Nuts Are A Healthy Holiday And Everyday Treat

If you need a last minute hostess gift, or a party snack idea, consider going with a box, tin, or dish of nuts, one of nature’s most satisfying combinations of tasty crunch and essential nutrients.

Some of us may still be wary of eating nuts owed to the misleading precautions given by some healthcare providers in decades past. However, a recent analysis of 29 studies indicates that enjoying a handful of nuts each day can substantially reduce our risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancer, respiratory, and infectious diseases.

A Mix Of Calories And Carbs

While it's true that nuts contain fat, most of it is “good” monounsaturated fat, including omega-6s and omega-3s. In the realm of nuts, macadamias have the highest good-fat content. Nuts also contain some saturated fats - Brazil nuts have the most - but we require a certain amount of these fats every day to enjoy good health.

For those concerned about calories, numerous studies reveal that people who eat nuts regularly do not typically experience notable weight gains, or losses. Other research suggests when nuts are consumed in conjunction with a healthy diet it reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes.

Individuals who count calories or carbs may want to consider the nutrient balance of each nut variety separately. For instance:

  • An ounce of cashews provides 157 calories and 8.6 grams of carbohydrate, while the same serving size of macadamia nuts contains 204 calories and 3.9 grams of carbs.
  • Brazil nuts, though high in saturated fat, have only 3.5 carb grams per ounce, provide 186 calories, and are an excellent source of magnesium.
  • Pistachios have 7.8 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, but are low in saturated fat (1.6g), high in protein, moderately high in fiber, and are a great source of potassium.
  • An ounce of almonds has 163 calories, and though there are 6.1 grams of carbs, almonds are low in saturated fat, high in fiber and protein, and are a good source of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, and calcium.

A healthy rule-of-thumb for most of us is to enjoy up to one-third cup of mixed nuts each day, but it’s always wise to consult with your doctor or dietitian before changing a recommended diet plan.

Rosemary Roasted Nuts

For gifts, or for party treats, it’s easy to jazz up a mix of nuts by roasting them with herbs and spices.

You will need:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary snips, or 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups walnut pieces, hazelnuts (filberts), and/or whole almonds

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set pan aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white with a fork until it’s frothy. Add the rosemary, pepper, and salt, beating with the fork until combined. Add nuts, and toss to coat.
  3. Spread the nut mixture in an even layer in the pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring once.
  4. Use the foil to lift the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool. Break up any large pieces. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month. Makes 12 1/4 cup servings.

Per serving: 198 cal., 20g total fat (2g saturated), 102mg sodium, 4g carb, 2g fiber, 5g protein.

Sources: Mercola; Nut Comparison Chart ; Diabetic Living

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