By Phoebe Liebling
BSc(Hons) DipNT mBANT mNNA CNHC registered GNC registered.
“Bonjour Mademoiselle, tu voudrais une noisette?”
Goodness, the French have a way of making everything sound rather poetic and delicate don’t they.
For those not au fait with the French language this literally means “Hello Miss, would you like a hazelnut”.
Like I said the French just do it better!
Leaving linguistics behind us now, let’s talk about these less than diminutive dynamos of the dietary world, because hazelnuts are anything but delicate when it comes to the health benefits they boast!
I would hope by this point in proceedings most people will have come round to the idea that we need to be consuming great quality fats as part of a healthful diet, if you aren’t quite there yet then please do read on.
Not only are our hormones made from fats, they also comprise the majority of our nervous system and brains, feed into our energy metabolism, make up our cell membranes and nourish our hair, skin and nails. The types of fats we get are subdivided and named based on their chemical structure, the unsaturated group being the ones we want to have as the major players on our plates.
And guess what...hazelnuts come more than brimming with these babies.
The unsaturated notation describes the fluidity of those fats, which means when we get them into the body that flexibility is transferred into the structures they are incorporated into. This is when we get to start talking about how wonderful hazelnuts are for our hearts, in fact regular consumption has been shown to lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and reduce overall cardiovascular disease risk, in addition to improving insulin sensitivity (decreased sensitivity to insulin is the cause of Type II diabetes).
Higher monounsaturated fat consumption is also linked to greater feelings of satiety (how satisfied you are after eating), which is then associated with more consistent long term weight management when compared to a diet lower in these foods.
Leading perfectly on from the above, we have the next layer of loveliness from these little nuts; their influence on inflammation and oxidative stress within our bodies. All health concerns, literally from aching joints to fatigue, cancer to neurodegeneration, and even the biological process that is ageing, all come down to the progressive damage of our body by inflammatory mechanisms/substances. So anything we can add in that will cut this process off at the knees will be of huge use to our long term health and well-being.
The specific superstar to highlight here is Vitamin E which, as a fat soluble antioxidant, is amazing at preserving the integrity of other fatty structures in the body.
Want lovely, supple, youthful looking skin? Want cells that communicate effectively with each other? Want to be able to make use of your Vitamin C intake as much as you can? (E recycles C in a loop) And even potentially be guarding against certain cancers?
Well then a few extra E rich hazelnuts are you chaps!
Feeling a little sluggish around the edges is something many people experience on a relatively regular basis, this can be down to a number of things but a fundamental element we can remedy through our diet is to make sure we have enough of the raw materials that our body needs to be energetic. And these are things like your B vitamins, especially folate (B9), magnesium, manganese and iron which all directly feed into our cells/bloodstream to keep those fires burning.
It’s not just here that you’ll be using those nutrients however, the other side of our metabolism is the removal of waste which the above will also be fully involved in as they support your liver function, plus the hefty amount of fibre in hazelnuts ensures effective digestive transit which is obviously crucial to make sure those cellular waste products don’t end up hanging around in our intestines to be reabsorbed.
Even though we have touched on some of the minerals in the section above I couldn’t sign off without a nod to how brilliant our hazelnutty buddies are for our bones and muscles.
Those on dairy free diets will often be concerned about their calcium intake. Well for the uncountable time I shall confirm that this shouldn’t be the case, especially if you’re including a variety of plant based foods like nuts. Pair this with magnesium (and Vitamin D) and you’ll be delivering that calcium directly to where it needs to be. Plus when we talk about muscles contracting and relaxing that’s another perfect example of how these 2 minerals work together → calcium contracts and magnesium then relaxes afterwards.
We also then have the trace minerals. Firstly phosphorus which is integral for bone structure and our lovely pearly whites (teeth), quickly followed by a rather epic quantity of manganese which I will forever remember to not only be important for those metabolic functions I mention above but also for the prevention of creaky knees.
I guess maybe that small rhyme is my anatomical version of the lyricism of the French….hmmm you’re right, I think I should probably stick to the day job, but to conclude; hurray for hazelnuts!