The Right Dry Fruits, Nuts, Seeds Proportions Matter For Health
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When it comes to our health, today, most people are aware that a balanced diet that provides our daily requirement of macronutrients and micronutrients is something everybody needs to stay healthy and in good shape. But quite often, people assume that if an ingredient is good for health then eating bucket-loads of it will also be automatically lead to quicker results in health improvement. This happens most often with nuts, seeds and dry fruits, which are credited as being extremely healthy and must-haves every day. 

More than any other food group or category of ingredients, dry fruits, nuts and seeds get this reputation of being very good for health because innumerable studies over the last few decades have shown the benefits one can get by eating almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots, figs, prunes and cranberries—among many other varieties available. And yet, the proportion in which we eat these matters just as much, if not more, for good health. After all, doesn’t that old saying say “too much of a good thing...”? 

So, should you be eating loads and loads of dry fruits, nuts and seeds for health, or should you regulate the amounts properly? Slurrp caught up with Nisha Singh, Clinical Nutritionist, Integrative Sports Dietitian, Founder of NutriWellness by Nisha Singh, to find out all the answers you need to know. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Hebbars Kitchen

Understanding Why Dry Fruits, Nuts & Seeds Matter 

“The nuts and seeds that we loosely refer to as dry fruits should definitely be included in your routine diet, if not on a daily basis then as often as possible,” Singh says. “Nuts and seeds are important for your daily routine because they are a powerhouse of nutrients, specifically micronutrients. These micronutrients matter because they work behind the curtain, silently, to ensure we are in optimal health. You might believe that having a few fruits and vegetables in a day will get you the daily requirement of micronutrients—and that may—but your dry fruits, nuts and seeds have much more concentrated and powerful sources of the same micronutrients. They are easy to eat, convenient and they definitely pack a punch despite their small sizes.” 

Singh says that most of her patients already know what kind of foods should be consumed in a daily balanced diet. “But when I get them to do blood reports, I often find that they have vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiencies,” she explains. “For female patients, there’s also an added load of calcium and iron deficiencies. When I introduce almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, the patients are able to include these very easily in their routines. If these additions are in the form of dry fruit laddoos or chikkis, it becomes even more attractive for them.”  

Overconsumption Is The Most Common Mistake 

Singh says that one of the most common mistakes people make with dry fruits, nuts and seeds is eating too much of it, that too in the wrong form. “People may think that simply because a fruit or a nut or something like buttermilk is healthy, they can consume unlimited amounts of these foods,” she explains. “You should know that that’s not how it works. Even water in excess is unhealthy for you because it can flush out nutrients and electrolytes. When it comes to nuts and seeds, they may be full of good fats, but fat, at the end of the day, is still fat and overconsumption is therefore bad.”  

Singh says that because dry fruits, nuts and seeds are small, it is very easy to unconsciously eat too much of it. However, it always results in negative results in the long run. “For people who have impaired gut health, overeating nuts can cause irritability and digestive issues,” Singh explains. “You have to find out which nuts and seeds are causing these triggers if you do have these symptoms. Nuts and seeds are heavy to digest, so they can cause bloating, flatulence and pain in the stomach if overconsumed. Since they are so small and easy to snack on, many a times we unconsciously go overboard in terms of daily consumption. You can also run the risk of going above your daily calorie intake limit.”  

And can overconsumption of nuts and seeds also cause unnecessary weight gain? Singh says, yes, but more than that, overconsumption shows a behavioural pattern that may be problematic for health. “As a Clinical Nutritionist, this overconsumption pattern gives me a glimpse into the mental makeup of the patient,” she explains. “According to them, they are going by the book by eating nuts and seeds after hearing from friends or reading online about the benefits. But to me, overconsumption of dry fruits, nuts and seeds highlights a bad eating pattern. It shows that they might have come across the right data but are unable to fine-tune it according to their own nutritional needs.” 

Preparing Dry Fruits, Nuts And Seeds The Right Way 

Another common mistake that people make, Singh says, is not knowing how to eat dry fruits, nuts and seeds the right way. “I used to hear patients say that just because they are snacking on roasted almonds or roasted cashews, they’d assume it is healthy,” she says. “Many coffee stores making these roasted nuts easily available doesn’t help either. But roasting nuts with salt, oil or fat takes away from the quality of micronutrients in these nuts.” So what, according to Singh, is the best way to eat these nutrient-dense goodies?  

“The best way to consume nuts and seeds is to soak them overnight,” she says. “The next day, especially for almonds, peel it and then eat it. Even dry fruits like raisins, figs and prunes should be soaked and then consumed. This rehydration process is important because it makes them more easily digestible in the body, the antinutrients in certain nuts like almonds get leeched out. The portion size should be customized according to the height, age, weight, etc of the patient. For women, I’d say raisins are very important not only for hormonal health but in general for iron and bowel movements.” 

If you are looking for the right quantities and proportions of dry fruits, nuts and seeds to eat, then these are Singh’s recommendations.  

For Toddlers & Kids: 1-2 raisins, 1 almond, ¼ walnut, 1 pistachio, 1 cashew nut all soaked. This is for mornings, and in the evenings you can give them a soaked prune, fig or apricot. 

For Teenagers: 8-10 soaked raisins (especially for girls), 2-4 almonds, 1 walnut, 1-2 cashews. For boys, 4-6 almonds, 1 walnut, 2-4 cashews. 1 level tablespoon of seed mix (white sesame, pumpkin, flax, chia) is a must for all. 

For Adults: 1 level tablespoon of seed mix (white sesame, pumpkin, flax, chia) should be consumed. For women, 4 almonds, 1 walnut, 2-3 cashews is enough. For men, 6 almonds, 1 walnut, 3-4 cashew nuts is good. 

For The Elderly: Reduce the quantity of everything except the seeds.