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Are Nuts Healthy?

With their high fat and calorie content, you may be wondering whether nuts are healthy to eat?

Are you nuts?

Nuts are everywhere these days. From the almond milk in your coffee to the pistachios atop your salad, you almost cannot escape their presence. Should they be part of a healthy diet?

A Handful a Day:

Researchers are finding more and more evidence to suggest that nuts are not only healthy, but may actually help you live longer! According to a comprehensive review in BMC Medicine, daily nut intake is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality from respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes. The publication found that people who ate a handful of nuts each day (around 20 grams or 1/4 of a cup) may be 22% less likely to die prematurely than individuals who did not! High levels of polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamins, and fiber contribute to improved heart health and lower bad cholesterol.

Will they make me gain weight?

Nuts may be healthy, but will eating them cause you to gain weight? After all, even small quantities of nuts are high in calories and fat. Happily (since we love nuts!), studies have found that eating nuts regularly, even daily, does not promote weight gain. In fact, many studies have found that eating nuts can actually boost weight loss. One study found that people who were told to eat peanuts every day as a snack, naturally ate fewer calories later in the day. Researchers think this is because nuts promote feelings of fullness for longer, due to the high levels of fat and protein stimulating the production of appetite-regulation hormones. This is great news for those of us who want to naturally, easily maintain or lose weight!

Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite nuts.

Some favorite nuts to munch:

Almonds

 Almonds are full of healthy fats. The fat, fiber, and magnesium found in almonds can help people control their blood sugar. The magnesium can also help those with blood pressure issues lower their risk of hypertension.

 Walnuts

 If you’re a vegetarian or someone who doesn’t eat much seafood, walnuts are a perfect source of the omega-3 fatty acids that you hear so much about. These omega-3 fats can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease while helping you control your appetite.

 Pistachios

 Have you ever passed up a bag of pistachios on the store shelves because of the work required to break into them? Next time, give them a try! Pistachios have a high number of antioxidants that help reduce the risk of various diseases and cancer. Pistachios are also lower in calories than other nuts. Working hard to crack open each nuts might help you stop eating when you feel satisfied, rather than eating mindlessly.

 Macadamia Nuts

 Macadamia nuts are a popular nut used in various desserts because of their rich taste. Luckily, they are also a healthy option! Macadamia nuts have been found to reduce the risk of various diseases under the umbrella of metabolic syndrome. The tocotrienols found in macadamia nuts can also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases by boosting your brain health.

How to eat them

Confused about how to work nuts into your diet? Nuts can be eaten directly out of the bag as a snack or mixed with dried fruit to make trail mix. Try sprinkling crushed nuts on salads or oatmeal. Nuts are also delicious crushed into butter (make sure to choose butters without added sugar or oil). Take your taste buds for a whirl and move beyond the standard peanut butter. Try out almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter: all perfect on a slice of whole-wheat toast or as a dipper for fruit like apples and bananas.

Need some ideas for incorporating nuts? Try this Very Berry Smoothie recipe with slivered almonds on top or this Apple Pie Crockpot Oatmeal topped with crushed walnuts.

Nuts are Healthy! But some quick notes…

If one handful per day is healthy, should I try to many handfuls of nuts? Decidedly not. Your body needs a whole range of vitamins and nutrients, and a healthy diet includes lots of different types of foods. As with most things in life, moderation is advised.

And of course, some people are allergic to peanuts or other nuts. Never eat something to which you have an allergy, even if it’s healthy!

Let us know your favorite nuts in the comments!