Monday, February 6, 2012

Go Nuts For Your Health!

Nuts are great.

We just eat them the wrong way!

Most of the time we have them roasted and salted, or even extra salted! They, then, lose their virtues and become harmful.
The best way to ensure you’re getting the most out of nuts is to eat them raw!

We will discuss the benefits of nuts as well as how you can include them in your diet.

BENEFITS

Nuts are a very good source of vitamins, minerals and the famous omega-3 fatty acid. In fact they provide iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc. They also contain vitamin E and B12 (folic acid). They are naturally cholesterol free and low in sodium. So can you imagine what a great food they are?

If you still can’t, then let’s continue…

Scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces (or 45g or a handful and a half) per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help lower the risk of heart disease. In fact, nuts are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats (the good fats) such as omega-3 which help reduce LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increase the HDL-cholesterol (the good one!). According to the FDA, only almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts are eligible for this claim.

This food group is also recommended in the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to stop hypertension). 4 to 5 servings a week are recommended in order to help reduce blood pressure.

Their content in vitamin E, selenium and folic acid, as well as phenolic compounds vegetable fibers and phytoestrogens, all powerful antioxidants, may help reduce some types of cancer.

Now you’re probably thinking “Nuts are rich in fat so, even if raw, I shouldn’t have them while dieting”. Well, this is not true! Studies suggest that including peanuts and tree nuts in your diet may improve compliance to the diet and eventually weight loss. This is probably due to the satiating effect of nuts. But of course, the quantities should be specified by your dietitian!

A DIET RICH IN NUTS

One of the most asked questions in a clinic is: “What can I snack on?” Now you’ve got your answer. A handful of raw nuts every day can replace chips while watching television.

You can also include a sprinkle of nuts in your salads or even in some recipes. Chinese food is the best example. Their recipes always contain almonds, cashew or pine nuts.

And if you’re craving roasted ones, you can always use the microwave and in 5 minutes have your own roasted healthy nuts.

WHAT IS A HANDFUL OF NUTS?

A handful of nuts contain 160 calories.

Nut
Equivalent to 1 handful
Almonds
20-24
Cashew
16-18
Hazelnut
16-18
Macademia
8-10
Peanuts
26
Pecans
14-16 halves
Pine nuts
150-157
Pistachios
45-47
Walnuts
11-12 halves

I guess now a lot of you, including my own brother, will try not to put the nuts aside while eating. And maybe you will start liking them for their virtues. 

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