Lipid nuts: what’s that?

Lipid nuts: what’s that?

When it comes to nuts, confusion may arise.

Sometimes such definition can be used to identify both categories: both oil seeds belonging to some plants, such as walnuts and hazelnuts, and fresh fruit to which the watery part was removed, like pitted prunes, apricots and sultana.

Actually, when using the term “nuts” reference should be made only to such fruit that is contained in a woody shell, i.e. walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc. that belong to this category. Peanuts are an exception because, despite belonging to the Leguminosae family, they have different nutritional and “structural” features that can be compared to other varieties of shelled nuts and that are thus generally in a relation with this category. Fresh fruit from which water was removed is usually called dried fruit.

Nuts can be also defined as lipid nuts: the term “lipid” (from the Greek λίπος, lìpos, «fat») refers to the high content of fats present in their natural composition.

Such high fat content is also one of the main reasons why nuts are considered to be a high energy-density food: just think that carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 kcal per gram, fibres 2 kcal per gram, while fats provide 9 kcal. Here’s a practical example: 100 g of shelled almonds are made up of 53 g of fat and this, broadly speaking, means that about 470 kcal of the 616 kcal that these 100 g of almonds provide are given by their fat content.

Lipid nuts represent a great mid-morning or mid afternoon snack, it is useful to lower the glycemic index of meals, provides a sense of satiety and can tastefully enrich a yogurt for breakfast or even a salad. What is important to keep in mind to avoid assuming excessive calories when choosing to consume dried fruit is the following:

  • paying attention to the quantities and moderating the doses;
  • inserting nuts within a balanced nutritional plan;
  • following a nutritional plan that is based on the specific physiological needs.

A mistake that should be avoided is thinking that lipid nuts, as calorically dense food, could hurt health. Actually, the opposite is true!

Fortunately, in fact, most of the fats contained in dried lipidic fruit are unsaturated: depending on the type of dried fruit under examination, in the lipid composition you can find different types of fatty acids. Among these the most represented are oleic acid, the typical fatty acid of olive oil, but also fatty acids belonging to the class of Omega-6 and Omega-3, whose balanced consumption is usually associated with a regulation of the levels of the so-called "bad cholesterol" and contributes to the normalization of blood cholesterol levels.

Unlike dried lipidic fruit, dried fruit is also called dried glucidic fruit because it is rich in sugars, fibre and generally almost fat-free. The term “glucidic” comes from the fact that the drying process removes up to 30-35% of the water present in fresh fruit by concentrating nutrients. This also explains why, given the same weight, 100 g of fresh plums provide much less calories than 100 g of pitted prunes. In fact, the concentration of sugar increases the calorie content. This also explains why in the Guidelines for Healthy Italian Food a standard portion of fresh fruit corresponds to 150 g, while a portion of dried fruit corresponds to 30 g.



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