Page 1 of 2We’re not nuts for saying it – a daily dose of nuts is a healthy way of snacking. Ditch the guilt and dig in. The only caution, keep it to about a handful.
Nuts have had a long-time bad rap as a high calorie, indulgent food that we should decline whenever tempted. True, nuts get more than half of their calories from fat. But there’s more to it than that. We’ve got three reasons to fit nuts into healthy living: (1) Eating plenty of nuts could actually lower the risk of heart disease, particularly for women. (2) Nuts are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. (3) Eating nuts in reasonable portions can also be a good way to maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight!
Healthy for Your Heart
Nuts are rich in an amino acid that could be linked to heart benefits. This amino acid, called arginine, helps relax blood vessels, which can reduce the danger of coronary artery disease. A Harvard School of Public Health study showed that women who ate nuts regularly had a 32% lower risk of having a non-fatal heart attack compared to women who avoided nuts.
How can a high fat food such as nuts be good for the heart? The biggest danger to the heart and arteries comes from saturated fats, found mostly in meat and high-fat dairy products. The fat in most nuts is unsaturated, the "friendlier" kind of fat that lowers LDLs, the so-called bad cholesterol. Cashews, almonds, and peanuts are full of monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats similar to oils found in fish such as salmon.
Nuts are nutritious too. In the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, nuts are included with the protein-rich foods in the meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans category. A one-third cup of nuts provides about five grams of protein and is equivalent to one ounce of lean meat. Almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts are particularly high in protein.
Nuts are also packed with essential vitamins such as A and E, and minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. And their high fiber content helps lower cholesterol, too. Continued ›