Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, brazil, pine, hazelnut. Unless you have a nut allergy, you’ve probably eaten at least half of these kinds of nuts. And it’s no wonder. Think about your favorite childhood lunch. Peanut butter and jelly perhaps? Favorite candy? Reeses? M&Ms? Whatchamacallit? What about dessert! Brownies with nuts in the frosting? Pecan praline? Macaroons? Peanut brittle? A spoonful of Nutella maybe? Don’t even get me started on cookies.
Nuts are so versatile they can pretty much fit into any food category. And for good reason! The high fat content really lends itself to creating a savory entrée, tantalizing appetizer, decadent dessert, and especially tempting snacks. Whether they’re served raw, roasted, salted, savory, sweet or covered in spices (or chocolate), nuts are a delicious option. But did you know that they’re healthy too?
I’m sure you’ve heard Mr. Peanut, (you know that creepy nut with the top hat, monocle and cane) boast that peanuts are good for your heart. It’s true! Nuts contain good fats that help your heart, your brain, and your waistline. It turns out nuts may be one of the smartest snack options available. They’re healthy and tasty!
Like any secret recipe, the composition of nuts is far from simple. It takes unique combinations of the following nutrients to make them so deliciously healthy.
- Unsaturated fats
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin E
- Plant sterols
What Makes Nuts So Good?
Fats and fatty acids provide the energy your body craves. These substances are responsible for helping your heart and mind function optimally by aiding in the maintenance of the white and grey matter making up your brain as well as lowering bad cholesterol, increasing good and providing sustainable energy. This boosts brain health by decreasing your chances of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Naturally, lower cholesterol will help your heart stay functioning optimally and decrease the risks of heart attack.
The combination of fats and especially fiber makes this an ideal snack for those working to shed a few inches. While the fats help you feel satiated, fiber helps that full feeling to stay for a while due to its longer digestion time. Also, a diet high in fiber reduces the risk for colon cancer. Fewer colonoscopies? Yes, please.
Plant sterols are great for boosting the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and relief for benign prostate hyperplasia. Vitamin E is known for its antioxidants as well as its anti-aging properties. PSA: eating nuts prevents wrinkles and keeps you looking 29 forever. That’s the most candles anyone ever puts on their birthday cake anyways, right?
L-Arginine is a neurotransmitter that helps the blood vessels relax and has been shown to increase blood flow through arteries of the heart. More blood flow + less plaque = healthier heart. So if you have chest pain, clogged arteries or coronary artery disease, skip the snickers and stick to just the nuts! Your heart will thank you. Better yet, be pro-active; an ounce of prevention (or nuts!) is worth a pound of cure.
If you want a quick, easy and healthy snack that also helps your waistline, your heart, your brain, your digestion and your skin, choose nuts! There’s such a wide variety with so many different ways to toast, roast, spread and scoop, there’s no reason not to make this delicious, health conscious choice. As with all good things in life, moderation is key. Keep a healthy, balanced life full of fun, exercise, and love, and experience the benefits of nuts for yourself!