What is the nutrition in nuts? Incorporating a variety of nuts into your diet provides a great source of protein as well as numerous other nutritional and health benefits. Nuts are excellent sources of protein, fiber, minerals, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, vitamin E and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Does anyone remember visiting family and friend’s homes during the holiday season and seeing those daunting bowls of “mixed” nuts with the nut cracker not far away? I know I was never really sure exactly what they were, or if they were simply a decoration. It didn’t seem that people actually ate them.
As it turns out one of the most unexpected nutritional discoveries of the 1990s was that the frequent eating of nuts dramatically improves your health. In particular, nut eating greatly lowers the risk of heart disease. Researchers reported that people eating nuts daily had up to 60% fewer heart attacks than those who ate nuts less than once per month. Prior to the publication of these results, nutritional advice had usually been to minimize nut consumption on the grounds that they were a “fatty” food.
Consuming nuts lowers the risk of heart disease, lowers “LDL” (bad) cholesterol, and aids in reducing body fat and managing body composition. Consuming a small quantity of nuts between or prior to meals helps reduce hunger and increases the feeling of satiety, thus reducing the incidence of over eating.
So what are the healthiest nuts to consume and why?
What are the Top 4 Healthiest Nuts to Consume?
The healthiest nuts are almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews. What is the nutritional value and health benefits of these nuts?
Almonds are a rich source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, vitamin E (an anti-oxidant) and selenium. Containing high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats, almonds help in reducing cholesterol levels and improving cardiovascular health.
Walnuts are highly revered for being a great source of omega-3 essential fatty aids. These fatty acids have been shown to yield numerous health benefits: protecting the heart, improving cognitive function, and reducing inflammatory effects of asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Walnuts contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound that provides cancer-fighting and immune system boosting properties.
Pecans contain an abundance of nutrients (over 19 minerals and vitamins) including folic acid, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B and zinc. Like almonds and walnuts, pecans provide heart-healthy properties by reducing total blood cholesterol, reduce LDL cholesterol, and create clearer arterial flow
Cashews are rich in magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and biotin. Cashews contain the lowest percentage of fats compared to most nuts and provide high levels of oleic acid (about 50% of the total fat in cashews), the same fat found in olive oil.
Other notable nuts that provide nutritional benefits and healthy sources of fats: Brazil nuts, (also loaded with selenium), Filberts (hazelnuts), Peanuts, Chestnuts, Pine nuts, Pistachios and Macadamias.
Let’s not forget Peanut Butter, with enviable amounts of protein, fat, and fiber to help fill you up, and keep you full longer. All this adds up to an almost perfect snack for dieters to fight cravings and stay on track.
How many nuts should I eat?
According to the majority of dietary studies approximately one ounce is the minimal amount needed to provide significant nutrition and health benefits. TIP: One ounce is about a small palm full.
TIP to get nutrition from nuts every day:
Keep some nuts in your car or day pack as a nutritional snack when unexpected delays come up.
What is the best way to store nuts?
Nuts contain a lot of oil and can become rancid if not stored properly. Storing them properly, however, is easy. When stored in a container in the refrigerator or freezer, nuts may stay fresh enough to eat for as long as 2 years. Let shelled nuts dry first for a few days, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Store other nuts in plastic freezer bags so they don’t pick up odors. When you take them out, taste first, then dry roast them in a coated skillet for a few minutes – delicious. I store all my nuts, packaged separately, in one large ziploc in the back of the freezer. It works great.
Click here if you enjoy the nutrition of nuts in your diet
Enjoy these tasty recipes and experience the nutritional value of nuts:
Introducing nuts into your diet can be effortless and will add exciting flavor and textures to your recipes and meals. Add nuts to cereals, baked items like muffins and breads, dairy items like yogurt and cottage cheese, chopped an added to salads or pasta, or just as in-between meal snacks.
Pineapple Banana Nut bread – It makes two loaves and freezes well.
3 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1 c. nuts, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. mashed bananas (ripe)
1 (8 oz.) can pineapple, crushed & drained
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten well
1 1/2 c. oil
Combine dry ingredients, stir in nuts, set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and add to dry mixture, stirring just until batter is moist. Spoon into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Freezes well.
Pasta salad with walnuts and feta cheese – You will be surprised at how delicious this is.
- 1/2 pound whole-wheat fusilli or other spiral shaped pasta
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta to taste. Drain and rise the pasta with cold water. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Toast the walnuts over a medium-high flame in a saute pan for about 2 minutes. Let the walnuts cool, then chop them coarsely.
In a large bowl, toss together the chilled pasta, chopped walnuts, feta cheese, onion, and spinach.
In a small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard. Pour the dressing over the mixed salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper taste.
Time to get cracking!
|Nutrients in 1 Ounce (28 grams) of Shelled Tree Nuts and Peanuts|
per 1 oz./
|Almonds||20 – 24||160||6||14||1||9||3|
|Brazil nuts||6 – 8||190||4||19||5||7||7|
|Cashews||16 – 18||160||4||13||3||8||2|
|Hazelnuts||18 – 20||180||4||17||1.5||13||2|
|Macadamias||10 – 12||200||2||22||3||17||0.5|
|Pecans||18 – 20
|Pistachios||45 – 47||160||6||13||1.5||7||4|
|Source: Adapted from the International Tree Nut Council Research and Education|