommend “dressing up” your carbs with protein. Adding almond butter to your apple or cheese to your crackers are examples.
What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients are the essential vitamins and minerals we must get through our diet. Nuts and seeds are incredible sources of micronutrients, including:
- Vitamin E
Each nut or seed has a different micronutrient profile. For example, Brazil nuts are the food containing the highest levels of selenium, and pumpkin seeds are a great plant source of zinc.
What are phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, fall outside the vitamin and mineral categories but are incredibly important to health. Many phytonutrients have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Nuts and seeds are a great source of phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, lignans, polyphenols, and more. Understanding the phytonutrients helps you to use nuts and seeds therapeutically to achieve health goals.
As you can see, nuts and seeds are nutrition powerhouses. They are accessible, convenient, and come in their own little package, making them an excellent snack all on their own or combined with other healthful ingredients in Scott’s Protein Balls.