Sunday, 20 February 2011


Now, I know a lot of people avoid eating nuts because they are calorie counting, and they are high in calories and fat, but they are good calories and good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that have many health benefits and should definitely not be avoided. Unless you have a nut allergy of course.

They are full of fats that are good for your heart, as well as protein, antioxidants, fiber and so many vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, they reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol. Nuts also contain nearly as much protein as lean meat, so they are great for vegetarians, or for those unhealthy meat eaters who say they can't give up meat because of all the protein they get from it.

As with everything, it is all about moderation. If you ate bags and bags of nuts daily as a snack, you would put on weight, but 15 - 20 nuts as a snack will give you an energy boost, as well as benefit your health.

They are my snack of choice, and anyone that is trying to look after their health should make it their snack of choice too. Ever find yourself reaching for chocolate, or biscuits, or anything sugary in the afternoon to give you a bit of a pick-me-up? Well, reach for some nuts instead! (No sexual pun intended haha). They will give you an even better energy boost, that doesn't come with a sugar crash and hour later and is a whole lot better for you as well, as they are naturally cholesterol free and have only traces of sodium in them. It is important to eat a snack that has both protein and carbohydrates in to keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Obviously, not all nuts are the same, and some are better for you than others. But, if you are just at the beginning of making better snack choices, then you should not worry too much about the type of nuts yet. But, it goes without saying, eating sugar roasted pecans, or salt covered peanuts is not the kind of nut snack I am talking about. The best nuts to eat are almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and walnuts as they are full of iron and vitamin E. Vitamin E has been found to keep Alzheimer's at bay and old people who have the highest amount of this vitamin in their blood stream are found to be half as likely to develop this awful disease. Seeing as Alzheimer's affects 400,00 Britons and 500 new cases are diagnosed everyday, there is even more reason to be boosting your vitamin E intake.

You don't just have to snack on nuts by themselves to get the benefits of them. Other ideas are sprinkling them over cereal or salads (walnuts on salad is great), make some wholewheat muffins with nuts in, use as a topping on yogurt, or mix into stir-frys. What I like to do with them is to make my own trail-mix. I mix nuts, seeds, dried fruit and wheat free cereal together and keep an a handy package with me at all times in case I want a snack. I have included pictures of the nuts I buy and then my home-made trail mix at the end.

Just as a reference, even though I don't really like calorie counting, I know some of your reading this do, here is a guideline for the nutritional value of nuts.

Almond (20-24 nuts): 161 cals, 14g fat, 1g sat fat, 6g protein
Brazil Nut (6-8 nuts): 183 cals, 19g fat, 4g sat fat, 4g protein
Cashew (16-18 nuts): 160 cals, 13g fat, 3g sat fat, 4g protein
Hazelnut (18-20 nuts): 180 cals, 17g fat, 1g sat fat, 4g protein
Macadamia (10-12 nuts): 201 cals, 21g fat, 3g sat fat, 2g protein
Peanut (28 nuts): 166 cals, 14g fat, 2g sat fat, 7g protein
Pecan (18-20 halves): 198 cals, 21g fat, 2g sat fat, 3g protein
Pine nut (150-157 nuts): 188 cals, 19g fat, 1g sat fat, 4g protein
Pistachio (45-47 nuts): 159 cals, 13g fat, 2g sat fat, 6g protein
Walnut (14 halves): 183 cals, 18g fat, 2g sat fat, 4g protein

For those of you that are allergic to nuts, which Dave is, make a nut free trail mix - which is what Dave snacks on. Mix seeds, dried fruit and wheat free cereal together and it is still a low sugar and healthy snack.

Enjoy your nuts

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