Why seeds and nuts should be part of your healthy diet

Nutritionist Liz Tucker on how nutritionally-dense seeds and nuts can play an important role in a healthy diet

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
seeds and nuts
Seeds and nuts are nutritionally dense Photo: Flickr

Nutritionist Liz Tucker explains why nutritionally-dense seeds and nuts can play an important role in a healthy diet and also be a great source of energy sportspeople.

Why eat seeds and nuts?

Seeds are really nutritionally dense, they’re a really important part of our diet – the one we were originally intended to eat, which was a hunter-gatherer type of diet. Humans were really designed to eat a lot more nuts, seeds and vegetables.

What sets them apart from other energy sources?

Say you’ve got a doughnut and handful of brazil nuts. They both have the same calorie content and probably have the same high fat content but the doughnut is just a source of energy – all it contains is sugar, starch and fat, whereas in brazil nuts or seeds, every calorie has a whole range of nutrients in it.

The nuts or seeds may have 600 calories but there are masses of other things in them, such as essential amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. One calorie of a doughnut is empty – there’s nothing else in it nutritionally. In a nutritionally-dense food, every calorie is a nutritionally-dense calorie. We are designed to eat a nutritionally-dense diet because every single bit of us is made out of nutrients, so we need to have a lot of them in our body and not just carbs, fats and proteins.

You can eat a doughnut and it’s a source of energy but without those other nutrients you can’t process that into useful energy because it has to go through a digestive process, which relies on things like proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins to work. So for you to get energy out of a doughnut, you have to process it with lots of other nutrients.

If you eat nutritionally-dense food, you can eat the energy value of it and process it immediately, so you’ll feel much more energised throughout the day because you’ll get the resources you need to process energy as you consume it. If you eat empty calories, you’ll end up just stockpiling potential energy – you’ll put on weight and feel very sluggish.

It’s very important for sportspeople because they want to get maximum energy from the food that they’re eating, and also because they have to eat in quite a compact way, so that’s why nuts and seeds are so valuable.

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