GO AHEAD – GO NUTS! IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Welcome Everyone to another What’s on the #Menu Monday. Today we’re going to discuss Nuts – why you shouldn’t be afraid of them AND which ones are best for your Health!
To begin, nuts often get a bad rap. Many people stay away from them and fail to include them in their diet because nuts have the unfortunate reputation of being loaded with fat and calories.
But, the truth is that most of the fat found in nuts is the monounsaturated fat – and this is the really good kind that benefits our heart, reduces cholesterol, lowers our risk for stroke and supplies us with loads of antioxidants, which boost our immune system and protect us from a variety of diseases and illnesses.
Now, there are calories in fat. We just can’t get away from that. Indeed, all fats – whether they’re considered good fats or bad fats — contain 9 calories per gram. But, choosing foods with monounsaturated fats – like good-for-you nuts – and monitoring your portion intake — will do much more to help your health rather than hurt your waistline. We just need to know which nuts are the best for us and what health benefits they provide. Because, different nuts provide different benefits.
For example, almonds contain more calcium than any other nut. And, pine nuts have more vitamin K than their counterparts. So, let’s try to put any prejudice we might have aside for the moment and see if we can give the old nut another chance. At least, let’s consider the following “handful” of nuts – because these are among the healthiest on the planet. 🙂
SEVEN OF THE HEALTHIEST NUTS YOU CAN EAT:
- MACADAMIA NUT: Of course, this particular nut leads the list. First, it is one of the most delicious of nuts with its crunchy texture and its rich, buttery flavor. It’s also a very filling nut because it contains more monounsaturated fat than any other nut. Now, this can be a double-edged sword. Yes, the fat is the good kind. But, each macadamia nut contains a lot of this fat and about 200 calories per ounce. So, it’s wise to only eat a small portion of these nuts at a time. Remember, we want to increase our health rather than our weight. So, common sense and moderation is advised here. But, it’s good to know that just a small portion of this nut provides potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B. It’s also a great source of fiber and the high fat content can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels protecting us from clogged arteries and stroke. And, of course, the antioxidants will help protect us from disease and illness, including some cancers such as breast cancer.
- PINE NUT: Here we have another really tasty nut – and again, one that is very high in fat and, therefore, calories. While the macadamia nut weighs in at about 200 calories per ounce, the pine nut weighs in at about 191 calories per ounce. So, once again, we need to indulge with caution and the proper portion control. But, once we have the quantity in check, as already mentioned this nut packs more vitamin K than any other nut. This means it’s great for strengthening and maintaining healthy arteries and bones. It also contains vitamin E, protein and fiber. And the magnesium and potassium found in the pine nut help keep our hearts healthy and protect us from high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Of course, don’t forget the antioxidants, which go hand in hand with monounsaturated fat.
- PISTACHIO: Now, unlike the macadamia and the pine nut, the pistachio is low in monounsaturated fat and low in calories containing only about 3 calories each. As a result, the pistachio is actually known as the “skinny nut” with about 160 calories an ounce. Not only is it a tasty and filling nut, it contains thiamin, potassium and vitamin B. The monounsaturated fat content helps reduce our bad LDL cholesterol levels and provides antioxidants for our immune system. What’s more, the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers Conference found that eating pistachios daily may help decrease our risk for cancer, including lung cancer.
- ALMOND: Okay, now who doesn’t like almonds? Another delicious, crunchy nut that makes a perfect snack any time of day. An almond contains slightly less monounsaturated fat than the macadamia or pine nut and, therefore, slightly less calories at about 162 per ounce. This is a nutrient-dense nut that’s packed with fiber and protein, which helps to keep us feeling full between meals. It also provides high amounts of zinc and potassium AND more calcium than any other nut, which is great for our bones and teeth. Moreover, the folic acid and vitamin E in an almond helps reduce cholesterol levels and promote a healthy heart.
- WALNUT: I love this particular nut. It’s so versatile. I use it when cooking and in salads all the time. Now, the walnut has a bit more “good” fat so one ounce contains about 180 calories. But, the walnut also contains more antioxidants than any other type of nut. This means, of course, that this nut can help improve our immune system and, in turn, reduce stress and help protect against certain illnesses and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The folate and zinc in a walnut also increase the brain’s ability to produce the “feel good” chemical serotonin, which helps boost our mood and brain function. And, the plant sterols and omega-3 fats help lower our cholesterol levels.
- PECAN: Similar to the walnut, the pecan is loaded with antioxidants and plant sterols – both of which help to improve immune system functioning, lower cholesterol levels and protect arteries from arteriosclerosis. Each pecan also is a good source of vitamin E, which also helps protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and again, certain cancers. A pecan also is packed with vitamin B3, which helps our bodies turn food into energy. So, it’s a great snack to eat when we’re feeling tired as it helps renew our physical energy and mental clarity. It’s a bit higher in fat at about 195 calories per ounce. But remember, more fat equals more antioxidants.
- CASHEW: Now, this nut may surprise you because it actually contains less fat than almost any other nut. It contains about 157 calories per ounce, but more importantly it’s a wonderful source of iron. In fact, cashews contain twice as much iron as ground beef, which is really good news if you’re a vegetarian. This nut also provides vitamin E, vitamin B, calcium and folic acid. And, the magnesium in a cashew is great for providing us with energy and protecting our bones.
And, there we have it. In a nutshell. The low-down on nuts and why they can be so good for our health. They can be a wonderful source of antioxidants. They can provide us with many nutritional properties, including fiber for our digestion, protein for strong bones and tissues, and a variety of minerals and vitamins that aid everything from physical energy and stamina to mental clarity and brain power.
What’s more – a packet of nuts is portable. Nuts are easy to carry and require no cooking, heating or refrigeration. You can easily eat them on the go with very little muss or fuss. Just try to select those nuts that offer great food value — and try to stay away from those that are roasted or salted. Because, these two processes will alter the nutritional quality of any nut.
I hope that sheds light on this particular subject. And, I hope this clears up the rather dubious – and mostly undeserved — reputation of the often misunderstood nut. Thanks again for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .
TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!