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Does going NUTS with nuts mean you’ll get fat or you’ll get fit?

Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Chestnuts, Hazels, Macadamia Nuts, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, etc. These are all nuts we are familiar with and most of us can’t just stop at a handful! However, stopping at a moderate amount ensures your health. Too many can add to weight gain and unwanted fat. So, whether or not you are looking to incorporate more fats into your diet or just amp up your caloric intake, nuts are a great “on the run” snack! The trick is to eat just enough.

Most of us are aware that nuts are high in fat and these fats are generally healthy, naturally occurring fats. They are also high in protein and for the most part, unprocessed. The BEST types of nuts to eat are raw nuts, they are completely unprocessed and that is ALWAYS the best choice! However, lightly salted or roasted nuts may be what you prefer. Make the choice that is right for you. The nuts with the honey/candy coating count but you will need to take into account the extra calories and carbs that add up.

Depending on your objective and on your nutritional plan, you may be looking to amp up your protein intake, if this particular case, you may choose peanuts. Looking for more magnesium? Try almonds! Read my excerpts on each nut and choose which is best for you!!

Peanuts are the highest in protein of all the above listed nuts with 24g protein per 100g of nuts. Peanuts are a heart healthy nut containing vitamin E, niacin and folate. As well as being high in mono saturated fats peanuts are a good source of arginine, an amino acid that can enhance circulation to muscles during workouts. Also, these little legumes are packed with an antioxidant punch that is equal to some types of fruits! ¼ cup equals a little over 200 calories.

Almonds seem to be a fad food out there. Lots of diets are including almonds as a suggested food, but a variety of nuts can be beneficial in more ways. They are included in many diets since they are higher in protein than most other nuts.  In fact, served raw, almonds are equal carbohydrates to proteins. However, almonds have some other great qualities I’d like to mention. They are high in monounsaturated  fats (same healthy fat as found in olive oil) (the fat in these nuts and olive oil is monounsaturated fats rather than monosaturated)these fats can help lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. Another healthy mineral found plentiful in almonds Is magnesium. Magnesium is beneficial to circulation. It increases blood flow and promotes healthy flow of oxygen to the tissues of the body. Again ¼ cup equals about 200 calories.

Cashews are a tasty treat for many of us. These nuts hold the lowest fat content of nearly all nuts. In fact 75% of the fats contained in these nuts are unsaturated fatty acids! Yet, another heart healthy food!  Cashews contain a good deal of magnesium (great for bone health as 75% of magnesium found in our bodies is in our bones) as well as copper. Cashews are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates. These are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. If you are someone with existing and/or untreated kidney or gallbladder problems, you may want to avoid eating cashews. ¼ cup is about 195 calories.

Walnuts are one of my personal favorites. These are fantastic on salads or even chopped in a sandwich! Walnuts contain essential fats and are yet another heart healthy food. Walnuts contain a high concentration of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to walnuts. Omega-3s benefit the cardiovascular system by helping to prevent erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries (which is the proximate cause of most heart attacks), and improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to potentially harmful (LDL) cholesterol. Those of you who are not familiar, Omega-3s also reduce inflammation, which is a key component in the processes that turn cholesterol into artery-clogging plaques. These are great reasons to include walnuts into your week! ¼ cup is about 180 calories.

Pistachios are a delightful treat and one of the more expensive nuts. Pistachios are known for a good source of vitamin B6 (aids protein metabolism and absorption) and thiamine (enhances energy and promotes normal appetite). These nuts also have a relatively low calorie value when compared to other nuts and are cholesterol free, high in fibre and low in saturated fat. Pistachios also contain antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals. These plant nutrients have been associated with a decreased risk for developing chronic diseases, like cancer. ¼ cup is about 160 calories.

Macadamia nuts are yummy. One of the highest fat containing nuts, only twelve macadamia nuts count as one serving (30 g). Unfortunately, this means don’t go hog wild and you shouldn’t  eat more than three servings of macadamia nuts per week, making sure that you substitute other fatty foods with these nuts. ¼ cup is about 200 calories.

Brazil nuts are a little more uncommon and sometimes found unshelled in the vegetable department of your local grocery store.  Brazil nuts are particularly healthy due to their high selenium content. Selenium is a mineral known to protect the body from cancer and Brazil nuts are amoung the best food source of selenium. Serving as a complete protein, unlike the proteins in most plant products, Brazil nuts’ proteins contain all the necessary amino acids to foster optimal growth in humans (just like  proteins from animal products do). When eaten in moderate amounts, these contain again a very healthy fat. ¼ cup is about 190 calories.

In conclusion, we find that variety and ‘everything in moderation’ is a rule you can apply to the use of nuts. Personally, I use a variety of mixed nuts in my weekly diet plan. I tend to go for raw nuts in salads and just by the handful. Sometimes they are a tasty treat to top a cooked meal, too! Enjoy!

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