It’s not uncommon for chronic dieters to have an aversion to nuts. At close to 200 calories an ounce of walnuts, many diet plans have suggested avoiding nuts at all cost. (Maybe you remember the advice to fill up on cut vegetables and avoid the bowl of holiday nut mix?) But (thankfully) the “celery good, nuts bad” philosophy no longer has a place in healthy weight management. Love nuts? Then you’re in luck because you can accrue all sorts of nutritional benefits by making them a regular part of your diet. And, even better, due to the fiber, protein and healthy fats in nuts, they can keep hunger at bay a lot longer than the bag of chips you’ve been eyeing.
Not sure what nut to choose? Well, don’t sweat it because each and everyone of them has something to offer from a nutritional standpoint. So, pick a favorite and munch away. Want to know exactly what nutritional benefits you’ll be getting from the handful of nuts on your salad (or soup, or yogurt or…)? Then take a look at this list of nuts and nutrients:
Walnuts: This nut can offer omega-3 fatty acids – those of heart and brain health fame. An ounce of these beauties has 2 grams of fiber to keep you full, as well as small amounts of iron, calcium and potassium.
Pistachios: With an ounce of pistachios, you’ll get 3 grams of fiber and the same amount of potassium found in ½ a banana (which works out to about 8% of your daily requirement – not too shabby!).
Almonds: Of all the tree nuts, almond win the prize for the highest amounts of fiber, vitamin E, calcium, niacin and riboflavin. Add to that their great taste and it’s really no surprise that almonds are the most popular nut in the USA.
Brazil nuts: These nuts are famous for their selenium content, although they also join their fellow nuts in providing fiber and protein to your diet. (Just remember not to overdue it –you only need 2 a day!) These nuts also offer potassium, magnesium and zinc to name just a few nutrients in their profile.
Hazelnuts: An serving of hazelnuts can provide 90% of the RDI for manganese and 25% of you daily copper needs. Don’t forget that a serving of these nuts will also add 2 to 3 grams of fiber to your diet Even better, they taste great lightly roasted and tossed into a bowl of Greek yogurt with blueberries.
Pecans: These are definitely another winner in the taste category. Even better, pecans are full of fiber, protein, copper and manganese.
If helping keep you full while also providing important nutrients isn’t enough, here is a list of the other amazing benefits of eating nuts:
- Reduced heart disease
- Reduced risk of gallstones
- Reduced risk of diabetes in women
- Reduced cholesterol
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced visceral adiposity (the “bad” kind of fat)
- Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome
Still nervous about the calories? Well, then maybe this will help. There may be a relationship between nuts and weight loss. An eight-year study of over 50,000 women found that the intake of nuts was not associated with weight gain. In fact, the researchers went so far as to say that high nut consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of being overweight or obese. Score for nuts!
The take home message? Given that nuts have flavor and a wide range of nutrients, while helping to satisfy your appetite, there are some very good reasons to make nuts a regular part of your diet. So, if you’re looking for a convenient snack with a satisfying crunch but want to make sure you’re not sabotaging your weight management efforts, explore the nut aisle!