In infant feeding, it is recommended not to use nuts and seeds until the child has control of the chewing process, a variable age depending on each child, due to the risk of choking that can be linked to their consumption.
However, once this stage is over and when the child is able to chew and swallow nuts, they become a perfect ally, especially for breakfast and snacks.
Nuts and seeds are healthy nutrient-dense foods, and also an energy source to be reckoned with. In addition to having a multitude of vitamins, mainly fat-soluble A, D, E and K, and minerals, such as selenium, magnesium, copper or zinc, its lipid profile is full of mono and polyunsaturated fats, the most favorable for cardiovascular health. This type of fats also provide extra benefits, such as regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increasing what is known as good cholesterol. On the other hand, they also contain phytonutrients, mostly antioxidants, which are beneficial for cellular health. The consumption of nuts is also related to a lower risk of diabetes and even some types of cancer.
At breakfast: Sometimes, getting an adequate energy intake at breakfast for children can be a difficult challenge to achieve, given the limited time available to both parents and children. A handful of walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds to breakfast cereals can help to achieve that contribution without increasing the time of preparation or the ingestion of breakfast.
After doing physical exercise: Similarly, before doing physical exercise or extracurricular activities, nuts can be a very healthy source of energy, quick and easy to eat, leaving aside the sodas and energy drinks or potato chips.
At snack: Nuts and seeds are a very useful snack that requires little preparation and is easy to transport, and which, at the same time, is much healthier than a cereal bar or any piece of industrial pastries.
However, not all nuts are equally beneficial. Peanuts, the most consumed dried fruit worldwide, have more characteristics in common with legumes than with the nuts themselves, and is, of all, the least recommended. The healthiest nuts, taking into account the relationship between micronutrients and caloric content, are chestnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, followed by pistachios and walnuts. Among the seeds, sunflower seeds contain the most varied combination of vitamins and minerals, closely followed by pumpkin seeds, and both are an important source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
It should be added that the least processed in this type of food ensures the highest number of nutrients, with raw nuts and seeds being the most beneficial. They can always be toasted at home, either in the toaster or in the oven, avoiding all the additives that commercial products have added.
As always, in balance is virtue, and, although a handful of nuts or seeds a day can promote the health of both children and adults, abusing them can affect caloric intake due to their high fat content. A high consumption of fats, even if they are healthy, can tip the balance towards the undesirable obesity.
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