In a Nutshell: The Value of Nuts in the Diet

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Nuts are one of the healthiest foods you can snack on. Numerous studies have found that eating nuts regularly is associated with reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

While there is currently not enough evidence to show that nuts by themselves lower cancer risk, emerging studies suggest they may play a role in prevention. One study found that people who ate nuts at least four times a week had lower risk of cancer overall compared to those eating nuts less than once a week. It can’t be said that nuts alone are responsible for this decreased risk, but it is a good idea to include nuts in the diet if possible, due to their impressive nutrient content.

Nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both are healthy fats, known to manage cholesterol levels, which can lower the risk of heart disease. All nuts are good sources of fiber, protein, and micronutrients; however, the specific micronutrients and amounts will vary by type. For example, Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, almonds are a good source of vitamin E, and walnuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In order to get the maximum nutritional benefits, it is a good idea to eat a wide variety of nuts.

Portion Control

As nuts are high in calories, it is important to be mindful of eating the correct portion size. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is one ounce or roughly ¼ cup per day. The recommended serving size of nut butters is two tablespoons. This can be difficult to monitor, but overeating nuts and nut betters can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Tips and Tricks

  • Buy pre-portioned packs of nuts at the supermarket for a healthy snack. A cheaper alternative is to buy a large bag of nuts and portion out the serving size yourself into little plastic bags, which makes for a great on-the-go snack.
  • Incorporate nuts into your diet by putting them into your meals. Throwing a serving of nuts into a salad or other dish is a perfect way to increase the nutrient density of your meal. Check out our Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry or Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie for inspiration.
  • Buy nuts that are raw and unsalted. Salt makes anything more addictive.  If you normally eat salted nuts, try having half unsalted and half salted nuts until your taste buds change, or better yet, purchase raw and unsalted nuts and roast them yourself.

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