Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, you’re well aware that health experts have been extolling the virtues of nuts and seeds for the last several years. And with good reason. In fact, the two most highly rated eating plans according to US News and World Report are the DASH and Mediterranean diets, both of which emphasize the importance of nuts and seeds in our diets.
But, what is it about nuts that makes them such nutritional powerhouses? Here’s the short list of what nuts have going for them:
- They’re high in fiber — Fiber can lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, and according to Mayo Clinic, it may have a “role” in preventing diabetes. Fiber also makes you feel fuller faster and can keep you from overeating
- Plant sterols —
- Omega-3 fatty acids — Omega-3s may help prevent irregular heart rhythms that can lead to heart attack
- Unsaturated fats — these fats help to lower bad cholesterol
Nuts may also reduce the risk of developing blood clots and stabilize blood pressure.
Even though nuts are nutritional rock stars, they have a bad rap because they’re high in calories — however, some have more calories than others. Those at the lower end of the calorie spectrum are almonds, cashews and pistachios. Additionally, because they have such a complex make-up, almonds are difficult to digest; in fact for every 100 calories you eat in almonds, only 80 are actually absorbed into your body.
Almonds and walnuts are also great blood sugar stabilizers. Because they have just the right amount of protein and fat, they’re a great pick me up when you have an afternoon slump. I keep a box of 100 calorie packs of almonds and walnuts in my desk — they increase my energy level as fast as a cup of coffee without the caffeine crash several hours later.