Nuts have prolonged popularity in the field of health. This is because of the numerous health benefits that come with consuming this power food. Whether they are peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans or cashews, the link between the consumption of nuts and the nutritional benefits seem to be endless.
Not only do nuts make a great crunchy snack for the day, but integrating them into your diet can keep your heart and body healthy. Nuts are packed with antioxidants, protein and other nutrients, such as, fiber, calcium and Vitamin E. They also contain essential fats, such as, unsaturated and Omega-3 fatty acids. According to research, eating nuts can aid in lowering the LDL, low density lipoprotein or “bad”, cholesterol level in blood, reduce risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, body fat and also aid in weight loss! According to the Food and Drug Administration, it is recommended to eat a handful (1.5 ounces/42.5 grams) of this vitality boosting snack a day.
Before we rush to overindulge on nuts because of the stated health benefits, it’s important to keep in mind that nuts also have a high fat content; as much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. However this fat can be classified as a “good fat”. The words “good” and “fat” don’t get used in the same sentence very often. It’s time to change that, healthy fats such as the fat in nuts are among the healthiest foods we can put in our bodies. They aid in the decrease of unhealthy cholesterol, increase in the healthy cholesterol, lubricate our joints; provide building material for the cells of our brain and heart just to name a few benefits. Besides being good for our overall health, they aid in the increase of our metabolism, think of them as fuel on our metabolic fire. Though this is the “good and essential fat”, we must consume them in moderation to ensure they are assisting in managing weight and not the reason for weight gain!
Each type of nut has different nutrients and vitamins, for example, almonds, are more rich in the bone building mineral, calcium, and high in the skin improving vitamin, vitamin E. Whereas chestnuts are lower in protein, fat and calories, but high in vitamin C and B. Here are a few suggestions on how to go absolutely nuts:
- Add crunch in a new way! Nuts have an awesome, crunchy taste; add them to your low fat in yogurt in the morning or your frozen yogurt for a late night snack.
- Keep a bag of trail mix at your desk for a mid day snack.
- Use nuts as a substitution for other fatty foods. Nuts are a great source of protein and high in unsaturated fats, try to replace fatty meats and cheeses that are high in saturated fats with your favorite nut. Instead of meat or cheese in your salad, add cranberries and walnuts.
- A nutty butter alternative. Almond butter or all natural peanut butter is another way to add some more nuts into your diet! Try it on some apples or crackers, it’s delicious!
- Choose unsalted or raw. When choosing your nuts, make sure sodium content doesn’t become an issue and purchase nuts that are raw, natural and without salt.
Many Americans have severe nut allergies, symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, swelling of the lips, face, or throat, trouble breathing, and itchy rash. If you experience these symptoms, you need to seek immediate medical attention and call 911.
Sources: American Heart Association and United States Food and Drug Administration.