Nuts about Nuts: The Healthful Benefits of These Versatile Snacks
Why are we so crazy about nuts? Of course, peanut butter is one reason, but these unassuming gems hold some powerful secrets.
Peanut butter has long been a favorite among kids and adults alike, but there are so many other reasons to like nuts. Here are a few facts that may have you even more nutty about this important addition to the protein food group.
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This may seem ridiculously basic, but most people actually don’t know if nuts are fruits or vegetables or some sort of meat hybrid. It may surprise you to learn that people don’t exactly agree on what precisely nuts are. Some believe nuts are fruits and others believe they’re in a class all to themselves. The truth is that different nuts have different classifications. Almonds, for instance, are tree nuts, while peanuts are legumes. It gets messy, but if you have a nut allergy, stay away from all of them.
Don’t nuts have a whole bunch of protein in them?
An ounce of cashews has about 5 grams of protein and an ounce of peanuts has about 7 grams of protein. That’s about the same as an ounce of beef. And it’s a whole lot easier to carry around a handful of nuts than it is to carry around a hamburger patty.
So nuts are healthy! Does that mean I can eat as many as I want?
There’s no better way to ruin a healthy food choice than by eating too much of a healthy food choice. Nuts are a great source of protein and fat, but they also have quite a few calories. A cup of almonds, for instance, is roughly 530 calories. That’s about one-quarter of the recommended dietary intake for the average man. On the other hand, you can have an entire cup of strawberries, and it will only be approximately 47 calories.
Oh. So how many nuts should I eat?
If you’re looking to stay within average dietary guidelines, it’s best to have about an ounce of nuts as a snack once a day.
Which nuts are best?
That depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a breakdown of the type of nut you’ll want to eat depending on your goals:
If your goal is to lose weight—All nuts are about the same in terms of calories, but preparation can make or break a diet along with how many nuts you eat. Make sure the nuts you’re eating are raw or dry roasted in salt— stay away from artificial flavorings and (even though they’re absolutely delicious) honey roasted nuts, which have added sugar and unnecessary carbs.
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If you want to help your heart—Meet the almond, a nut that contains Alpha-lipoic acid or, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Alpha-lipoic acid helps lower cholesterol and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Plus, studies show that ALA helps lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
If you want to support your brain—Hello, peanuts! Peanuts are high in folate, a great mineral for brain development.
If you want to protect against disease—Almonds have the most calcium of any nut, which helps prevent bone deterioration. However, they’re also high in fiber and vitamin E, both valuable in combating inflammation.
Now you know why we’re all nuts about nuts—they’re powerful, transportable, delicious little wonders.
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