Many weight-conscious people shudder at the idea of nuts as part of a healthy diet. The key to including the great taste of nuts in a healthy diet without overdoing the fat and calories is portion control.
Studies over the years have shown that nuts contain monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, protein, fibre, and are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals which can benefit your health.
They are a powerhouse of good nutrition that can also dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and play an important role in lowering "bad" and raising "good" cholesterol levels. In addition, they can help dilate blood vessels and prevent hardening of the arteries.
In the Nurses Health Study, which followed 86,016 nurses for 14 years, found those who ate 5 ounces or more of nuts per week reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 35%. The researchers also noted that the nut-eaters tended to weigh less than the nurses who did not eat nuts.
To find a food that is delicious, nutritious and filling is a dieter's dream come true. Dieters who eat nuts tend to stick to their diets because the fat and fiber content of nuts makes them very filling. As a result, they are not as hungry and ultimately eat less.
Several studies have found that eating small amounts of nuts helps dieters lose weight. One psychological benefit noted in a study done by Pennsylvania State researchers was that dieters did not feel like they were dieting when nuts were allowed in their eating plans -- which helped them stay on their diets longer.
Nuts might be considered health food, but that's not a license to overindulge. When you add nuts to your diet, you add calories along with the health benefits. So it's important to decrease calories from other sources to avoid weight gain.
A one-ounce serving of nuts contains between 160 and 200 calories, most of which come from the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Nuts are also very high in dietary fiber, and are one of the best plant sources of protein.
Most nuts are consumed on their own, by the handful, which can be dangerous. This is the kind of food that often leads to "eating amnesia" --- hand to mouth without much thought -- and can easily lead to consuming lots of extra calories.
Some ways to add healthy "nut" fat to your diet:
Top hot or cold cereal with nuts for a nourishing breakfast.
Sprinkle almonds on top of yogurt.
Add peanuts to nonfat frozen yogurt.
Use fat-free salad dressing and add nuts to your salads.
Use nuts to replace croutons in salads or soups.
Bring pasta to life by sprinkling it with chopped nuts.
Remember that slivered almonds do wonders with everything from chicken to desserts.
Add nuts to bread, pancakes, waffles, or muffins.
Mix nuts into lite cream cheese for a delicious spread.
Add nuts to popcorn for a tasty snack.
Add great flavor to steamed veggies with a handful of nuts.
Toast nuts to enhance the flavor. Bake for 5-10 minutes in a 350-degree oven
Eating as little as one ounce of nuts per day can provide you with all the health benefits.