According to a large 30-year study, eating a handful of nuts every day could lower your risk of dying by 20 percent. Nuts are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. They’re also a good source of protein and healthy fiber too. NOTE: If you thought nuts were off-limits when trying to lose weight, think again. The fiber will help fill up you and the healthy fat will help keep you satisfied longer.
Researchers report a decreased risk for most major causes of death like heart disease and cancer. Nuts are rich in healthful unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients*. Here’s how you can benefit and enjoy them.
- Eat nuts seven or more times per week. Eating nuts just once a week lowered the risk of dying by 11 percent.
- Eat one ounce of nuts per day — approximately 1/4 cup or one “handful”.
- Beware of canned and packaged nuts (e.g., in Trail Mixes) that have been processed with oil and salt. It’s healthier to buy them raw and roast them at home without the additives.
- Limit your intake of Brazil nuts to one per day or only occasionally due to their unusually high levels of selenium* (an essential mineral). One Brazil nut contains 70-90 mcg of this mineral and the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 55 mcg. Selenium is found in soil. Symptoms of selenium toxicity include nausea, vomiting, brittle nails, nail loss/discoloration, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, and “garlic breath”.
*Nut phytonutrients (plant nutrients) have been shown to help fight free-radical damage, prevent inflammation, and lower blood cholesterol.
Note: Previous clinical studies showed eating nuts may help:
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Decrease high blood sugar
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Keep blood vessels healthy
- Reduce chronic low-level inflammation
How to Roast Nuts
- To control your portions, roast one serving of nuts at a time. Toss some shelled nuts (no shell) in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted. NO OIL is necessary. Keep the nuts moving to prevent burning and toast evenly (several minutes).
Fit Nuts into Your Eating Plan
- Snack on nuts instead of chips or crackers.
- Sprinkle toasted, slivered almonds or hazelnuts over Brussels sprouts, green beans or asparagus.
- Stir roasted pine nuts into pasta dishes.
- Add walnuts to oatmeal, smoothies, cottage cheese, salads, and wraps.
- Use hazelnut meal/flour or almond meal/flour in place of bread crumbs in meatballs or as a coating for baked fish or chicken. Replace 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour with nut flour in baked goods to reduce carbohydrates and add flavor/texture.
- Store nuts in the refrigerator for up to 6 months in air-tight containers (i.e., glass jars, plastic containers, or freezer bags). Due to their high fat content, nuts can become rancid quickly. Light and heat increase the time it takes for nuts to spoil. You can also keep them in the freezer for up to one year if you store them properly.
Nuts keep longer if they are:
- Whole (compared to chopped or ground ones)
- In their shells
- Raw (Rancidity occurs when oils are exposed to prolonged light and heat, so roasted nuts will go rancid more quickly since they’ve been treated with heat.)
- Salted (but avoid the salted nuts)
- Cashews or almonds (pecans, walnuts and peanuts are more prone to spoiling)
Fit Tip: Eat walnuts for an especially high dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. They contain about 2.6 gm of omega-3’s per ounce (~14 halves). A four-oz. serving of salmon contains about 2.1 gm.
*New England Journal of Medicine (November 21, 2013).
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