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A Second Look at Nuts

A Second Look at Nuts

While nuts are high in fat, nuts contain mostly mono and polyunsaturated fats -- fats with a heart-friendly reputation.

Nuts Protective Effect

One study states that those who ate nuts five or more times a week (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts or peanuts) were half as likely to have a heart attack or suffer from heart disease as people who rarely or never at nuts.

This protective effect may be attributed to the healthy fat profile of nuts, or it may be the vitamin E and fiber found in nuts, both of which can help stave off heart disease.

Nuts in jarsSubstituting nuts for other snack foods proved beneficial in adults with high blood cholesterol: Their LDL cholesterol (bad) lowered.

There isn't much difference in fat content between raw and dry-roasted or oil roasted nuts, though oil-roasted ones do have more fat.

Noteable notes: If you need to watch your salt intake, do choose unsalted nuts. Look for nuts that are organic and raw for optimum nutrition (with the exception of peanuts).

Nutrition Bonus:

Nuts are rich in protein and a host of other nutrients such as folate, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium.

Quell Hunger Pains

Another bonus: Nuts are so dense with nutrients they quell hunger pangs with fewer calories compared to other snack foods that provide calories but minimal nutrition.

Almonds and pecans are at their peak in fall, so grab some when you're looking for a healthy snack. High-protein almonds are low in carbs, and pecans are loaded with zinc and thiamin. Best of all, both nuts are great sources of fiber and heart-healthy fats. Because nuts do contain a lot of calories, stick with the in-the-shell variety if possible. Having to remove the shells means you won't overindulge when the munchies come calling.

Grab a handful of nuts, about one ounce, for your nutritious afternoon snack. Nuts have a "good fat" that can help you feel more satisfied after eating, preventing you from snacking on more fattening foods.

A Byte of Nut History

  • The name "Pakan" or "pecan" is an Algonquin Indian word used to describe "all nuts requiring a stone to crack".
  • In 1836, while on a pre-Alamo expedition, Jim Bowie and his men became surrounded by the Mexican army south of San Antonio. While the Texans laid low under a grove of pecan trees, cannon shots crashed through the branches "raining a shower of nuts down on us ... I saw men picking them up and eating them with as little apparent concern as if they were being shaken down by a norther."
  • The culinary delights of the pecan nut were noted by eighteenth century historian Le Page du Pratz when he praised the pecan and its use in "the praline... sugar cakes or candies filled with ... pecan kernels ... and one of the delicacies of New Orleans."

Sources: Nurses' Health Study at Brigham, Women's Hospital in boston, Harvard School of Public Health, Mercola.

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