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With wise nut selections, fill your nutritional gaps.

Since our ancient ancestors relied on gathering nuts for sustenance, nuts have remained a mainstay of our diets.

On appetizer trays, at sporting events, thrown in salads, stir-fried with veggies, and as a topping on sundaes are just a few places you might find them. They are minced and utilized as spreads. Our favorite cookies, pies, and pastries contain them after baking. You see, nuts play a significant role in our life.

But ought they to?

You might have heard conflicting opinions on nuts’ nutritional value. They may have been described as having a high-fat content. or that they ought to be avoided due to the possibility of nut allergies.

The most recent scientific data contradicts this.

A heart-healthy diet should include nuts. However, data from studies indicate that only about one-third of People eat them. A variety of nuts can offer significant health advantages. Additionally, giving peanut butter to newborn babies can assist to prevent peanut allergies.

Our conversation with registered dietitian Devon Peart, MHSc, BASc, RD, focused on the advantages of different types of nuts for health and how to include more of them in your diet.

Health benefits of nuts

Peart cites the Nurses’ Health Study and the Adventist Health Study as two sizable epidemiological studies that have demonstrated some significant health benefits of consuming more nuts. More than 110,000 people’s diets were examined, and it was shown individuals who consumed 5 or more ounces of nuts per week had much lower risks of developing heart disease and passing away.

By how much less? By 35% to 50% less, people who ate more nuts reduced their risk. (Wow!)

What are nuts?

Nuts originate from numerous plant families. They are either categorized as tree nuts (a single-seeded fruit with a tough shell) or peanuts (a member of the legume family). They all have some similar health advantages. Among the advantages of nuts are:

  • A reliable supply of dietary fiber.
  • A lot of protein.
  • Vitamin E, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and potassium are just a few of the beneficial vitamins and minerals that are present.
  • A good source of l-arginine, a non-essential amino acid that helps prevent plaque development in the heart.
  • Brimming with beneficial phytochemicals that have been connected to heart disease prevention.

Nuts are high in fat, though, right?

Between 160 and 200 calories, 80% to 90% of which are made up of fat, are found in a 1-ounce serving of nuts. Hence, nuts do contain a lot of fat. Yet that doesn’t mean we should disregard them.

Monounsaturated fat makes up the majority of the fat in nuts. Monounsaturated fat can lower your total cholesterol when it is used in place of saturated fat in your diet. Moreover, they can keep your HDL, the “good” cholesterol, while lowering your LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

Peart explains that although nuts are heavy in fat, they are also quite high in calories, therefore it’s crucial to include them in your diet in moderation. “In place of foods heavy in unhealthy fat, particularly saturated fat, try nuts. For instance, use nuts as salad toppings rather than croutons and bacon bits.

Maintain your serving size. To benefit from the heart disease-preventing properties of a variety of nuts, consume just one 1-ounce serving per day or five ounces per week. A serving’s size is. According to Peart, an ounce of nuts is equivalent to one serving. “Around a few.”

Kind of nuts    How many are in a single serving? (1 oz.)
Peanuts      35     
Almonds    24
Medium-sized cashews  18
Pecan halves         15
English walnut halves   14
Hazelnuts (also called filberts)12
Macadamia nuts12
Medium-sized Brazil nuts8

Selecting nutritious nuts

All nuts provide health advantages, such as plant fiber and protein, although they vary in terms of certain micronutrients.

Micro nutrients are widely dispersed in food, according to Peart. To receive a diversity of nutrients, choose a variety of nuts rather than usually the same ones.

Find out a few advantages of these popular nuts.

Peanuts and peanut butter

Peanuts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have the highest protein content of any nut recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are also loaded with magnesium, fiber, and niacin. Certain industrially produced peanuts, especially those in the snack aisle, maybe salted and oil-roasted, which are less healthful. As an alternative, pick unsalted, dry-roasted, and/or raw peanuts from the baking aisle.

The same heart-healthy properties are present in both whole peanuts and peanut butter, but when selecting peanut butter, you should take the source into account.

