Once relegated to the junk-food aisle due to their high calorie count and excess sodium, nuts have made a comeback in recent years as researchers have shown their numerous health benefits. Although nuts indeed have a high fat content—up to 80% fat, in fact—the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is considered “good” fat; it reduces the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people’s blood, reducing their risk of heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating nuts—a small handful a day—as part of a heart-healthy diet. In addition to LDL-lowering fats, nuts are also high in fiber, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols, all of which are associated with lowered cholesterol and improved heart health. Compared to many snack foods, nuts also have a lot of protein, which can help keep you going during the day. Their small size and portability make them a perfect snack for health-conscious eaters, and they are readily available in many Bistro To Go™ locations.
Of course, as is the case with most foods, portion control is crucial for keeping nuts healthy. A serving size is no more than a small handful: about 2/3 of an ounce to an ounce. With the amount of calories and fat that nuts contain—even though it’s good fat—overindulging in nuts is bad for both the heart and the waistline. How nuts are prepared also has an impact on fat content. When possible, look for dry-roasted or raw nuts rather than ones that have been roasted in oil. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of sodium; many roasted nuts are heavily salted, resulting in unhealthy amounts of sodium.
Finally, not all nuts are created equal. Some have higher nutrient levels, while others contain more fat. Use the chart below to help you make healthier choices when you “go nuts.”
|Nuts (1 ounce)||Calories||Fat (grams)||Fiber (grams)||Protein (grams)|
*Peanuts are legumes, not nuts, but we’ve included them on this chart for convenience and for comparison’s sake.