Yesterday was National “Grab Some Nuts” Day, and it seems appropriate to highlight some of the benefits of one of the most delicious nutritional powerhouses out there. Nuts are a crunchy, delicious, and satisfying source of healthy fats with countless health perks. Although there are several different kinds of nuts, almost every type contains heaps of nutrition concentrated into such a small size, making this superfood a perfect addition to your diet.
So what about nuts makes them so good for us? These tiny and tasty natural wonders are rich in unsaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, and antioxidant phytochemicals, so they play a large role in reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels, raising “good” cholesterol levels, and improving the health of the arteries. In fact, the FDA is currently reviewing a proposal that would allow foods containing nuts to have a label that states, “Diets containing one ounce of nuts per day can reduce your risk of heart disease”, according to Web MD. Nuts are also packed with satiating protein and fiber along with healthy fats, therefore making them an ideal food to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle.
Although nuts provide numerous health benefits, it can be very easy to exceed the recommended serving size of nuts and nut butters, as they are both very concentrated in fat and calories. Therefore, it is especially important to use portion control and moderation when enjoying these foods. The serving size of nuts is 1 ounce or ¼ cup, or about a handful, which can range from about 160-200 calories, 4-7 grams of protein, and 13-21 grams of healthy fat. One ounce or a handful of nuts can vary greatly depending on the type of nut: 14 walnut halves, 16 to 18 cashews, 20 to 24 almonds, 28 peanuts, and 40 to 45 pistachios. The serving size for nut butter is 2 tablespoons, which is a little more than an ounce and roughly the size of a ping-pong ball, ranging from about 180-200 calories, 6-7 grams of protein, and 14-19 grams of healthy fat.
Some other great perks about nuts are that they are versatile, portable, and ridiculously easy to incorporate into your diet. Here are just a few everyday foods you can enjoy with a serving of nuts or nut butter to reap their heart-healthy benefits and long-lasting supply of fuel:
- Dry cereal and oatmeal
- Yogurt and frozen yogurt
- Pancake, waffle, muffin, or any other baked good batter
- Cooked veggies
- Couscous and quinoa
- Trail mix
So now that you know about this nutritional power-packed superfood, go out and grab some nuts!
Photo Credit: Emily Carlo