Nuts, Far More Than a Tasty Snack

The benefits of nuts are finally being recognized now that the anti-fat craze has passed. We now know better than to automatically cast aside a product because of its fat value.  Today there is a clear understanding of fats and there types: “good” and “bad”.   Nuts, contain unsaturated fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. What makes them such a great snack, are inexpensive and ready to eat, and easy to find.  Not only are they tasty they are good for heart health, lowering cholesterol, and promote weight loss.

In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized several nuts, including walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts and pistachios, to be promoted as helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease and cholesterol problems.  Walnuts stand out in particular because they are the only ones with omega-3s.

“When you look at the health benefits, I have to put walnuts at the top of that list because they are good source protein, good source of fats and they have a moderate amount of carbohydrates,” said dietician Connie Diekman of the California Walnut Board’s scientific advisory committee.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Walnuts come out on top with their omega-3 values but all kinds of nuts are nutritious in any form regardless of plain, roasted, or a spreadable butter.

People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the low-density lipoprotein “bad” cholesterol level in their blood.  Tree-nuts should be apart of your diet because they promote a healthy heart.  Harvard’s report, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that daily nut-eaters were ‘less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Overall, the daily nut-eaters were 20% less likely to have died during the course of the study than those who avoided nuts.”

Research now shows that eating tree nuts can help with weight management.  As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat, don’t be scared it is unsaturated fat, “good” which is why nuts are heart healthy.  A study released this past January confirms that consumption of tree nuts had a inverse relationship with weight gain.  Researchers found that study participants who ate the most tree nuts – such as almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts – were between 37 and 46 percent less likely to be obese than those who ate the fewest tree nuts.

“Nuts are high in protein and fiber, which delays absorption and decreases hunger,” said Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, adding that nuts contain mostly unsaturated healthy fats.  So you will be more satisfied if you eat a handful of nuts rather than some potato chips.

Nuts aren’t a magic pill in food form.  In order to rep all of their benefits they need to be consumed proportionately, will little or no salt, and not coated in chocolate.  Also they should be substitute for unhealthy fats, not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won’t do your heart any good even if you eat a few nuts.  If whole nuts aren’t your thing nut butters are great, but be picky when picking out your next jar of peanut butter.  Many brands add sugar, molases, hydrogenated oil and other ingredients.  The best peanut butter is made with only peanuts and salt, so be sure to read the nutrition label even if it says its natural and healthy.  Remember sugar is natural and so are the oils they add.  Finally, never ever by reduced-fat peanut butter, the high fat content is okay in the regular varieties because its unsaturated fat and they add even more junk into those poor reduced-fat jars.

 

 

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Posted on April 5, 2014, in Food and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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