and lowering your cholesterol while filling you up
Snacking has gotten a bad name through the years,
mostly due to the over-abundance of pre-packaged snack foods.
But, snacking doesn't have to be bad
for you if you know what snacks to choose. As a matter of fact, snacking can be
really good for you. Let's take a look at one healthy food that
should be considered an essential snack.
Nutrition by the Handful
That little nut you have been snacking on is
really a super food because of the unique combination of fats, protein,
vitamins, and minerals. This tiny powerhouse works hard lowering the risk of
some significant diseases and
Don't let the fat content or calorie count of nuts worry you too
much. Even though nuts are often high in calories and fat, they have 'good' fats
and omega 3 fatty acids that lower bad cholesterol levels and help regulate
blood pressure and healthy heart rhythms.
The fiber content in nuts also helps
control cholesterol and has been found to lower
the risk for diabetes.
But that's not all. Certain types of nuts also
have plant sterols which is another cholesterol inhibitor.
So important as a cholesterol inhibitor, as a matter of fact, that plant
sterols are added to things like orange juice and margarine for the health
benefits. And you've got it all right there
in a nut.
In addition, vitamin E and the amino acid L-arginine are two
elements that help reduce plaque in the circulatory system, which helps to
prevent clots in arteries. Nuts have so many of these healthy elements that they
may be one of the most powerful food you can eat to take care
of your heart.
Enjoy Nuts in Numerous Ways
The important thing to remember with nuts is, like many other
things in life, too much of a good thing isn't really good. Since nuts are dense
in calories and fat, a little goes a long way. For instance, just a dozen or so
cashews can have up to 180 calories. For this reason, health experts recommend
limiting your daily intake of most nuts to no more than a couple of ounces. This
is actually good news for your budget, since adding nuts to your healthy diet
requires only a small investment for such a big return.
So, what specific nuts are best to eat regularly? There isn't
really a lot of definitive research to suggest one type of nut is better than
another. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and cashews are popular and easy to find in
most regions. You'll also find many recipes for these particular nuts,
so it's easy to incorporate nuts into your meals as
well as your snacking.
Consider substituting chopped nuts for the
chocolate chips in cookies, for example.
Toss peanuts into a green salad or pasta salad for added nutrition and
crunch. Use natural peanut butter on your morning toast instead of butter or
jam. Walnuts are a classic choice to top a savory salad.
Chop almonds up and toss in your yogurt
for a nice crunch.
You can also grind almonds, peanuts, or other
nuts into a coarse meal. Use this meal to coat chicken or fish
instead of using cornmeal or flour when frying or baking.
Grind the meal fine and add to smoothies in your blender.
Almonds can be ground into a flour consistency and can be used in many
dishes as a substitute for wheat flour. This gluten-free flour alternative has
become very popular in recent years.
It's best to buy shelled, unsalted, or minimally
processed varieties of nuts in small quantities. You can also protect fresh nuts
from oxidation by storing them in a cool, dark, dry place.
Or you can store nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator or
freezer. The oils that naturally occur in nuts can become rancid if
exposed to heat and air.
Adding small amounts of nuts to your diet will provide
your body with big benefits.
Choose a variety of nuts, store them properly, and enjoy a
handful of crunchy nutrition