Nuts have been a major part of the human diet for over 780,000 years and were an important source of energy for our prehistoric ancestors due to their high fat content.
The nuts and bolts of a balanced diet
High in unsaturated fats (the good kind), nuts are an important part of a healthy diet, as unsaturated fats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. While they are a recommended snack, because they do contain a significant proportion of fat, it’s important to make sure your intake is balanced.
One top tip to stop over snacking is to avoid eating straight out of the pack. Buy nuts fresh, store them in airtight containers and put a small handful in a bowl when you’re feeling peckish. 30g of nuts per day is a good guide to work from, so portion that much out and don’t go back for seconds!
Also limit your intake of coconut and palm nuts as these guys contain high levels of saturated fats (the bad kind). Roasted and salted varieties can also be high in added fat and salt. Unsalted raw nuts are always best if you can get your hands on them.
At this time of year we can buy fresh peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, pecans and macadamias. They all have different flavours and textures, but similar nutritional benefits. Enjoy a mixture of nuts for flavor and NUTrition:
- Hazelnuts: fibre, potassium and vitamin E
- Almonds: protein, calcium and vitamin E
- Chestnuts: fibre, low GI
- Walnuts: provide the healthier omega-3 fat and magnesium (best left in their shells before use)
- Pecan: fibre and antioxidants (a bit like a walnut but sweeter)
- Macadamias: monounsaturated fats (these nuts have a unique texture that’s both creamy and crunchy)
- Peanuts: monounsaturated fat, vitamin B and E
Did you know? The peanut is not actually a nut; it’s a legume (like peas and beans). They are called nuts because they have many similarities to tree nuts.
And remember! Some people are allergic to nuts (tree nuts, peanuts or both). More information on nut allergies can be found here.
Some serving suggestions
Nuts add delicious flavours, crunch and some excitement to otherwise ho-hum dishes. Here are some suggestions for how to mix it up!
- Add nuts to a sandwich by turning them into a nut butter
- Add toasted nuts to salad or stir-fry
- Grind them and add a crunch to your steamed veggies
- Sprinkle some over fruit and yoghurt
- Add nuts to Betty Crocker’s Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies for a sweat treat.
The choices are endless, just be careful about how you portion your snacks, and make balance and moderation a key to a healthy diet!
This article contains general information. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.