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Nuts to You!


nuts to you large

As a child growing up, one of the many things I loved about the holiday months of November and December is that we always had fresh nuts in the house. Ever since, I have been kind of nuts about nuts, and eat them every day, and if you aren’t allergic, you should too. A recent Harvard study of 119,000 people followed for three decades found that eating nuts on a daily basis lowered the risk of death from any cause by about 20 percent.

Impressive studies also show that nut consumption is linked to lower risks for Alzheimer’s disease, heart attack, diabetes and sudden cardiac death. Adding tree nuts to your diet will help to reduce the bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise your good (HDL) cholesterol.

Tree nuts also can reduce your chances of dying from a malignant tumor, and seem to be protective against pancreatic cancer and colon cancer. My father died of pancreatic cancer, which is often a very nasty and painful malignancy that is very difficult to cure. So this is just one more reason that nuts play a starring role in my daily diet.

Nuts are especially good for your heart and brain because they are loaded with healthy fats and lots of great fiber; both of which help to fill you up and keep the hunger pangs away for hours. Tree nuts are also rich in magnesium, selenium, folic acid, vegetable protein, phytosterols, vitamin E, L-arginine and other nutrients. Because tree nuts contain all of these nutrients, they help to keep your blood vessels soft and supple, your bad cholesterol and blood sugar normal, and paradoxically can even help you maintain a sexy waistline.

Sure nuts are high in calories, about 200 to 250 calories per handful, with about 80 percent of the calories coming from fat. Yet surprisingly, studies consistently show that the more often people eat nuts, the leaner they tend to be. A recent dietary trial found people who frequently ate nuts gained less weight than individuals who never ate nuts, and were about 43 percent less likely to become overweight or obese during the 28-month study.

Which is the Best Nut?

The most nutritious types of nuts are tree nuts, such as pecans, almonds, walnuts, black walnuts, macadamias, hazel nuts, Brazil nuts and pistachios. The type of tree nut you eat isn't a big deal; in fact mixed nuts are great because they provide a larger variety of nutrients. I eat many types of nuts raw, though I prefer my pistachios roasted and lightly salted. Make a point to find and consume the freshest nuts - stale nuts can contain rancid fats, which taste toxic and might even be bad for your health.

Peanuts and cashews are not quite as healthy as the other nuts, but they are still better than most other snack foods. Try to choose nuts instead of junk food snacks like chips or candy. I am not a fan of trail mix, as it almost always contains too much sugar.


In Good Health,

James and Joan O'Keefe

Photo Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons