A Nut fruit is defined as any hard-walled, edible kernel. Examples of nuts are hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, peanuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, aldernut, hornbeam nut, almonds, walnuts, candlenut (used for oil), pine nut, etc.
Roasted as a snack
Pressed for oil that is used in cooking and used in cosmetics
A source of nutrition for wildlife (squirrels)
One of the oldest findings of nutrition research over the past decade is that walnuts, almonds, and other nuts are good for our hearts. A handful of nuts a day might prevent a heart attack or sudden death due to an erratic heart rhythm.
The fats in nuts are unsaturated, and monosaturated, and therefore are beneficial to the heart reducing the risk of stroke. Nuts contain essential fatty acids, which are credited with many health benefits.
Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E and B2 (riboflavin, and antioxidant), they are rich in protein, folate, fibre, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Raw or unroasted walnuts are considered the healthiest, with twice as much antioxidant as other nuts.
Consumption of various nuts such as walnuts and almonds can lower serum LDL cholesterol concentrations. A study carried out in 2005 shows that small quantities of nuts protect against subsequent cardiovascular risk. There is speculation that the cholesterol lowering effect associated with nut consumption arises primarily from the fatty acid composition of nuts.
Nuts contain omega 3 acids, and dieticians recommend nuts to be included in diets prescribed for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.
BUT, NUT ALLERGIES
Nuts have got great uses and benefits, however, allergies are most common with peanuts and tree nuts. The protein in peanuts are similar in structure to those in tree nuts, therefore a person who is allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios and pecans.
Allergic reactions happen when a person’s immune system thinks that something harmless such as peanut is harmful. The immune system then responds by creating specific antibodies to protein in that food. These antibodies are called immunoglobulin E (IgE), and they fight off the invading protein.
IgE antibodies trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body. One of these chemicals is called HISTAMINE. This can affect a person’s respiratory system, gastro intestinal tract, skin and cardiovascular system causing allergy symptoms like wheezing, stomach-ache, vomiting, itching, hives and swelling.
Some reactions can be very severe and involve more than one body part, while others can be mild involving one body system. Tree nuts and peanuts can cause a severe condition called anaphylaxis where the person’s airway swells and blood pressure drops.
ALLERGIC REACTIONS AFFECTS THESE FOUR BODY SYSTEMS
1. SKIN- Symptoms are itching, red and bumpy rashes (hives), eczema and redness /swelling around the mouth or face.
2. GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM- Symptoms are belly cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
3. RESPIRATORY SYSTEM- Symptoms are runny/stuffy nose, itchy/watery eyes, sneezing triggering asthma, coughing and wheezing.
4. CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM- Symptoms are light-headedness and faintness.
1, The first and most important solution is to avoid peanuts. Do not eat peanuts, tree nuts and foods that might contain them (If you are allergic to them).
2, Keep rescue medications such as epinephrine ready and accessible all
the time (make sure they are not locked away, but in your pocket or bag).
3, Tell everyone who takes care of you and handle your food that you are allergic to nuts.
4, Make sure your school knows about your allergy and has an action plan in place for you.
In conclusion, nuts have got great everyday uses and fantastic benefits to improve our health, but if you are allergic to nuts, please avoid them totally.
Researched and Written by Elizabeth SamCoffie
1. Hamant P, Sharma MD, January 2008, Nuts and Peanuts Allergy- http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/food-fitness/nutrition/nut-allergy.html
2. The Effects of Nuts and Seeds. Http://www.anti-aging-guide.com/41nuts.php
3. Chisholm A, Mc Auley K, Mann J, Williams S, Skeaff M, ‘Cholesterol lowering effects of nuts compared with a Canola oil enriched cereal of similar fat composition’, 2005 Aug;15(4):284-92. Http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16054553