Nuts are on the “hot” list of healthy foods due to several studies that have linked them with a range of health benefits. One study found that eating nuts is associated with a lower risk of some cancers and type 2 diabetes, another study linked nut consumption with a longer life, and another research found that replacing a high-carb snack with almonds helped reduce belly fat.
“In addition, nuts are linked with heart health,” says Georgia Giannopoulos, RD, CDN, a senior dietitian at New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell. “Nuts are packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and eating unsaturated instead of saturated fats has been linked with improved HDL cholesterol and decreased LDL cholesterol.” In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that eating one and a half ounces of most nuts daily will help lower your risk of heart disease.
Other valuable Nutrients
“Nuts are a rich source of fiber and protein, as well as several essential vitamins and minerals,” says Giannoploulos. “Since nuts provide fiber and protein, they may satisfy your appetite more quickly and keep hunger pangs at bay longer than if you eat processed snack foods, many of which are lacking in fiber and protein.” Snacking on nuts may help with weight-loss efforts by curbing your hunger and preventing you from over-eating.
Replacing carbohydrates, such as bread or crackers, with nuts also can help achieve better control of blood glucose levels, a primary goal for more than 21 million Americans with diagnosed diabetes.
And, nuts are a good source of potassium and magnesium, minerals that help your body maintain normal blood pressure. Plant sterols – substances that lower blood cholesterol – are also found in nuts.
To get nuts into your daily diet, follow these tips:
- Since nuts have a high fat content, they can go rancid. If you buy nuts in bulk, store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Make “snack packs” of nuts. Portion out one ounce of nuts in a small container or plastic bag and grab them when you get the urge for potato chips or a candy bar.
- Mix chopped or ground nuts on salads, yogurt, cereal, whole grain side dishes and cooked vegetables.
- Sprinkle slivered or chopped nuts on salads, yogurt, cereal, whole grain side dishes and cooked vegetables.
- Keep nuts in an easily accessible, highly visible location in your pantry or cupboard so they’re convenient.
Don’t Go Overboard
One serving of nuts is equal to one ounce, or about one-quarter cup of one handful of nuts. Since nuts are calorie dense as well as nutrient-dense, they should be consumed in moderation (one serving per day) as part of a well-balanced diet.
“Nuts contain a variety of nutrients, including energy (calories). If you are looking to add more calories to your daily diet, it’s smarter to substitute nuts for another food in your meal plan rather than just adding the,” says Giannoploulos.
Subsitute nuts for foods that contain saturated fat and/or carbohydrates, such as full-fat cheeses and processed meats such as pepperoni, summer sausage, and salami, and for any crackers, breads and snake foods made primarily of refined white flour.
How Many Nuts in an Ounce?
Nuts — and hands — come in different sizes; one simple way to tell how many nuts are in a one-ounce serving is to count them out.
- Almonds – 24
- Brazil Nuts – 6
- Cashews – 18
- Hazelnuts – 20
- Macadamias – 12
- Peanuts – 28
- Pecans – 20 halves
- Pine Nuts – 167
- Pistachios – 49
- Walnuts – 12 to 14 halves
Courtesy of “Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center”