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Healthy Nuts

If you’re not NUTZ about nuts, you should be! 

Nuts are one of my absolute go-to snacks. Nuts are added to all sorts of foods, from cereals to desserts.  Filled with healthy fats, protein, minerals, and antioxidants, you just can’t go wrong with this bite size treat. Now, although you may not be able to go “wrong”, you could go more RIGHT.  Some nuts are more nutrient dense than others. Let’s see how you can make this inexpensive, portable, east to store, and filling snack even better for your health by choosing the RIGHT ones!

Q: Why are nuts so healthy?

A: They’re one of the few foods that are high in Protein, Healthy Fats, and Fiber.  Plus, they have little to no sugar and their carbohydrate content is basically negated by the amount of Fiber and Protein. And don’t forget, they are loaded with minerals and antioxidants that are hard to get from other foods, so they are a perfect addition to any nutritional lifestyle. 

Q: But they are high in calories, is that an issue?

A: No. Nuts have higher calories because they have higher amounts of healthy fat.  Remember, one gram of fat has 9 calories, compared to 4 calories from Protein or Carbs. The calories from nuts are mostly from their healthy fat, which is also filling, which satisfies your hunger.  In addition, the Protein and Fiber in nuts keeps your blood sugar levels from fluctuating, keeping you from overeating.  

Q: How do you determine the best/healthiest nuts?

A: You look at how many different nutrients are found in the nut, the amount of them (concentration), then compare that to the amount of healthy fat, protein and number of calories. You also look at which have the least amount of toxins.  Remember, these nuts are actually seeds, and all seeds have anti-nutrients to protect themselves and they can be toxic to the body at high concentrations. 

Q: Which are your top 3 nuts?

A: (1) Almonds – Very high in fiber and minerals, research shows they lower blood sugar (as much as 30%), they are most resilient to rancidity/spoiling, least expensive. (2) Walnuts – Have the most antioxidants of all nuts, ¼ cup provides 100% of plant based Omega 3’s, shown to increase HDL (healthy cholesterol) (3) Pecans – rich in polyphenols, flavonoids (powerful antioxidants), vitamin/mineral powerhouses, great source of Vitamin E. It is key to eat a variety of nuts rather than just one for optimal health benefits. 

Q: What about peanuts, your dad LOVES his peanuts?

A: Um, well..peanuts are actually beans (legumes).  They do not have a hard shell and they grow underground, which isn’t good.  This moist, humid, heat environment can make them susceptible to a fungus called Aflatoxin.  They are also high in lectins, which are sticky proteins that bind to sugars in cells.  They also have a high amount of Omega 6, which can be inflammatory when the ratio of Omega 3:6 is thrown off. Sorry dad, it’s not making my top 3..or even 5!   

Q: But your Dad is 82, super active, sharp as a thumbnail, and has more of a social life than you do?

A: Good point, Peanuts may not be so bad…for him.  Interestingly, my dad grew up as a peanut farmer, so he’s been eating peanuts since he was a young kid.  When introducing new nuts to the body in higher concentrations, you can develop an inflammatory response. I started eating lots of Almonds and Almond Milk, when I took a food sensitivity test, it showed a slight inflammatory response.  When the body has never seen a food before, good or bad, and all of a sudden it gets a lot of it, it will naturally be thrown off balance.  With my dad, he’s been eating since he was young, it just may be the perfect nut for him

Q: Any “nutty” parting thoughts?

A: Nuts are a great snack to “tie you over”.  They will be healthy and filling.  But keep it in check, they are high in calories.  1-2 handfuls per day is enough. Having more will cause you to eat more calories and throw off the balance of Omegas in your body.  If you buy nuts, choose raw or dry roasted, roasting is a way companies will use to take cheaper, older nuts and sell them.  Store in a cool, dry place, nuts can get rancid quickly when exposed to light, heat, air, and moisture.