nutsYou’ve probably heard that nuts are a healthy addition to well-balanced diet. Regular intake of nuts has been shown to improve heart health by lowering cholesterol, strengthening the arteries (that’s because nuts contain Vitamin E) and reducing the risk of blood clots. Nuts are also high in fiber, which is great for efficient digestion and to help you feel fuller longer. Nuts are a good source for Omega 3 so you can  expect that powerhouse nutrient when you enjoy these crunchy treats. Although nuts offer many health benefits it is important to enjoy them in moderation. Most pack a lot of calories and fat in each serving.

There’s fat in there…but a lot of other good stuff, too

One cup of almonds, among the most popular for snacking, has more than 500 calories and nearly 50 grams of fat. Almonds are a good source of potassium (great for managing blood pressure), calcium (for bone health) and iron. Get the benefits without busting your calorie budget for the day. Enjoy just a handful, about an ounce, out of hand for an afternoon snack. If you think you will be tempted to eat more, place your serving for the day in individual snack bags. Nuts store and travel well so keep some on hand if you are trying to stay away from the vending machine.

Walnuts are comparable with almonds for calories, fat and other nutrients. They offer the additional benefit of Vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Walnuts also help fight inflammation. Toss with salads or add to oatmeal or baked goods for variety.

nutsBeware of additions

Americans love going the extra mile with food. We robe Oreos in chocolate, fry ice cream and even snicker’s bars and Twinkie’s. To get the most benefit from nuts you want to go for the options that are least modified. Adding oil, salt, sugar and chocolate may make the nuts tastier but may cancel all the goodness you thought you were getting. For example, one cup of oil roasted mixed nuts has more than 800 calories and 72 grams of fat. There are almost 1,000 calories in a cup of chocolate covered almonds. That is nearly twice as many as there are in almonds without chocolate covering.

Don’t be afraid to include nuts in your diet. Although they are high in calories and fat, it is healthy, unsaturated fat. Enjoy them in moderation for good health.