They are good for you! After years of being labeled "bad" foods, nuts are garnering national attention as a tool in maintaining overall health. Nuts are being credited with helping to lower the risk of heart attacks, maintaining young, elastic skin and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's.
Tree nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and walnuts, have no cholesterol and are high in unsaturated ("good") fats; they help reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels. One healthy fat, linolenic acid, is an example of an unsaturated fat that helps maintain good heart health.
Nuts are high in calories but are also cholesterol-free and they provide good sources of protein, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E and selenium. In small portions, nuts can be a healthful food choice.
Try these tips for incorporating nuts into your diet:
- Instead of simply adding nuts to your diet, eat them in place of other snacks; that way you won't add extra calories.
- Weigh the nuts before you eat them. Find a convenient sized container to store a single serving in (like a small mint tin). To measure out an ounce of nuts use a regular ½ ounce shot glass-2 shot glasses = 1 ounce.
- Choose raw nuts. If you opt for dry-roasted or oil- roasted nuts, be aware that the calorie and fat content will usually be higher. If nuts are roasted with hydrogenated oil the quality of the fat will be compromised. Also remember that added salt may not be good for those with high blood pressure.
- Avoid sugar-coated, chocolate-dipped and other candied nuts, as these add unnecessary fat calories.
- Buy nuts in the shell; having to crack them open will slow your eating down!
- Coconut and palm nuts are exceptions to the healthy nut rule as they contain high levels of saturated fats.