Perhaps the most underrated snack food is the raw, unadulterated nut. High in monounsaturated fats that keep us heart-healthy and disease-free, a handful of nuts a day have been linked to lower cholesterol, weight management, and even lower risk of cancer.
So why do nuts account for less than 10 percent of our daily antioxidant intake? According to Joy Bauer, Today Show nutritionist and bestselling author, “That may be because people are afraid of the fat and calories in nuts, or they find plain nuts boring.”
I agree, and it’s unfortunate. The list of nutritional and health benefits is far too long for this blog post. But they’re a key part of my diet and they should be part of yours too. Many raw nuts and seeds reduce bad cholesterol; increase good cholesterol; and lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Although not all nuts (or seeds) are created equal, here is an abbreviated list of some of the many raw nuts and seeds that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us:
- Walnuts fight inflammation and contain the most antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.
- Almonds have the most fiber. And we all know how good fiber is for your digestive health. One study indicated that dieters who included almonds in their plan lost more weight than those who didn’t.
- Speaking of losing weight, Pistachios have the fewest calories (less than 4 per nut). One study from the University of Texas found that they can even help you fight lung cancer.
- Hazelnuts should be included in your diet, especially if you’re at risk for, or already have, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. They contain high levels of monounsaturated fats, which can improve cardiovascular health and help manage your diabetes.
- Brazil Nuts are high in heart-healthy nutrients and minerals. Studies show that protein-rich Brazil Nuts may aid in the prevention of breast cancer.
- Siberian Cedar Nuts. Okay, these might be a tad bit harder to find, but it’s worth it. These Russian nuts contain 70 percent of the essential amino acids your body needs. They also contain high amounts of vitamins A, B and D. They also contain a fatty acid similar to fish oil, which reduces the amount of bad cholesterol.
I strongly recommend that you try a variety of raw nuts and seeds to see which you like best, and then incorporate a small handful into your daily diet. Even better, replace a processed snack each day with a handful of nutritious nuts.
If you have any questions, concerns, or want to learn more about my nutty food habit, give me or my office a ring. We’re here for your health.