February 20, 2012 — Many consumers are unaware how beneficial nuts, beans, and seeds can be when it comes to getting the proper amount of nutrients in your diet.

In the February 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes that heart health, weight management, healthy cholesterol levels, and cognitive health are just some of the benefits that these foods can offer.

Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain fiber, phytosterols and plant protein. In a scientific review, Berryman et al. (2011) showed that consuming a breakfast containing almonds aids in stabilizing blood glucose levels for most of the day and provides a lasting feeling of fullness. Pistachios are also considered a part of a heart-healthy diet and may also lower cholesterol. In addition some research has shown that walnuts may have been linked to benefits related to brain health and cancer.

Beans, also called legumes, also play an important role in diet. They contribute complex carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants that may help lower the odds of cognitive deficits or the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Pulses like dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas are also members of the legume family and contain both fiber, protein, as well as seven of the eight essential amino acids needed in the body.

Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds also contribute a myriad of essential minerals and amino acids to the human diet. Chia seeds can be mixed with liquids to create sports drinks for athletes with omega-3s to address inflammation and protein to help with muscle recovery.