Packed with protein, fiber, nutrients, and health-protective substances, a small handful of nuts makes for a nutritious and satisfying snack. If you enjoy eating almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and more, this month is for you! “National Nuts Day” will be celebrated August 3rd, while “National Trail Mix Day” is August 31st. Nuts are so calorically dense so it’s important to keep track of your portion sizes. A one-ounce recommended serving size (roughly 23 almonds, 14 walnut halves, 17 cashews, or 28 peanuts) contains approximately 160 to 200 calories. When incorporated appropriately into your diet, here are some benefits of nuts:
- Although nuts are high in calories and fat, most of the fat comes from monounsaturated fat. This fat can help reduce bad cholesterol levels, making nuts a heart-healthy choice.
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts can benefit your heart by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to fight inflammation.
- Nuts are a fiber-rich food. Fiber fills you up, which can help you eat less and maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, fiber is thought to play a role in preventing diabetes. Almonds contain the most fiber (about three grams per ounce) than any other nut.
- Furthermore, nuts are an excellent source of Vitamin-E, which plays an important role in prevention of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin-E has been shown to stop the development of plaque in arteries.
- Antioxidants help to protect your body from the cellular damage that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging,and they are found in nuts. To get the most antioxidants out of your nuts, choose walnuts.
If you are allergic to nuts or just don’t like the taste, there are a few substitutes you can eat that contain similar nutritional benefits. For instance, sunflower seeds lower the risk of heart disease and contain high amounts of Vitamin-E. Avocados, olives, and pumpkin seeds are also excellent sources of nutrients found in nuts, especially unsaturated fats.
Heart-Healthy Trail Mix Recipe
½ cup unsalted silvered almonds
3 cups whole grain unsweetened cereal (Can mix cereals)
1 cup unsalted, dry roasted soy nuts
1 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup seedless raisins
½ cup diced dried apricots (or choice or additional unsweetened dried fruit – such as mixed berries or figs or dates)
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve!
Makes 28 servings
Serving size: ¼ cup
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Sodium: 35 mg
Cholesterol: 0 g
Protein: 5 g
Carbohydrate: 13 g
Sugars: 4 g
Dietary fiber: 3-7 grams (depending on the type of cereal used)
Source: Melissa Ohlson MS, RD, LD & Julia Zumpano RD, LD
Registered Dietitians from the Department of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation