Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans.. Just thinking about them can entice us into grabbing a small handful to munch on.
And that's a good thing (in moderation).
J sent me an e-mail asking about the health benefits of nuts. She's worried that if she eats them she'll gain weight, but she's also heard they're good for us. What's the answer?
Nuts and seeds play important roles in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Like J, many people are worried that if they eat a lot of nuts they'll gain weight. The important words here are "a lot" - when eaten in moderation (a small handful every few days) nuts don't appear to contribute to weight gain even though they are high in calories.
Nuts are low in saturated fat, often contain a good amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and provide plenty of other healthy nutrients like fiber, magnesium, zinc and sterols. They're also a good source of protein.
All this translates into some pretty good health news. Eating a small amount of nuts once or twice a week can help lower cholesterol levels, as well as the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Regular nut consumption may also decrease levels of inflammation in the body and help prevent against gallstones.
So, as long as you don't over-indulge, enjoying nuts on occasion appears to help protect our hearts without packing on the pounds.
I hope this answers your question, J. Be well.
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