Some tips on nuts from the American Arthritis Foundation
Some nuts are rich in magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E, which may play a role in keeping inflammation under control. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in these nutrients tend to have lower levels of some inflammation-causing molecules that circulate in the bloodstream and higher levels of the anti-inflammatory protein adiponectin compared with those who consumed less.
Ideally, you should reach for raw, unsalted nuts, “However, if a little seasoning is going to help you swap nuts for buttery crackers, potato chips or other less healthy treats, it’s fine to grab some lightly salted nuts – unless you’re on a low sodium diet.” They caution that all nuts and seeds are high in calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. One serving a day (about an ounce of nuts or 1 to 2 tablespoons of seeds) is all you need.
With their high ALA content, walnuts head the nut pack in omega-3 content, and researchers studying their effects have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis. Eating walnuts regularly can lower cholesterol, relax blood vessels to lessen stress on the heart, and reduce blood pressure.
Tips: Walnuts have a hefty texture that makes them a good centrepiece in meatless dishes. They can be pricey so Moore likes to combine them with other healthy foods. Try a simple stir-fry of broccoli, walnuts and chopped garlic with a few squeezes of lemon juice.
Technically a legume, peanuts are the “nut” with the most protein (about 7 grams per 1-ounce serving). “They’re also cheaper than most nuts, so for people with arthritis trying to manage their weight, for example, they make a filling, inexpensive snack,”. Peanuts are also a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and research shows adding them to your diet can help lower “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. Peanuts deliver about 12% of your daily magnesium requirement and may help keep blood sugar under control.
Tips: Use peanut butter in a creamy sauce for vegetables, pasta or chicken. Blend 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter, 1/3 cup of water or broth, 2 tablespoons each fresh lime juice and soy sauce and a dash of cayenne to taste. Look for peanut butter that lists only one or two ingredients: peanuts or peanuts and salt.
Because almonds contain more fibre than most nuts, they’re a good choice for weight management. “You’ll be more satisfied for longer, and you also get some cholesterol-reducing benefits from the healthy fats. They are also a good source of antioxidant vitamin E,”. Research suggests the monounsaturated fats from an almond-rich diet lower some markers of inflammation, including CRP.
Tips: Mix slivered almonds into rice and vegetable dishes to add crunch and subtle flavour. “Almonds also make a great snack – try pairing with apples and fresh cherries for a great complementary taste,” she says.
Snack on pistachios to help with weight loss. “Dealing with the shell slows down consumption, which is good for people with arthritis trying to lose a few pounds to take pressure off joints. Pistachios can also help lower LDL cholesterol and are high in potassium and antioxidants, including vitamins A and E and lutein – a compound also found in dark, leafy vegetables.
Tips: Sprinkle pistachios over Greek yoghurt drizzled with honey for a high-protein, high-fibre snack or breakfast. Crushed pistachios also make a flavorful, crunchy coating for fish or chicken.
Flaxseed is one of the richest plant-based sources of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Studies show it may help lower overall and LDL cholesterol and reduce the complications of diabetes and heart disease risk. Crushing or milling the flaxseed make it easier for your body to digest and use the ALA, so choose these varieties over whole seeds.
Tips: Stir into yoghurt along with some fruit or sprinkle onto cereal or salads.
Chia seeds are also an excellent source of anti-inflammatory ALA, but their biggest benefit is probably their high fibre content (about 10 grams per serving). “The fibre fills people up, which can help control weight.
Tips: Chia seeds absorb liquid easily and take on a jelly-like consistency. Moore takes advantage of this by blending chia seeds with almond or coconut milk, fruit and vanilla extract then chilling the mixture in the refrigerator to create a chia pudding.