Sunflower Seeds

Even before I entertained the idea that my diet should move in a more healthy direction, I always liked Sunflower seeds.  I was wondering what the nutritional profile of those little kernels that tasted so good would be, so I decided to do a little research. Beyond just the nutritional profile I wondered what the health benefits might include.  Here is the basic nutritional data:

Sunflower seeds dry roasted

Sunflower seeds nutrional profile

As you can see Sunflower seeds are relatively high in fat, but also include a generous amount of protein and some fiber.
Well beyond the basic nutritional data we need to look a little deeper into some of the benefits of the sunflower seed:
  • Low in Cholesterol and Sodium.
  • good source of Thiamin and Vitamin B6.
  • High in Magnesium which studies have shown that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Also contains Phosphorus, Copper, and Manganese.
  • High amounts of Selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
  • A very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol).  Vitamin E has been shown to be good for your hair and skin, and contains antioxidants that remove free radicals that damage cells.
  • A good source of protein.

Now while the sunflower seed has a substantial fat content and is fairly high in calories, its many health benefits make it a great addition to just about anyone’s diet.

Namaste

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Health benefits of common nuts

common nuts

The focus of this post will be on the health benefits of some of the most commonly consumed nuts including almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Nuts are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins,  minerals, and essential fats. Everyone can benefit from eating nuts, but especially those of you who are eliminating meat and dairy from your diets. Of course not all nuts have the same nutritional profile, and this will be something we delve into, hopefully providing you some guidance or at least an understanding of the differences between these commonly consumed nuts. Let’s look at each of these nuts for their overall benefits and nutritional data:

Almonds

This is a calcium rich nut that is great for your bones especially if you have eliminated dairy products from your diet. Almonds have a high amount of vitamin E making them good for your skin, and the outer skin on the almond has flavonoids that help protect your heart.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (23 whole nuts) of raw almonds contains 6.02 grams protein, 14 grams of fat163 calories, and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 200 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 75 mg
Magnesium – 76 mg
Iron – 1.05 mg
Selenium – 0.7 mcg
Zinc – 0.87 mg
Manganese – 0.648 mg
Copper – 0.282 mg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.06 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.287 mg
Niacin – 0.96 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.133 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.041 mg
Vitamin E – 7.43 mg

 

Cashews

A great source of protein they are also rich in iron and zinc, which makes cashews a great choice if you’re following a vegetarian diet. Containing generous amounts of the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of raw, unsalted cashew nuts contains 5.17 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat157 calories and 0.94 grams of fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 187 mg
Phosphorus – 168 mg
Calcium – 10 mg
Magnesium – 83 mg
Iron – 1.89 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.469 mg
Zinc – 1.64 mg
Copper – 0.622 mg
Selenium – 5.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.1 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.12 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.016 mg
Niacin – 0.301 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.118 mg
Folate – 7 mcg
Vitamin E – 0.26 mg
Vitamin K – 9.7 mcg

 

Peanuts

Surprisingly the lowly peanut rivals many of the most nutritious nuts chosen by the USDA. This nut is heart-healthy overall, and contains resveratrol, the same flavonoid sought from red grapes and red wine.  Peanuts have the highest amount of protein, the third least calories, and the absolute highest amount of Folate (folic acid), a water-soluble B-complex vitamin that is rare in nuts .

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted peanuts contains 6.71 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat166 calories and 2.3 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium -187 mg
Phosphorus – 101 mg
Calcium – 15 mg
Magnesium – 50 mg
Iron – 0.64 mg
Sodium – 2 mg
Manganese – 0.591 mg
Zinc – 0.94 mg
Copper – 0.190 mg
Selenium – 2.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.124 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.028 mg
Niacin – 3.834 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.395 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.073 mg
Folate – 41 mcg
Vitamin E – 1.96 mg

 

Pecans

The pecan is a heart-friendly nut that is packed with plant sterols, valuable compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also have high levels of antioxidants which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. The pecan is also rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado.