Peart explains that manufacturers occasionally add partially hydrogenated lipids, salt, and sugar to peanut butter to improve the flavor and make it spreadable. Natural peanut butter, which is merely ground nuts, is the best option.

Peart advises giving natural peanut butter a short swirl when you get it home and then storing it upside down in the refrigerator because the fat tends to separate on the store shelf. A serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, and it should be consumed in moderation, just like nuts.

Over nonfat frozen yogurt and spread on celery sticks, for example, peanuts make a fantastic topping for healthy snacking. This adaptable spicy peanut sauce, which goes well with grilled chicken, potstickers, spring rolls, or sautéed vegetables, can also be made using peanut butter.

Walnuts

A great source of polyunsaturated fat is walnuts (a healthy fat). They contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids as well. Triglycerides are a form of blood fat, and omega-3 fatty acids efficiently lower them. They are also associated with a lower risk of heart disease. A potent antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which is 2.5 grams in one serving of walnuts, is also present.

In addition to adding flavor to baked goods and sides like these walnut zucchini potato pancakes, walnuts are a terrific complement to a spinach salad.

Almonds

Calcium can be found in almonds. Around 80 milligrams of calcium, or 8% of your daily required intake, can be found in one ounce of almonds. Although calcium is well known for its part in the development of sturdy bones and teeth, it also helps to control your heartbeat.

At 6 grams of protein per ounce, or almost the same as one egg, almonds are also a source of protein.

By incorporating almonds into yogurt as a crunchy treat, you can increase your intake of almonds. Or, slice them up and use them in your recipe for zucchini or banana bread. Almond milk is not a big source of protein, but you may use almond butter to give your favorite smoothie some nutty protein.

Cashews

Cashews, according to the USDA, are a great source of magnesium and copper. In addition, they are rich in manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins B6 and K.

The best way to improve your favorite stir-fry recipe is to add cashews. Alternatively, you can blend them in a food processor to add to vegan ricotta “cheese” (a non-dairy cheese substitute) for this lasagna with roasted vegetables.

Pecans

Manganese, a mineral that is important for heart health, metabolism, and other processes, is abundant in pecans. Around 60% of your daily necessary manganese intake can be found in one serving of pecans. Also abundant in them is vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.

In addition to being a common component of baked products like banana bread, pecans can be used to coat salmon or chicken in place of bread crumbs. Also, you can cut them up and combine them with oatmeal to make delectable and nutritious pancakes and waffles.

Pistachios

Pistachios provide 6 grams of protein per ounce, similar to almonds. In particular, lutein and zeaxanthin, the antioxidants that give them their green color, are abundant in them.

Try combining chopped or minced pistachios with nonfat vanilla pudding. Or attempt this salad of quinoa, orange, and pistachios.

Brazilian nut

Selenium, a potent antioxidant that supports healthy thyroid function and lowers inflammation, may be found in abundance in Brazil nuts. We only require a minimal amount of selenium, despite its importance.

If you aren’t taking a selenium supplement, eat three Brazil nuts each day to meet your selenium requirements.

Don’t consume more than five Brazil nuts each day. Also, Peart emphasizes that you shouldn’t take a selenium supplement if your diet contains Brazil nuts.

How to increase your intake of nuts

Peart advises staying away from pre-made trail mixes that feature candied, dried fruit or additional salt if you’re looking for a quick snack (like cranberries that have added sugar). Also, you should avoid the ones that are prepared in tropical oils.

or create a unique trail mix on your own. Peart advises snack-sized baggies of dried fruit without added sugar, whole-wheat Chex®, pretzel pieces, raisins, and dates. A few dark chocolate chips might be added for a little balanced sweetness.

Peart advises keeping in mind that including nuts in your diet is only one of many dietary tactics designed to lower your risk of heart disease, regardless of how you choose to consume them.

A high-fiber diet full of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) is the best method to promote heart health, according to Peart. “For maximum heart-health benefits, combine that with a variety of fruits, veggies, and calcium-rich dairy products each day. The risk of coronary heart disease is significantly decreased by a heart-healthy diet and frequent exercise.

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