Go Nuts for Nuts!

Crunchy, delicious, satisfying nuts are all the rage lately. In fact, they’ve really come out of their shell (so to speak) since the days when folks were reluctant to eat them because of their high fat content. But through the marvels of modern science, we’re beginning to see the light. Nuts are tiny power packets of heart-healthy fat, laced with trace minerals critical to maintaining good health.

Over the past few decades, one study after another has revealed that people who eat a handful of nuts five or more times a week cut their heart attack risk in half, compared with those who never eat them. And here’s the kicker: the protective effect is the same, whether the nuts studied were walnuts, almonds, macadamias, pistachios, mixed nuts, or peanuts. (Yes, I know, peanuts are technically a legume, but their fat, calorie, and nutrient profile is a very close match.)

But let’s get back to nuts’ high fat content. While it’s true that eating lots of saturated fat from fatty meats and baked goods can quickly slam your arteries shut, the fat in nuts actually opens them up and makes them more pliable. Here’s what you can expect from your favorite crunchy snack:

  • Almonds—a 24-nut serving has 169 calories and helps reduce insulin resistance and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
  • Walnuts—a 14-nut-half serving has 185 calories and helps lower breast cancer risk.
  • Pecans—a 20-nut-half serving has 196 calories and helps lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Pistachios—a 49-nut serving has 161 calories and helps improve “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce lung cancer risk.
  • Peanuts—a 27-nut serving helps control diabetes and reduce LDL cholesterol.

So, if you’re worried about overeating at parties and get-togethers over the next few weeks, pass over the not-so-healthy offerings, and go nuts instead.