Nuts are a great source of protein, fibre and healthy fats, however, there is often confusion about the type and amount of nuts that should be included in a diet and very little information of what nuts are best for men. Nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats (fats derived from plant foods).
There are two types of unsaturated fats; mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. Mono-unsaturated fatty acids or MUFA’s have been shown to decrease bad choloesterol levels (LDL) and increase or maintain your good cholesterol levels (HDL), so they are really important to include in the diet of men, especially those with family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. Food sources of MUFA’s include canola and olive oil, avocado, peanut butter and the best nuts are; macadamia, hazelnut, pecans and almonds.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) helps to lower cholesterol levels by decreasing both good and bad cholesterol. These fats also work to reduce the bloods tendency to clot and can reduce inflammation. Food sources of PUFA’s come from your seeds and their associated oils, for example sesame seeds and sesame oil. Fish particularly your tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel and soya beans. The best nuts are; walnut, pine, brazil and pecan.
Due to their high healthy fat content many people who are trying to lose weight or strip fat avoid nuts during this phase of their training program, however, the latest evidence shows that between 55-75% of the energy contributed by nuts is offset by dietary compensation, another 10-15% by faecal loss due to their high fibre content, and an additional estimate that up to another 10% via increased energy compensation (Nuts and healthy body weight maintenance mechanisms). This means for men who are trying to increase their protein intake between meals but monitor their body fat nuts are the perfect snack. Half a cup of raw nuts has been shown to result in no increase in your overall energy intake, however, you reap the rewards of the healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Nutting it out further, several nutrients found in nuts such as selenium in Brazil nuts and the high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in walnuts have been found to increase men’s sperm count. In America, men who consumed 75 grams of walnuts per day for three months increased their sperm count and its quality, therefore enhancing their chances of fathering a child.
It gets better, peanut butter contains the amino acid arginine and also contains the anti-inflammatory antioxidant resveratrol, so it can help muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness after intense exercise, as long as it is the natural peanut butter.
In summary, you should choose your nut based on what outcome you are after; heart health, sperm health, muscle growth, muscle recovery. However, the one thing in common is that all nuts add valuable nutrients to your diet so you should be including half a cup most days in your training diet.