Despite the incredible amount of marketing I’ve seen from the almond board, the pistachio health institute, the California walnut people, and any other nut promoters out there, I still feel like nuts get a bad rap. Whenever I mention nuts as a snack or protein source, people always seem surprised, “I thought nuts were bad! You mean can eat them?”
It’s true that nuts have lots of fat, but their fat is almost all unsaturated (AKA Heart Healthy), and they have a bit of protein as a bonus. Nuts are also full of vitamin E, fiber, and antioxidants, so YES, ABSOLUTELY – it’s good to eat nuts!
Since it’s American Heart Month, lets look at some facts about nuts:
Several major studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death, or heart disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with nuts to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.”
A 2011 study published in the journal Metabolism, showed incorporating almonds into a heart healthy diet that was low in saturated fat and cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity (that means better blood sugar) and cholesterol levels, in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The 2013 PREDIMED Trial showed that participants who ate Mediterranean diets supplemented with nuts had small waist circumference measurements, and better cholesterol profiles after one year on the diets.
Research on pistachios published in the FASEB Journal showed that eating just one serving of pistachios per day in snack form significantly can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol in healthy individuals.
I could go on, and no offense to all of the other wonderful nuts (and peanuts which are actually a legume), but I think these few studies speak for themselves. Nuts are good for us! BUT, as all of my clients remind me when they look at me with surprised expressions – Nuts have lots of calories. So eat them in place of something else. Like chips. Or ice cream. Or cheese. That way, you’re not adding to your calorie count, just replacing it with something that’s way healthier.
So Mind Your Portions! Here are the facts on portions from Greatist (if you’re not familiar, check them out):