Nuts

nuts

I think a lot of people are wary about including nuts in their diet because they are under the impression that nuts are fattening. Nuts are quite high in fat, BUT…the majority of the fat is good fat (mono and polyunsaturated fats)! It is actually important to include some nuts in your diet on a regular basis.

Why?

Nuts are:

  • Low in saturated fats (bad fats)
  • Rich in:
    • Both good mono & polyunsaturated fats (good fats)
    • Fibre
    • Vitamins and minerals
    • Phytochemicals
    • Antioxidants
  • One ounce of nuts, five times a week has been associated with a 9-29% decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels. That is pretty significant!
  • Nuts are also said to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function.

Incorporating nuts into your diet

  • Eat a variety of nuts. This way you can reap the benefits of all nuts, rather than sticking to just one kind.
  • Eat only UNSALTED nuts. Most of us easily surpass the recommended daily intake of sodium as it is, so we don’t need to be adding any more extra sodium into our diets.
  • Substitute butter with nuts on cooked vegetables. A little sprinkle of almonds or walnuts can be a nice alternative topping for your vegetables.
  • Similarly you can add nuts to your salads. We always sprinkle a few slivered almonds, walnuts or even sunflower seeds on our lettuce salads. They are a really nice addition!
  • Use nut butter in place of dairy butter or margarine.
  • Eat a handful of nuts as a snack rather than reaching for chips, granola bars, bread etc.

Which nuts are the healthiest? What about the lowest in fat?

Here’s a little chart that compares some of the most common nuts.

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 12.42.33 PM*Chart from the book Healthy Sin Foods: Decadence Without the Guilt by Dr. Joey Shulman

  • Brazil nuts and cashews are the highest in saturated (bad) fats, while pecans and hazelnuts are the lowest in saturated fats.
  • Almonds, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts are highest in mono-unsaturated heart-healthy fats
  • Walnuts are the highest in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Just ¼ cup of walnuts provides 90% of the recommended daily intake of omega-3. Wow!

Nuts may be full of good fat, but an overload of them can still have negative effects, so it is important to eat nuts in moderation. A handful daily really is enough!

Are you nuts for nuts?

DID YOU KNOW?

Although we think of almonds as a nut, technically they are the seed of a fruit that grows from the almond tree.

IMG_26142On a recent family vacation, we found an almond tree on our resort. We were enamored by not only the size of its leaves, but the fact that each “fruit” produces only one almond nut!

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