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BENEFITS OF WALNUTS
Walnuts are the fruit of the walnut tree, which is native to the Middle East but also widespread in our peninsula. The walnut is typically autumnal, has a high energy value and many nutritional characteristics. It is rich in polyunsaturated acids, which are excellent for the human organism, and its leaves are considered a noteworthy aromatic ingredient, often used in cooking, e.g. for maturing certain types of cheese. Walnuts also contain protein and simple carbohydrates. They are also rich in fibre and minerals abound: calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Among the vitamins, the most important is undoubtedly thiamine.
VALORI NUTRIZIONALI Walnuts are a very important food for our health, a veritable mine of beneficial properties. Included daily in the diet, they are able to keep cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk under control; they also seem to limit the occurrence of certain cancers and help to keep blood pressure low; hence, they are characterised as an important natural remedy in case of hypertension. The important thing is not to exaggerate with the quantities: this is quite a calorific food, with as many as 650 calories in 100 grams. Just 3 nuts a day, which can also be enjoyed with salads or at breakfast with yoghurt, is enough to cover our daily requirement of essential nutrients for health.
PROPERTIES AND BENEFITS OF WALNUTS
- Walnuts also contain a high amount of good fats, especially Omega 3and Omega 6, essential fatty acids that are indispensable for a healthy cardiovascular system. These good fats prevent the formation of blood clots and greatly improve circulation. The heart also benefits, thanks to the presence of arginine in the nuts, which is excellent for those suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
- Furthermore, walnuts are an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin E, B1, B2, folic acid and fibre and contain a high amount of antioxidants that keep free radicals in check. The consumption of walnuts has been shown to reduce vulnerability to the stress that occurs during ageing. So, anyone who wants to keep not only their skin but also their brain young need only eat a handful of walnuts a day to ward off the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
- Those with type 2 diabetes can include walnuts in their diet, as these, with their healthy fats, regulate metabolic parameters and reduce fasting insulin levels.
- Walnuts contain melatonin, so they are also good for those who want to sleep well through the night.
- Walnuts are a high-energy food, which is also perfect for pregnant women (unless you are allergic): the polyunsaturated fats promote the proper development of the nervous system and certain parts of the eyes of the foetus.
- Walnuts are also good for the skin and hair. In particular, walnuts extract an oil with moisturising and nourishing properties. Walnut oil is rich in unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, which have antibacterial, antioxidant and antiviral properties. This oil is used as a pre-shampoo pack to make the hair stronger and shinier. It also combats dermatitis and dandruff. Walnut oil is rich in vitamin C and therefore highly recommended for facial and body skin, especially when the skin is oily and cannot tolerate other types of oils. It also promotes a tan by stimulating the production of melanin, which protects against the sun's negative rays. You can add walnut oil to your day cream or to an aloe vera cream.
WALNUTS AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Eating nuts helps lower high blood pressure and especially helps those who suffer from cardiovascular disease by improving heart health. Of course, this happens when the diet is low in fat and particularly healthy. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania came to this conclusion. Walnuts, in fact, are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which has enormous benefits on blood pressure. The study conducted by the US university wanted to show whether a diet containing this 'ALA' could improve heart conditions and whether polyphenols, another component of walnuts, could regulate blood pressure, which it did.
WALNUTS AND CHOLESTEROL
Walnuts are cholesterol-free, so they can be safely consumed by those who need to keep high cholesterol at bay. Consuming 40 to 60 g of walnuts per day lowers LDL bad cholesterol and maintains HDL good cholesterol levels. Walnuts are rich in unsaturated fats, polyphenols, polyunsaturated fats and in some cases, in addition to lowering bad cholesterol, they are also able to raise levels of good cholesterol, thanks to the action of oleic acid. The important thing is not to associate them with fatty or high-calorie foods, because nuts are calorific and promote weight gain.
Almonds are among the most popular and appreciated dried fruits and oilseeds.
This is the seed of the almond tree, a plant belonging to the Rosaceae family like the peach tree, which we recognise by its beautiful white or pinkish flowers that appear in spring.
Cultivation is widespread throughout the Mediterranean, but also in Canada, where the fruit is mainly used in the confectionery industry, but the wood and other parts of some almond varieties are also used to make soaps.
There are some typical products in Italy, such as the Toritto almond in Apulia, the Navelli almonds from Abruzzo, the arrubbia, cossa, ollu and schina de porcu almonds from Sardinia, or the Avola almonds from Sicily.
