Nuts Are Heart Smart And Diet Friendly

Snacking on a serving of nuts can be a smart nutritional choice.  Not only are nuts loaded with healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E and protein, a new study shows that people can safely add nuts to their diet without gaining weight.

Because nuts are high in fat, people tend to think that eating them will make them gain weight or increase their insulin resistance.  Recent research has combined data from 31 trials conducted across the globe and found that, on average, there is very little difference in changes in weight between people who were put on a normal diet versus a nut-supplemented diet.

In the trials, participants were randomly assigned to a normal diet or one that included extra nuts and were followed anywhere from a two week to five year period.  The study concluded that the people on the nut-supplemented diet lost an average of 1.4 extra pounds and close to a half an inch off of their waist.

Dr. David Bleich, head of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark says his own work shows that insulin resistance was lower when people added nuts to their diet.

Pistachios

Heart Healthy Benefits of Nuts

Men who have already suffered a heart attack can reduce cardiovascular risk by eating nuts regularly, according to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch.  Here’s why:

  • Nuts are believed to help lower cholesterol when they replace less healthy food in the diet.
  • Nuts contain mono and polyunsaturated fats that are known to benefit the heart.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts protect against irregular heart rhythms.
  • Nuts are rich in arginine, a substance found to improve blood vessel function.
  • Nuts contain other nutrients, such as vitamin E and fiber that also help lower cardiovascular risk.

Walnuts are believed to be one of the most heart healthy nuts because they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  Almonds, macadamia, hezelnuts and pecans are not far behind.

Below is a breakdown on some of the most popular nuts calorie and nutritional information:

Nut Variety

Appox # of Nuts

Calories

Protein

Total Fat (g)

Almonds 23 160 6 14
Brazil Nuts 6 190 4 19
Cashews 18 160 4 13
Hazelnuts 21 180 4 17
Macadamia 11 200 2 22
Pecans (halves) 19 200 3 20
Walnuts (halves) 14 190 4 18
Pistachios 19 160 4 18

The combination of fiber and protein make nuts a satisfying snack that will fill you up longer than some of the other snack options.

There are many ways to add nuts to your diet:

  • Sprinkle a serving of slivered almonds on your oatmeal and on top of Greek yogurt.
  • Add nuts to your salad in place of croutons for additional crunch and nutrition.
  • Stir into bread, muffin and pancake mixes before cooking.
  • Add extra flavor to veggies and pastas with a handful of nuts.
  • Replace the less nutritious snacks in your diet, like pretzels and chips, with a serving or two of nuts from the list.

Remember to select unsalted nuts with no added sugar for the healthiest benefit.

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