Nuts: the perfect run fuel?
In addition to being a great source of healthy fats and protein, many nuts are also jam-packed full of magnesium, protein and potassium, carrying with them great antioxidant benefits. Acting as a great aid in post-run recovery, nuts clearly have a place as an essential health food for runners. Here’s a few you can incorporate into your diet.
Great for bone strength through their high levels of calcium, magnesium and potassium, almonds are also a great source of protein. A single handful of the bad boys can give you 13 per cent of your daily recommended amount and as a result, act as the perfect post-workout, recovery food – helping to rebuild the protein that has been broken down during exercise.
Also an excellent source of Vitamin E and fibre, and as a result - almonds have high antioxidant value. Almonds also play a role in keeping blood sugar levels down when eaten with food that is high in sugar.
Brazil nuts are a good natural source of selenium which is used by your body to create crucial antioxidant enzyme compounds called selenoproteins. Research has shown that selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage caused by exposure to toxins and other harmful substances.
Also showing that selenium offsets free radical cell damage caused during endurance exercise, the high-protein content of the nuts mean they are a great post-workout snack.
Eating Brazil nuts as part of a balanced diet can also help you control your cholesterol level, with researchers from Brazil finding that eating three to five Brazil nuts per day reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol—known as 'bad' cholesterol—in young obese people. Brazil nuts contain calcium, which is essential for building strong bones and teeth. They also contain magnesium, another mineral your body needs for bone health.
Containing high-levels of magnesium, cashew nuts are also incredibly low in fat. Rich in immune boosting zinc, copper and magnesium, the nuts are also said to help protect against rising blood pressure, muscle soreness and muscle tiredness.
Due to their low fat content, they are ideal for snacking; keeping you full without the high-calorie guilt. While there are a number of benefits linked with nuts when it comes to cardio-vascular health, they are sometimes avoided due to a fear of putting on weight. However, cashews are in fact known for their ability to reduce the likelihood of weight-gain.
Research has been carried out to show those who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.
A great source of fibre and antioxidants, pistachios are also incredibly low calorie – coming in at a tiny 3 calories per nut! Like some other nuts, pistachios also promote management of cholesterol levels in the body, reducing LDLs or ‘bad cholesterol’.
When it comes to running, high-protein levels in pistachios make them the ideal endurance food and therefore make themselves a good partner for long distance running, both as a pre and post-run snack.
Studies have shown that eating foods high in protein after a long run or hard workout will help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness – aiding quicker recovery. Keeping you fuller for longer, their high fibre content also promotes digestive health and they also contain lutein, an antioxidant typically found in dark leafy vegetables.
Containing important amino acids such as arginine which offer multiple vascular benefits and are thought to lower the risk of heart disease, walnuts are thought to be an excellent food for maintenance of a healthy heart. Research has shown that eating just one ounce of walnuts a day may decrease cardiovascular risk.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acid ALA, the high ALA content in walnuts has been suggested to decrease inflammation that can damage arteries and may even help reduce the breakdown of bone.
Additionally, studies have shown walnuts to be great for weight loss. Adding healthful amounts of nuts such as walnuts to your diet can help you to maintain your ideal weight over time.
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