It's not just because of the many, many, many health benefits they have - which we will be listing, don't worry - but also because of the planet-saving stories that go behind them!
Here are just a handful of reasons as to why picking up a bag of Fairtrade nuts and making them a part of daily life is SO good for us.
Maybe not the healthiest but by far the most popular - with almost two thirds of global purchasing being the humble groundnut - peanuts are incredibly versatile and used in cuisines around the world.
And this huge popularity in the market has enabled farmers to diversify away from more problematic crops and to profit from healthy peanut harvests.
In Malawi for example, until recently the prime crop for many was tobacco, but this waning trade left many smallholder farmers in complex financial situations. The Peanut Innovation Lab has been supporting farmers in developing countries to make a profit from peanuts and has begun research into peanut-based nutrition, gender and youth.
And aside from all that, despite being high in calories, peanuts, in their original form, are nutrient-rich and low in carbohydrates.
Health Benefits of Peanuts
- An excellent source of protein, essential for building and repairing cells.
- Full of healthy fats which can help prevent heart disease and strokes.
- A good source of fibre which can lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- An excellent source of vitamins, including vitamin E, Magnesium and Folic Acid.
- Proven not to contribute to weight gain and even help with weight loss.
- A low glycemic index, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels for more sustained energy release.
So get cooking with peanuts! The Guardian can start you off with their chosen 10 Best Peanut Recipes.
The Brazil nut or ´Amazon nut´, as referred to by members of gatherer cooperatives, are almost solely grown in the wild, being close to impossible to domestically cultivate.
Despite their name, these majestic trees predominantly grow on the Bolivian side of the Amazon and local communities trek deep into the rainforest to collect the heavy pods that fall to the ground. Once broken into, these pods are stuffed with dense, creamy kernels that are full of nutritional value.
The fact that these huge, untamebale trees are a multi-million dollar industry and that the harvesting and sale of their fruits, for once, is beneficial to the protection and preservation of the Amazon is in itself quite a feat. The gatherer communities work two-fold, not just to collect these pods to sell on to the international market but also are often responsible for the monitoring and care of thousands of hectares of rainforest.
And once you have those creamy kernels in your hand...
The enormous benefits of eating Brazil nuts
- Rich in selenium, an element essential for healthy body functions, significantly thyroid, cell growth and the immune system.
- Higher levels of selenium can help outcomes for cancer, infections, infertility, pregnancy, heart disease, and mood disorders.(And apparently only 2 brazil nuts a day will give you the same quantity as a supplement!)
- High in monounsaturated fats (good fats!) which improve your cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
- The antioxidant properties can reduce inflammation in the body, which has associations with many chronic diseases.
Cashews grow on the outside of the cashew apple and, once the toxic outer shell has been removed, the creamy and delicious fruit inside has a wealth of uses; eaten roasted, added into a wide variety of dishes and often used as an alternative to dairy.
Liberation in fact provides own-label, juicy Fairtrade cashews to independent businesses carving innovative pathways into plant-based alternatives from 'creamy' gelato ice creams to indulgent, high-end chocolates.
So, it is great to know that they are also packed with nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.
The health benefits of cashews are:
- High in copper, needed for energy production and brain development whilst also creating natural collagen to help with bone development.
- Full of antioxidants which help keep skin healthy and glowing as well as maintain elasticity.
- Rich in unsaturated fatty acids
- Linked to lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular diseases.
- High in lutein, another type of antioxidant that prevents damage to the eyes.
- A recent study including over 80,000 women also discovered a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones if cashews were included in the diet.
(NB. Before we continue we should probably admit that technically none of the above are ´nuts´. Cashews and Brazil nuts are considered to be seeds whilst peanuts are actually a legume, closely associated with lentils, beans and soy. But let´s not worry too much about labelling - they all share brilliant benefits!)
The Macadamia nut IS a nut though. It originated in Australia and as the most expensive nut in the world it is synonymous with true luxury. The cost is so high mainly due to the slow harvesting process and the fact that only two types of the macadamia tree produce edible fruits.
This crop is now being cultivated for climate adaptation in the fight against climate change. Planted by farmers with the support of HIMACUL cooperative and referred to as 'a retirement crop' due to their long term benefits, Liberation have chosen to support this climate-smart agroforestry project by commiting to pay climate mitigation directly to them.
The rich, buttery nuts are also stuffed with oily goodness and fats that are truly beneficial to your health.
Macadamia benefits inside and out
- One of the richest sources of omega 7, which help with hair, nail and skin health by preventing oxidative damage.
- Particularly helpful for those suffering from type 2 diabetes as the monounsaturated fatty acids can reduce metabolic risks and improve glycemic control.
- 100% cholesterol free and are very helpful in reducing cholesterol levels.
- They have something called tocotrienols which is a form of Vitamin E. Not only does it have cancer fighting abilities and can help protect brain cells from developing Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
- Full of proteins and fibres which help stave off hunger, prevent spikes in blood sugar and are generally helpful in reducing craving, so whilst they have a high fat content they can help with weight reduction.
So behind every nut (or legume) is a story and that's why we are such big fans!
From health benefits to the protection of the planet, adding a handful of nuts into your daily diet has multiple benefits.
And just to give ousleves a little plug...Liberation provides all the Fairtrade, organic cashew and brazil nuts to Tesco and the Fairtrade brazil and cashew nuts to Sainsburys as well as our offering our own range of snacks which you can now buy directly from our website!