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Common Myths About Nuts and Dried Fruits

    Nuts and dried fruits have been in our diets for a long time and, in recent years their health benefits and the importance of adding them into our daily lives is getting more widely known. But even so, nuts and dried fruits have still been suffering some myths related with their health benefits or nutrient content - some of them true and some of them false. In this article we are going to uncover the truths and debunk the myths about nuts and dried fruits.

    Myth 1: Nut Consumption Leads to Weight Gain

    The belief that dried nuts are a fattening food has been commonly accepted for decades and therefore, it has long been assumed that nut intake leads to a weight gain. It is true that nuts are energy-dense foods and also high in fat, but they are especially high in unsaturated fats, also known as healthy fats. Research evidence showed us that when compared to a nut-free diet, the presence of nuts in a diet leads to a more moderate weight increase. The results revealed that those participants who had consumed more nuts (more than one serving per week), incorporated to a standard diet, did gain weight, but less than those who hadn’t. Another study concluded that incorporating nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern by replacing less healthful foods may help mitigate the gradual weight gain common during adulthood, and beneficially contribute to the prevention of obesity.

    Moreover, incorporating almonds into your diet, for example as a mid-morning snack may help reduce overall hunger, so they also may be effective for appetite control. And, a daily intake of 44 g of pistachios over 12 weeks may help improve nutrient intake without affecting body weight.

    Myth 2: Walnuts May Help Improve Brain Health

    The Greeks called the walnut “karyon” (head), because it looks like a myths about nutshuman brain. For this same reason, for centuries the Chinese have believed that walnut kernel are good for the brain. This fact is, is that this fact is not false at all. Recent research suggests that walnut consumption may help improve cognitive function (brain health) and may also reduce the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, depression and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for the development of dementia. Now there a reason to add walnuts to your diet.

    Myth 3: The Sugar Content of Dried Fruits Promotes Dental Cavities?

    Traditional dried fruit is simply fresh fruit with water removed. They contain naturally occurring sugars (not added sugars), with fructose and glucose being the most common. Due to their stickiness and natural sugar content, it has been thought that dried fruits could cause tooth decay. This is the case of an urban myth according to Jennette Higgs, Registered Public Health Nutritionist & Dietitian, and principal consultant for Food to Fit. Scientific evidence suggests the contrary. For example, bioactive compounds found in raisins appear to have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

    Advice on dried fruit consumption should also take into account their nutritional benefits, being a source of fiber, low in fat and containing useful levels of micronutrients.

    Myth 4: Soaked Import Nuts Better for You

    soaking nuts mythRecommendations to soak nuts prior to consumption to reduce phytate concentrations and improve gastrointestinal tolerance have received much attention in the popular press. Phytates or phytic acid is a substance found in plants that when eaten by humans, can reduce absorption of nutrients (specially minerals) from the diet. For that reason, soaking nuts before eating them has been so popular in recent years. This is despite no supporting scientific evidence for the practice.

    However, a 2018 study, primarily assessed the effects of soaking almonds on consumer acceptance and secondly assessed effects on gastrointestinal tolerance. Results observed that nuts were well tolerated gastrointestinally, but soaking does not improve gastrointestinal tolerance or acceptance as claimed in the lay literature. With regards their phytate content, soaking resulted in lower mineral concentrations, especially for chopped nuts. But this research does not support claims that 'activating' or soaking nuts results in greater nutrient bioavailability/absorption.

    Myth 5: Raw vs. Roasted Nuts

    Many people wonder whether raw nuts are healthier than roasted, like pumpkin kernel. It is a common myth that some people think that with the roasting process the nutritional properties in nuts, specially vitamins and minerals, could decrease. The fact is that nuts are generally roasted to improve their taste, aroma and crunchy texture.

    To prove the point, Raw vs. Roasted Nutsscientific studies observed that nuts roasted at suitable temperature and time demonstrated excellent antioxidant activities therefore showing that, when done correctly, roasting does not affect nutritional properties in nuts.

    Sunflower seeds: Nutritional and health benefits

    Sunflower seeds kernel are popular health foods that people commonly consume in trail mix, breakfast cereals, or straight from the bag as a snack. They contain beneficial nutrients, including healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidant compounds.

    Health benefits

    Including sunflower seeds in the diet can offer health benefits. The following sections discuss these potential benefits in more detail.

    Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial

    ResearchTrusted Source suggests sunflower seeds are:

    anti-inflammatory

    antifungal

    antibacterial

    wound healing

    The beneficial effects are due to compounds such as phenols, tannins, and saponins.

    People with diabetes can produce advanced glycation end products that can cause damage to the body. Sunflower seeds contain compounds that can inhibit these substances.

    Cynarin in sunflower seeds kernel can lower triglycerides and cholesterol, an effect that may potentially benefit people with hyperglycemia or hyperlipidemia.

    A small pilot studyTrusted Source of 50 adults with obesity found that sunflower seed extract reduced blood cholesterol and benefited body weight and fat mass.

    However, as participants took a concentrated extract, this may not yield the same effects as consuming sunflower seeds. Additionally, researchers instructed participants to consume 500 fewer calories than their usual diet, which would also result in weight loss.

    Healthy skin and bones

    Sunflower seeds, with spices added, contain omega-6 fatty acids, which people require for healthy skin.

    Research indicates that essential fatty acid deficiency significantly affects skin function and appearance. With this in mind, including sources of essential fatty acids in the diet may help prevent skin conditions, such as dermatitis, and reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

    Sunflower seeds also contain zinc, an essentialTrusted Source mineral for skin health, and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous for healthy bones.