Now this may sound a little nutty but have you considered making an effort to include nuts as a healthy form of protein source into your diet? Yes, it’s true. Protein is a source that can be derived from all sorts of other foods apart from the ones commonly known such as red meat and leafy vegetables. And of course nuts themselves also have a host of other added benefits and advantages apart from being rich protein sources.
Apart from being one of the best sources of plant-based proteins, nuts are also good sources of healthy fats, fibre, and other beneficial nutrients. Each type of nut offers different nutritional health benefits. Due to a host of these advantages, nuts and seeds are fast gaining popularity across the many pop diets that seem to spring up these days with amazing regularity. Both the vegan and the Paleo diets amongst others advocate protein from plant based sources. Nuts do not just become healthy protein and nutrient sources, they also add a much needed flavour profile to recipes which otherwise would not taste as good.
To understand nuts and their protein content better, let’s individually take a look at the most popular nuts and see how they are beneficial to us.
Peanut, groundnut or singdana as we call it is an Indian culinary favourite whenever condiments are discussed. It is ground, broken or then just sprinkled whole over delicious and quirky dishes. Peanuts are also incredible protein boosters to any diet. They are easy to find, largely less expensive than nuts that are classified as dry fruits and are packed with essential nutrients like polyphenols, antioxidants, flavonoids, and amino acids.
100 g of peanuts tend to contain about 567 calories, 25.80 g of protein, 49.24 g of fat, 16.13 g of carbs, 8.50 g of fibre and 4.72 g of sugar.
Peanuts lower the risk of heart disease, various cancers and also help with losing weight. The protein content in peanuts also brings benefits like better skin, hair, muscles and organ health.
Further reading: Reasons Why You Should Consume Peanut Butter
Another Indian kitchen favourite, the almond or Badam as we commonly know is considered to be the king of nuts due to its many benefits and exclusive nature. Almonds are used in all forms of Indian cooking including savoury and sweet courses and also as garnishes to bring about the exoticness of a dish. Due to their several health benefits, they are now grown and easily available across several varieties and while they contain a touch less protein than peanuts, they more than make up for it with other nutrients.
100 g of almonds tend to contain about 579 calories, 21.15 g of protein, 49.93 g of fat, 21.55 g of carbs, 12.50 g of fibre and 4.35 g of sugar.
Almonds are an ideal snack for people looking for healthy, protein-rich alternatives to unhealthy eating habits.
Pistachios or pista as we know them colloquially in Indian households are probably one of the most expensive nuts available in the country. They are available in both the salted and unsalted varieties and form a lovely accompaniment to meals and snacks. They are generally used to coat meat and certain vegetable before grilling them.
Pistachios contain good quantities of protein and other vital nutrients. They are also a great source of healthful fatty acids and antioxidants.
100 g of pistachios tend to contain about 560 calories, 20.16 g of protein, 45.32 g of fat, 27.17 g of carbs, 10.60 g of fibre and 7.66 g of sugar.
A study published in Nutrition Today noted that eating pistachios has a beneficial effect on blood pressure and endothelial function, which may lead to a reduced risk of heart-related health issues.
Cashew Nut or Kaju as we know it in India is so much more than what you eat in or get from Goa. While they are commonly available in Goa, Cashews have become popular in food across the country and especially in the North where they are used liberally to help accentuate rich gravies and kormas for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The calcium and potassium in cashews are vital for bone health and the high level of magnesium in cashews is essential for optimal health. It improves blood pressure, maintaining nerve function, regulating blood sugar, and various functions throughout the body.
100 g of Cashews tend to contain about 553 calories, 18.22 g of protein, 43.85 g of fat, 30.19 g of carbs, 3.19 g of fibre and 5.91 g of sugar.
Cashews are also rich in monounsaturated fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Ah! Hazelnuts. The nut best known in India to be enjoyed when someone brings you a chocolate from abroad or then the thin crispy coating of everyone’s favourite foreign chocolate, the Ferrero Roche. It is the distinctive flavour of this exotic nut which is what makes it a great accompaniment to everything sweet including desserts and dessert spreads of all sorts. In terms of their protein content though, this particular nut contains the least. However it is still very healthy and is known to be a proven source of food to lessen cholesterol levels in the body.
100 g of Hazelnuts tend to contain about 628 calories, 14.95 g of protein, 60.75 g of fat, 16.70 g of carbs, 9.7 g of fibre and 4.34 g of sugar.
Walnuts or akhrot is grown widely in India and used in all sorts of savoury and dessert dishes across the length and breadth of the country. Its distinct nutty flavour is used often to break the monotony of a pre dominant flavour, usually sweet which is why it is once again a dessert favourite.
Walnuts are a great source of protein, however they are higher in fat content than most other nuts that we talk about. This obviously also increases their calorie count. The good thing to note about walnut fats is that the type of fats in them offers several health benefits as well.
100 g of Walnuts tend to contain about 654 calories, 15.23 g of protein, 65.21 g of fat, 13.71 g of carbs, 6.7 g of fibre and 2.61 g of sugar.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid which is an essential fat critically lacking in most diets. This fat not only reduces the risk of some cancers and heart disease, but is key in supporting mental health.
Make your Meal Nutty
There are several different ways to add nuts to your diet which can be made fun and enjoyable and will also help elevate the taste and flavour profile of what you may be eating. The awesome thing about nuts is that you don’t need to cook them at all. You could just munch on all of these above nuts as a very healthy snack. They will keep you full and also reduce cravings for junk and sweets. Drinking nut milk and consuming nut butters in cooking are another excellent way of consuming nuts. Nuts can be ground up in Indian masalas or then sprinkled whole on salads to add that extra crunch and texture to what you eat as well.
If you’re nuts about protein just as we are, you can always pick up or order a variety of nuts and dry fruits from here.