Black walnuts fall rat-a-tat-tat onto the metal roof of our (now uninhabited) chicken house; acorns litter my walking paths through the woods. The sight and sound of them falling makes me think of…well, nuts! Not only are they healthy, but they also help with weight control and so much more. Let’s get nuts about one of nature’s most perfect foods.
Nuts and Weight Control
If you love nuts of any kind as much as I do (providing you don’t suffer from allergies to them*), you’ll rejoice at recently published research suggesting that, on average, folks who eat a handful of nuts or peanuts every day gain only half as much weight through adulthood as folks who don’t eat nuts.
Researchers recommend replacing half a serving a day of less-healthful foods (e.g., red or processed meat, french fries, chips, cookies) with a serving of nuts.
Nuts and Nutrition
And while nut-eaters gain less weight, they do gain important nutritional benefits: healthy fats, quality protein, fiber, many essential minerals, B vitamins, and an array of antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Earlier and ongoing research suggests that eating nuts five or more times a week may lower one’s risk of getting heart disease or dying from it!
Nuts’ protein content can also maintain proper blood sugar levels so replace some of those sugary or fatty snacks with nuts to avoid that sugar crash!
A “serving” of nuts, about an ounce, contains between 160 and 200 calories, mostly in the form of healthy fats. If you’re estimating rather than weighing, one ounce means about 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 12 hazelnuts or filberts, 8 medium Brazil nuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 35 peanuts (one tablespoon of all-peanut peanut butter), 15 pecan halves, 14 walnut halves, and 49 pistachios.
Note: The trick is portioning out and staying roughly within that one-ounce serving. Eating more and more nuts won’t help prevent weight gain, and may accelerate it.
Which Nuts Are Healthiest?
Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. And peanuts—technically not a nut, but a legume—are relatively healthy.
However, nutritionists suggest eating mixtures of nuts, because of their different nutrient profiles. The type of nuts you choose to eat isn’t as important.
Keep in mind, you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, candy, sugar, or salt! These pile on the calories without contributing any nutrient boost of their own.
If you choose to buy raw nuts and roast them yourself, choose a low, slow roasting or pan-toasting process—especially for almonds—and toast just enough to release their appealing aromas and flavors.
*Some people experience allergic reactions, occasionally fatal, to tree nuts or peanuts, including nut butters and oils, as well baked goods, packaged mixes, and other products that contain nuts. Both children and adults may experience nut allergies, and they can develop at any time in life.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include: itching or tingling of throat/lips/tongue, shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, hives or other skin rashes, diarrhea, and other digestive symptoms. If you, your child, or someone else in your family experiences any of these symptoms after eating nuts, seek medical attention right away.
More About Nuts
When there are plenty of nuts, expect a hot and dry harvest. -C.L. Prince
- Turkeys, bears, and squirrels consume or store most of these nuts against the coming winter, and there is much folklore about nuts! Enjoy this winter weather lore.
- Did you know that acorns can be eaten? Learn how to prepare and cook acorns.
- If you have a black walnut tree, you’re well are of their heavy fruit drop. Learn more about black walnut trees and how to harvest walnuts.
- While raw nuts are healthiest, you may also enjoy this recipe for spiced nuts!