Nutritional Data: One ounce (19 halves) of raw pecans contains 2.6 grams protein, 20 grams of fat196 calories and 2.7 grams fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 116 mg
Phosphorus – 79 mg
Calcium – 20 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 0.72 mg
Manganese – 1.276 mg
Zinc – 1.28 mg
Copper – 0.34 mg
Selenium – 1.1 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.3 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.187 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.01 mg
Niacin – 0.331 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.245 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.06 mg
Folate – 6 mcg
Vitamin A – 16 IU
Vitamin E – 0.4 mg
Vitamin K – 1 mcg

 

Pistachios

Packed with antioxidants,and are the only nut that skyrockets in lutein and zeaxanthin, the only two carotenoid antioxidants that accumulate in the retinas of our eyes. Pistachios also have the most selenium, an anti-inflammatory trace element that aids our immune systems and helps prevent viral infections and cancer. While I love all of these nuts this is by far my favorite just because it tastes so good.

Nutritional Data: One ounce of dry roasted pistachio nuts (no salt) (49 kernels) contains 6.05 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, 162 calories and 2.9 grams of dietary fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 295 mg
Phosphorus – 137 mg
Calcium – 31 mg
Magnesium – 34 mg
Iron – 1.19 mg
Sodium – 3 mg
Manganese – 0.361 mg
Zinc – 0.65 mg
Copper – 0.376 mg
Selenium – 2.6 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.7 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.238 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.045 mg
Niacin – 0.404 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.145 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.361 mg
Folate – 14 mcg
Vitamin A – 74 IU
Vitamin E – 0.55 mg
Vitamin K – 3.7 mcg

 

Walnuts

With their superior antioxidant content walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. A good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). The Walnut is also rich in omega-3, so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.

Nutritional Data: 1 ounce (14 halves) English walnuts contains 4.32 mg protein, 18 grams of fat185 calories and 1.9 mg fiber.

Minerals

Potassium – 125 mg
Phosphorus – 98 mg
Calcium – 28 mg
Magnesium – 45 mg
Iron – 0.82 mg
Sodium – 1 mg
Manganese – 0.968 mg
Zinc – 0.88 mg
Copper – 0.45 mg
Selenium – 1.4 mcg

Vitamins

Vitamin C – 0.4 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.097 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.043 mg
Niacin – 0.319 mg
Pantothenic Acid – 0.162 mg
Vitamin B6 – 0.152 mg
Folate – 28 mcg
Vitamin A – 6 IU
Vitamin E – 0.2 mg
Vitamin K – 0.8 mcg

While there are differences in the nutrients derived from these nuts, there is also a many similarities and they all provide a healthy dose of potassium and phosphorus, generous amounts of protein, the good kind of fat, and much needed fiber. So instead of reaching for that bag of chips or bowl of ice cream, grab a handful of cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, or peanuts. You will feel so much better about what you are putting in your body, and you will find nuts are both a delicious and satisfying treat.

Munch on my friends.

 

References:

http://www.health-alternatives.com/nut-seed-nutrition-chart.html

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-nuts

http://voices.yahoo.com/6-best-healthiest-most-nutritious-nuts-chosen-usda-7227788.html?cat=5

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635?pg=1

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/go-nuts-your-diet

http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/the-best-and-worst-nuts-for-your-health-1

Day 4 of the Vegetarian diet

vegetarian-diet-health-benefits

A long long time ago I blogged about my terrible diet that consisted of pizzas, hamburgers, ice cream, and a variety of other foods that had an absence of fruits or vegetables.  I always suffered from the work out like a maniac and eat like a pig syndrome.  So for the last 4 days I have stopped eating all forms of meat.  I have allowed myself some cheese, milk, and yogurt and most of the other things I have eaten has been vegetables and fruits.  It has only been 4 days so the jury is out as to any long term affects of following an lacto (milk) octo (egg) vegetarian diet, but I do have a few observations to share.

vegetarian week

Let me make it clear I don’t despise meat it is just that I loved it so much that I tended to eat very little vegetables and almost zero fruits.  This obsession with animal protean was really limiting the consumption of other good foods and my diet was not really great, although I did a pretty good job limiting the amount of simple carbohydrates I consumed.  As I seem to have a problem with moderation I just decided to eliminate the meat which would force me to consume more fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.  Here is what I found out:

  • I feel lighter
  • I don’t gorge myself anymore and don’t feel so bloated
  • I swear my stomach is shrinking at least a little
  • The additional fiber is doing wonders for my digestive system
  • I feel like I have more energy

Not bad for 4 days.

