Come festival season and we will almost always have in front of us a box full of dry fruits! For many, it brings back the nostalgia of the older days. It’s also one of the healthiest treats you can have right now- as long as in moderation.
Most dieticians and health experts advise people to have a handful of dry fruits, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. However, nuts and seeds can be a sneaky source of calories and fats. Even though dried fruits are derived from fresh fruits, they lose out on a lot of water content and have more concentrated calories. For example, almonds and cashews contain upto 160 calories per ounce. Internet’s favourite, chia seeds and sunflower seeds are also relatively high on the calorie count. So goes for macadamia nuts.
Considering the fact that they’re an easy snack, going overboard is always a risk. That’s why, serving sizes must be adhered to, religiously. But how many nuts does a single serving size make?
How much dried fruits and nuts are good for regular intake?
Having a handful of servings a day, or incorporating nuts, dry fruit and seeds into your salads and desserts is a good way to take in essential vitamins and minerals in your diet plan. The ideal serving size for dry fruits and nuts is about 30 gm, which fits into the palm of your hand. However, the right serving sample should have a variety of dry fruits, not just one type of dried fruit.
Susan Itty, Head of Department, Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics, Aster Medcity, Kochi believes that people must be super careful about overdoing dried fruits this Diwali. “It’s very easy to take in too many calories from nuts and seeds. Dry fruits are also high in sugar and calories and can cause problems when eaten in excess like gaining weight, gastric issues; a diabetic can increase his blood sugar. Salty nuts can increases the blood pressure, constipation or diarrhoea or flatulence.”
She also adds that the macronutrients found in nuts like almonds are best consumed in moderation.”Have almonds in small quantities (4-7 pieces) daily to get a whole entourage of health benefits. Some fruits are also higher in calories than others. Dry figs or anjeer are a big culprit. Having 2-3 in a day is ideal. Any more and you’ll be risking weight gain,” adds Susan.
Dr Deepika Rani, a Dietician with Apollo Telehealth also suggests that for fussy kids who don’t like eating dry fruits, the nuts can be powdered and mixed into milk and other proprietary foods.
Go easy on the sweet variants
Dates are an exceptionally well-scoring dried fruit with high traces of iron, potassium, nutrients and minerals. With the onset of winters, they can also provide your body warmth and even boost immunity. Many also like to have it with milk. However, one must ensure that they do not go overboard. You’ll get maximum nutrition if you have 1-2 medium-sized bites in a day.
Raisins, on the contrary, are one dried fruit which can be had 10-12 pieces in a go. Raisins are also associated with lowering your cravings and inducing satiety naturally, so they definitely make for a wholesome dry fruit you can relish during the festive season.
Dried coconut, which is quite often used to prepare Indian desserts has more fat content than the fresh version. Having a piece a day, or two tablespoons of grated coconut are the best way to have them.
Make your pick wisely
Dietician and clinical nutritionist, Lavleen Kaur believes that 4-5 nuts, as per your liking is the ideal intake for one time. For example, 10 almonds make for a good serving size. As for Omega-3 rich Walnuts, another winter favourite fruit, having one at a time is okay.
“Having a handful of peanuts and pistachios (6-7), 4-5 cashew nuts is a good way to moderate your diet. Consuming raw, unsalted or flavoured dried fruits and seeds is a way to maximise their nutrition.”
She also asserts the fact that for optimum nutrition, some nuts and seeds are better had soaked. Almonds are best consumed soaked overnight, while pistachios make for a good mid-day snack to binge on.
Dr Deepika also adds that rather than having a handful of them in one go, the recommended quantity be incorporated into everyday foods. Roasting certain nuts and seeds can also enhance their flavours and health benefits, she says. Roasting cashew nuts at 130-degree centigrade for 30 minutes may increase the availability of phenolic compounds and flavonoids, increasing its antioxidant power. Pumpkin seeds taste better when roasted too.”
And, if you would like to have a healthy dose of nutrients at home, consider making a trail mix of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. It’s one of the easiest ways to have a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in one go.