Not so long ago, the medical honchos told us that eating nuts was not good for our health. We believed them because they are, after all, the medical gurus, and we are just mortal men and women. Besides, if you think about it, what possible redeeming value could a peanut butter and jelly sandwich be, or, if you are really decadent and like swirling your tablespoon around in the Jif bottle and delivering yourself a big mouthful of that creamy or crunchy goodness? They shamed us into believing peanut butter was a no-no.
Nuts are good to eat
It is almost as though we have been shamed forever as to enjoying nuts… or, told to only enjoy a small amount of these tasty treats. Actually, nuts are one of the most-nutritious snacks you can find, especially raw tree nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts, all which have proven to be linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even a lower cancer risk.
But very few Americans eat nuts regularly. This is due to nuts’ reputation as a high-sodium or salty food, laden with oils and calories galore. Others try nuts, but get the plain variety, then find that treat horribly bland and boring. And, while you might think that a tasty peanut butter and banana sandwich is bad for you – think again. It is a dietician’s recommended treat for kids and adults – just don’t fry that sandwich in deep fat like Elvis used to do.
Don’t discard the idea of eating nuts as a snack because there is a certain amount of “good fat” that you will reap from eating them. Don’t go overboard and cram handfuls of nuts into your mouth, but, instead, noshing on a small amount of nuts can contribute filling protein, fiber, unsaturated fats and important vitamins and minerals to your diet. For example, here are some health benefits of nuts:
- Walnuts are packed with antioxidants and are considered “inflammation fighters” which will help to protect your body from the cellular damage, one of the contributing factors toward heart disease, cancer and premature aging. Walnuts’ special claim to fame is that they are the richest of all nuts in omega-3 fatty acids. If you like fish, you know the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. If you purchase grass-fed beef, as opposed to corn-fed beef, you will reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids as well. Cows that dine on grass and clover rather than corn produce better-tasting beef that is better for you. But… if you’re not a fish or beef eater, don’t resort to a vitamin pill to get your omega-3 fatty acids – simply toss a handful of walnuts into your mouth daily. Walnuts are even also used by many women to reduce PMS symptoms; it is believed that manganese in walnuts helps to thwart PMS issues. Just 14 walnut halves equals 185 calories and are 18 grams of fat.
- Almonds are loaded with fiber and considered good for your digestive track. Compared to other nuts, almonds are the richest in vitamin E, which is considered a powerful antioxidant and they are beneficial to your weight-loss plan, especially for those who must be concerned with their blood sugar level. Almonds will cause a drop in bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and they also raise the levels of good bacteria that bolster the body’s immune system. Just 23 almonds equals 170 calories and are 15 grams of fat.
- Cashews are brain power boosters, and, as to nutrients, cashews are particularly rich in iron and zinc. Iron helps deliver oxygen to all of your cells, which can prevent anemia, and zinc is critical to immune health and healthy vision, so eating cashews is a win-win way to keep staying healthy. The consumption of cashews will boost your magnesium intake as one ounce provides almost 25% of your daily needs. Magnesium may help improve your memory and protect against age-related memory loss. Grab a handful of approximately 18 cashews which equals 165 calories and 13 grams of fat.
- Pecans are defenders of your arteries. They are also rich in antioxidants and will help to prevent plaque formation in your arteries. Regular consumption of pecans will help lower LDL cholesterol levels as much as 33%. Not only do they boost your brain power, but can thwart ALS (a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s disease). Approximately 18 pecan halves equals 175 calories and 21 grams of fat.
- Brazil nuts are not only tasty, but they are a potent cancer protector. A handful of Brazil nuts will provide 100% of the daily value for the mineral selenium, which may help prevent certain cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. Since they are so large, mere five or six nuts will count 185 calories and contain just 18 grams of fat.
- Macadamia nuts are tasty but also one of the most calorie-laden nuts. On the plus side, macadamia nuts help lower LDL, a/k/a ‘‘bad” cholesterol levels, as well as lowering blood pressure as much as 10%. But, about ten macadamia nuts will “cost you” 200 calories and 22 grams of fat.
- Pistachios are heralded as the most-slimming nut, with less than four calories each. Too bad they are rather high maintenance to open however, and, perhaps that is another reason for their moniker of the “most-slimming nut”. Buy a big bag of pistachios and dole out two ounces daily to help reduce lung cancer risks and provide you with potassium, vitamin E and vitamin B-6, which can lift your mood and fortify your immune system. One serving is pretty generous – 50 nuts, and that is 160 calories and 14 grams of fat.
- Hazelnuts are heralded for their benefits to improving heart health and managing type 2 diabetes. Consumption of hazelnuts will benefit your eyes as they aid in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration. They will also help to maintain healthy skin and reduce the risk of dementia. Just 21 hazelnuts is 180 calories and 17 grams of fat.
So now that you’re in the know, reap the health benefits of nuts; feel free to go nutty today!