Nuts for Healthy Eating

For some reason, many people choose to avoid nuts because of the high calorie/fat myth. Oh wait, it’s not a myth – they really are high in calories and fat! But that’s not it, they are also little nutrient powerhouses that deliver a host of vitamins and other health benefits, and should definitely be incorporated into all health-conscious diets. Considered one of the best vegetarian sources of protein on the planet, nuts are necessary for those who don’t consume meat or dairy. They also have a high fiber content and are full of antioxidants. As for fat, it’s all good Omega-3 fatty acids that actually help lower your cholesterol levels. Just a few years ago the FDA recommended these seven types of nuts for their suggested ability to reduce the risk of heart disease: Almonds Almonds offer a ton of healthy ingredients, including Vitamin E, magnesium, flavonoids (antioxidant component), and copper. A quarter-cup of almonds provides about four grams of fiber and nearly 8 grams of protein – impressive! If you have any kidney problems, almonds should be avoided and replaced with another type of nut.  Try almond butter as healthier alternative to peanut butter on whole wheat bread or on a banana as a filling snack. Pine Nuts Actually a seed from the pine tree, these nuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, a vital nutrient for those who want to keep their hearts healthy. They also contain protein and thiamine, and taste great on salads or added to main dishes. Pecans Full of protein and fiber, pecans are also a good source of zinc, thiamine, and monounsaturated fats. Since they are naturally sodium-free, pecans are a good addition to cholesterol lowering diets. Walnuts Who doesn’t love cracking open walnuts? They also provide some great health benefits, including Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid, both which are good for the heart and vascular system. Other essential nutrients include B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, copper, and iron. Hazelnuts Rich in calcium, hazelnuts are a perfect addition to a non-dairy diet, and also offer a good source of monounsaturated fat for those who need to keep their cholesterol levels in check. They are a perfect snack for sweet-tooths who want to cut down on other over-indulgent treats. Pistachios Last on the list of FDA-approved nuts is the pistachio. Full of copper, phosphorus, potassium, B6, and magnesium, the pistachio is a great addition to round out a healthy diet. They also contain high amounts of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Although these types of nuts are good for you, you don’t want to overindulge. One to two ounces of nuts per day should be your goal. If you want to eyeball it - that's about a handful of nuts.  Try to incorporate a different type into each of your meals to gain all the spectacular health benefits!