Many of today's families are busy and on the go constantly, juggling work, school and extracurricular activities. This makes healthy eating a challenge. Still, parents want and need to teach their children how eating well promotes great health. Luckily, just a little planning can ensure that nutritious and gluten-free snacks are available for kids to choose from, even when they are away from home. Nuts are powerhouses of protein, healthy fats and fiber; they are the perfect snack for growing children, with minerals and antioxidants to keep them healthy as they learn and develop.
Choosing nut snacks for both adults and children is a wise and nourishing move. Here are just a few of the reasons:
Oxidative damage is a problem for health, but nuts can help avert that problem due to plenty of antioxidants. Body cells rely on energy molecules to power all activities, from doing school work to swinging a baseball bat to practicing ballet. These mitochondrial powerhouses create energy by transporting protons as oxygen reacts with them, producing water as a harmless result. Conversely, when oxygen reacts with energy molecules to create O2 or other free radicals, they can create instability that damage cell proteins, cell membranes, and in extreme cases, even genetic code. Obviously, it's quite important to prevent this type of damage to the body.
Damages caused by free radical reactions are called oxidative stress, and they've been linked to many chronic health issues. Though many of these health issues, such as neurodegenerative diseases -- Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease -- as well as cancer, are seen as largely problems of the aged, it is never too early to fight against this bodily damage by eating healthy foods.
Luckily, there are substances within foods that can protect cells against oxidative damage; these are called antioxidants and are noted as fighters against oxidative stress and damage. In fact, antioxidants are thought to slow and even reverse this type of damage, making them an important element of reducing the risk of chronic disease.
The body produces some antioxidants naturally, including coenzyme Q, bilirubin, melatonin and alpha-lipoic acid, but others must be found in the foods that are consumed to boost antioxidant activity for great health. Knowing which antioxidants are important is key to getting the right ones into a child's diet easily. Here are a few vital antioxidants, along with where they can be found:
With all of the health benefits found in nuts, they should be a part of every child's regular diet. While nuts do contain a considerable amount of fat, it is healthy fat for the most part, making them much healthier than saturated fats found in meat, dairy products and eggs. Still, moderation is key when eating nuts, so teaching children proper portions is vital. A small handful is an appropriate serving size, as is 2 tablespoons of nut butter. This breaks down to about 20 almonds, 15 cashews, 15 pecans, 30 pistachio kernels, 9 walnut kernels or a handful of mixed nuts. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of nuts per week, preferably raw or dry-roasted.
Almost all nuts are generally healthy, though some definitely have higher nutrient loads. For instance, walnuts contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds, hazelnuts and pecans are nutrient dynamos as well. Even the lowly peanut, actually a legume, is quite good for heart health. Calories and fat vary among the different types of nuts, with roasted chestnuts being the least calorie- and fat-dense, and macadamias, pecans and Brazil nuts being the highest in both categories.
Each type of nut has a different makeup, offering lots of great benefits. They are an easily accessible source of healthy fats and other nutrients. Many health organizations recommend the regular consumption of nuts, and with all of these reasons, it's easy to see why:
Note the amount and variety of antioxidants and minerals found in the different types of nuts.
The humble nut has come a long way in the recent past. It was once severely underrated as a healthy snack, and people often thought the high amounts of fat were not healthy for the heart. Further studies need to be completed, but already it is plain that nuts play a positive role in reducing the risk of gallstones, maintaining bone health, reducing the risk of cancer, slowing the aging of the brain and reducing macular degeneration leading to blindness.
Children who get into the habit of eating yummy and protective snacks like nuts, fruits and vegetables will live longer and healthier lives. Setting them up for success is as simple as giving them the proper snacks to choose for optimal well-being. Nutty Snacks is committed to offering the most nutritious nut snacks available, with all-natural, easy-to-pronounce ingredients, and in combinations and flavors that both children and adults love.