However, the secret of this food is not only in its taste, but also has to do with its excellent nutritional values.
So let's see what the properties of almonds and their beneficial effects are.
Properties of almonds: a complete foodstuff
We know that scientific research and experts recommend a daily intake of nuts (about 30 grams) to ward off numerous diseases, protect the body and keep it fit. Compared to walnuts, also a mine of properties, almonds are less fatty, but equally rich in excellent substances.
Almonds are considered a complete food as they contain:
- B vitamins
- E vitamins
- Omega-3 fatty acids
These components are responsible for the properties of almonds, making it a food that is not only good, but also healthy, since it has:
- antioxidant properties (contained mainly in the dark peel, so it is best to consume them unpeeled), thanks to vitamin E and unsaturated acids, which protect against oxidative stress, responsible for cellular ageing that contributes to diseases such as cancer
- laxative and beneficial properties for the intestine due to the presence of fibre
- beneficial properties for the nervous system, thanks to magnesium, which helps in cases of stress and fatigue
- anti-inflammatory properties, due to the 'good' omega-3 fatty acid
- useful properties for bone well-being due to high calcium content
- anti-cholesterol properties and promote a healthy heart and circulation by keeping triglycerides low, thanks to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids.
To sum up, the properties of almonds are excellent in fighting free radicals, protecting the body and keeping it away from diseases such as cancer, diabetes or cardio-vascular disorders. Of course, this is only possible if you eat nuts on a regular basis.
The word honey seems to derive from the Hittite word melit, a neutral form to which the Latin word mel is related, from which the figurative use of the word melle is also borrowed.
Many believe that sugar and honey are equally nutritious. Yet the latter has many virtues that sugar lacks. Peter Molan, professor of biochemistry and director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, has been studying the beneficial virtues of honey for over 15 years.
In one of his laboratory experiments, Dr Molan sprinkled honey on seven types of bacteria usually responsible for wound infections.
All seven types of bacteria were neutralised by the precious bee product.
In France even, the scientist Bernard Descottes, head of the Department of Internal Surgery and Transplantation at the Limoges Hospital, started using honey to treat certain scarring problems and wounds as early as 1984, with extremely positive results. which led to Descottes formulating a veritable 'honey-based therapy', which he called 'apitherapy'.
Properties and benefits of honey
One of the most important functions of honey is its antibacterial and antibiotic function: many types of honey contain significant amounts of hydrogen peroxide, i.e. hydrogen peroxide, the same as is usually used to disinfect wounds. The high temperatures to which honey is subjected during pasteurisation neutralise certain beneficial substances: for maximum bactericidal effect, raw, untreated honey is ideal.
In addition to stopping superficial infections, honey alleviates the symptoms of stomach ulcers and is used to treat diarrhoea, which, especially in children, can be dangerous because it causes dehydration. Honey is also effective against constipation as it contains large amounts of fructose, a sugar that can reach the large intestine without being digested. Fructose also confers a special sweetening power and a prolonged energy effect because, while glucose is burnt immediately, fructose has emollient properties thanks to which it remains 'available' to the body for longer.
The calories contained in honey are 304 kcal per 100g of product
Depending on the type of honey, the therapeutic properties also change: acacia honey has a positive effect on the digestive system, forest honey is indicated in cases of flu, orange honey has healing properties, sunflower honey is antineural, febrifuge and recommended against cholesterol. Also, heather honey has an anti-rheumatic, anti-anaemic action, linden honey soothes menstrual pains, is calming, diuretic and digestive, while mixed-flower honey has a detoxifying action on the liver.
An ally of the heart and brain, cocoa is a food rich in protein, vitamin B and serotonin, with antioxidant and anti-depressant properties.
Properties and benefits of cocoa Cocoa contains proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, various minerals and B vitamins. It also contains serotonin, tyramine, caffeine, theobromine and phenylethylamine.
The antioxidants in cocoa help fight the action of free radicals, while theobromine and caffeine help maintain concentration.
Serotonin and tyramine are useful against depression and anxiety disorders.
To fully benefit from the properties of cocoa, it is necessary to consume bitter cocoa, as an ingredient in various recipes, or good quality dark chocolate.
Cocoa is very energetic, so it is best not to overdo it. Its characteristics make it a food particularly recommended for athletes and adolescents. It should not, however, be offered to children from zero to three years of age because of the risk of allergies; for the same reason, it is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
The caffeine in cocoa may increase nervousness and insomnia in predisposed persons. Cupuaçu, on the other hand, a close relative of cacao, contains theacrine but not caffeine and theobromine.