There are additional reasons that I am pursuing this lacto octo vegetarian diet, but some of those might sound like preaching, so for now I would rather talk about how it makes me feel versus some meat eaters vs. vegetarianism world view.  I would love to hear from others who have tried vegetarian diets.

Namaste

7 Nutritional Hacks

I just finished reading an article from my Twitter feed called “7 Nutritional Hacks” published by Bodybuilding.com.  Lots of good advice, but one thing that struck me was HACK NO. 5: DON’T BOIL YOUR VEGETABLES.  Now think about this it really makes sense, they are not saying eat them raw, but don’t boil the heck out of them leaching all the nutrients into the water.  They are suggesting in this article if you want to cook them you can saute them in butter or steam them, or if you must boil them then drink the water they were boiled in.  This all seems very logical to me, but now I must find a steamer that won’t turn my vegetables into mush, maybe the saute route would be better.  This is really about taking something that is good for you and making sure you are getting the maximum nutritional value and not pouring most of the good stuff down the drain.

Can anyone recommend a good steamer?

Read about the other 6 nutritional hacks at Bodybuilding.com

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/7-nutritional-hacks-for-greater-health.html?mcid=twit05021814

 

Another favorite vegetable – The Lima Bean

baby-lima-beans

Last time I posted on the topic of nutrition I spent a little time talking about how spinach is a good choice for a vegetable, but I can’t eat spinach all the time.  Another big favorite vegetable of mine is the Lima Bean.  So again pulling out my Nutrition Data app and it says that 100 grams of Lima beans has the following nutritional makeup:

  • Calories 105
  • Total Fat 0.3g
  • Saturated Fat 0.1g
  • Total Carbs 19.4g
  • Fiber 6.7g
  • Sugars 1.4g
  • Protein 6.6g

I guess for me another revelation is how much protein you can get from some of these vegetables.  There is almost as much protein in 100 grams of Lima beans as there is fiber.  So if we convert grams to ounces and assume I ate about 7 ounces (200 grams) of Lima beans we find that I consumed 13.4 grams of fiber and 13.2 grams of protein.  Not bad for some baby Lima beans and very little sugar.  Yes I did throw in a little butter, salt, and pepper to make it all palatable.  I guess one could recommend Lima beans as a decent source of fiber and protein, and this is what continues to amaze me.  My quest to discover the fat, sugar, fiber, and protein content of vegetables will continue.  Something all you nutrition experts already knew, but including some veggies can boost your protein intake like I never would have imagined.

 

Follow-up #1 on What am I eating?

Popeye spinach

Sure it took me a few days to start interjecting some vegetables into my diet, as old habits die-hard.  So last night after I worked out I decided not to eat a pizza, but instead had a few ounces of tuna fish (no bread), and about 8 ounces of frozen cut leaf spinach cooked of course.  Strangely enough I felt better than usual, more energy and not as bloated as when I consumed the better part of a pizza myself, or as in my dinner the day before of 4 hot dogs and baked beans.  I like spinach and have made some assumptions about it being a pretty decent vegetable to consume, but a bit of research was in order.  Pulling out my handy HTC One Android phone I checked my Nutrition Data app and it says that 100 grams of spinach has the following nutritional makeup:

  • Calories 34
  • Total Fat 0.9g
  • Saturated Fat 0.0 g
  • Total Carbs 4.8g
  • Fiber 3.7g
  • Sugars 0.5g
  • Protein 4.0g

So without getting to technical I learned that frozen cut leaf spinach is low in fat, high in fiber, and contains a surprisingly high amount of protein.  Figuring I must have consumed at least 8 ounces I converted this to grams which means I consumed about 250 of them.  So the spinach I ate contained about 85 calories, 9.25 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein.  So next time you go shopping pick out some high fiber, low-calorie, high protein spinach to go along with the rest of your meal.  Maybe Popeye knew what he was doing.  Next we will analyze another of my favorite vegetables the Lima Bean, now that should be nothing short of fascinating.