Nuts For You!
Patricia Zifferblatt | November 15, 2005

It was once believed and taught (and I was one of them!) that since nuts are high in fat, and fat wasn’t a good thing in those days, they should be avoided. But that was then and this is now. Times change, and new research has shown that nuts, although high in fat and calories, are high in the good fats that can be protective of the blood vessels. So we’ve changed our tune--and I apologize to all!

Now we know that your body needs healthy fats. The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recently changed its recommendations to 20-33% of total calories from fat, depending on the individual--as long as the fat consumed is high in monounsaturated and moderate in polyunsaturated fats (the healthy fats). Medical research recommends eating these fats instead of artery-clogging saturated fats found in red meats, and trans-fats found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings, and margarines.

Nuts are not only a good source of healthy fats, but also protein. Many types of nuts are high in vitamin E, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients. Nuts are an excellent replacement for high-fat meats in recipes, and other simple-carbohydrate (think “high sugar”) snacks.

So what’s the story on nuts? What’s in them? Here’s a rundown on several kinds of dry-roasted nuts:

Pecans
1 oz = 196 calories
3 g protein
1.8 g saturated fat
6.1 g polyunsaturated fat
11.6 g monounsaturated fat

Walnuts
1 oz = 185 calories
4 g protein
1.7 g saturated fat
13.4 g polyunsaturated fat
2.5 g monounsaturated fat

Cashews
1 oz = 163 calories
4 g protein
2.6 g saturated fat
2.2 g polyunsaturated fat
7.7 g monounsaturated fat

Almonds
1 oz = 164 calories
6 g protein
1.1 g saturated fat
3.5 g polyunsaturated fat
9.1 g monounsaturated fat
Hazelnuts
1 oz = 178 calories
4 g protein
1.3 g saturated fat
2.2 g polyunsaturated fat
12.9 g monounsaturated fat

Peanuts
1 oz = 166 calories
7 g protein
2 g saturated fat
4.4 g polyunsaturated fat
7 g monounsaturated fat

Macadamia Nuts
1 oz = 203 calories
2 g protein
3.4 g saturated fat
4 g polyunsaturated fat
16.8 g monounsaturated fat

Pistachio Nuts
1 oz = 158 calories
6 g protein
1.5 g saturated fat
3.8 g polyunsaturated fat
6.6 g monounsaturated fat

As you can see from the above chart, not all nuts are created equal. Many studies show that if a person eats one ounce of nuts 2-4 times per week, the risks of cardiovascular disease are lowered. Of course this statement goes along with eating a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise. Nuts are not the silver bullet to make you healthy, wealthy, and wise--not without a lifestyle change!

A neat trick with nuts is to make Teddy’s Nut Medley and keep it in a zip-lock bag or covered container for healthy snacking. Here’s Ted’s recipe:

Mix together equal parts of raisins, hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds, and place in a plastic bag or covered jar.

Since this medley is high in calories (albeit healthy calories), don’t eat the entire bag at one sitting! Measure out a portion in the palm of your hand, and munch away to your heart’s content.

Another healthy idea is to add a few nuts to a salad, cereal, fruit dessert, brown rice dish, as a garnish, or in a casserole dish.
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