Curiosities about cocoa
The Mayas and Aztecs believed that cocoa was the food of the gods and therefore offered it to the deities. When Christopher Columbus arrived in America, he was very impressed by the value that the natives placed on this product and it was mainly for this reason that he decided to bring it with him to Europe. The Mayas themselves believed that cocoa had the power to release hidden desires and reveal destiny.
The sultana is a variety of grape also known as 'sultana' or 'sultana'.
This particular grape is obtained by drying the grapes of a variety originating in Turkish, Iranian or Greek lands.
This grape variety has small, elliptical, golden yellow berries with an exquisitely sweet flavour. When dried, it takes on amber hues and the flesh remains firm with a thin, easy-to-chew skin.
Its name sultana is linked to the name of the city of Sultania on the Crimean peninsula where in ancient times it was very traditional to cultivate and use as an ingredient in cooking.
Properties of sultanas
Sultanas contain 70 per cent carbohydrates and carbohydrates, 2 per cent protein and 5 per cent fibre. It is also rich in minerals, especially potassium, iron and calcium.
The presence of fibre helps intestinal transit and resolves constipation problems. In fact, fibre in the presence of water hydrates and increases the faecal mass, which, aided by intestinal motility, implements an easy and faster expulsion without any problem and in a more regular manner.
The presence of a good potassium content allows sultanas to be a good supplement of this element. In fact, potassium has useful abilities in regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission processes.
In addition, potassium is needed for protein synthesis and for converting sugars into glycogen. This mineral is therefore indispensable for the health of many of our body's functions.
The presence of iron and calcium is also important, especially since these two minerals are among the greatest risk of deficiency in unbalanced diets.
Iron is necessary for the transport of oxygen by red blood cells in our blood and also for fixing it within our muscles. In addition, iron is indispensable for the proper functioning of numerous enzymes and proteins in our bodies.
Calcium, on the other hand, is needed for muscle contraction, for the structure of bones, teeth and nails, for proper blood clotting and for the communication of neurons in the nervous system.
Lastly, in sultanas, we find a good presence of active ingredients such as arginine, which helps the natural dilation of blood vessels and is therefore a protector of the cardiovascular system, and other active ingredients such as phenols, which have an antioxidant action and are therefore able to combat the free radicals responsible for cellular ageing.
Thus, sultanas have a preventive and anti-cancer activity as well as aiding in the proper metabolisation of carbohydrates and giving a cholesterol-lowering action.
These polyphenolic substances even have an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action, thus supporting the immune system and the body's wellbeing.
This antibacterial action in the mouth combined with the presence of oleanolic acid provides protection from bacteria and the formation of dental caries. In conclusion, a small suggestion would therefore be to use sultanas instead of sugar-rich candies to safeguard the health of our mouths.
Dark chocolate, i.e. chocolate containing at least 45% cocoa paste, can prevent a number of ailments: from hypertension to depression, from cardiovascular diseases to insomnia. Moreover, dark chocolate is able to protect the body against so-called cardiometabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and narrowing of the arteries, which can cause heart attacks.
Dark chocolate is more valuable than milk and white chocolate and is also the least calorific. Clearly, calories depend on the brand and composition of the chocolate. As an indication, the following table (per 100 g of product) is valid:
Dark chocolate 502Kcal
Thanks to the substances contained in cocoa, dark chocolate has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, heart, arteries and mood; it also has aphrodisiac and stimulating properties and contains antioxidants that reduce the effects of oxidative stress.
Dark chocolate contains tryptophen, a substance that stimulates the production of serotonin, also known as the mood and happiness hormone. The presence of this substance, together with that of anandamide, makes dark chocolate an excellent anti-depressant. This feel-good effect, although transitory, can also help improve sleep, if one does not exceed the quantities. Cocoa also contains a small amount of caffeine, which can cause excitement and euphoria.
The percentage of cocoa present in dark chocolate (at least 45%) ensures an important presence of cocoa flavonoids in this food. Flavonoids help reduce blood sugar levels and increase good cholesterol.
This is why dark chocolate, even better if extra dark chocolate, can help prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking cocoa flavonoids can reduce dyslipidaemia and increased triglycerides, and the substances in dark chocolate help fight insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, the main risk factors for subclinical cardiometabolic diseases.