I'm feeling particularly nutty right now, so I thought it might be good to discuss adding nuts to our diet. Nuts are a great source of protein as well as being full of all sorts of heart healthy substances like Omega 3's, vitamin E and fiber. Mayo clinic put out a short sweet article that gives a good overview of different nuts along with their calorie and fat contents (amounts found in 1 ounce of nuts). Note they do say in the article you can diminish the amount of good you are doing for your heart if the nuts are covered in sugar, chocolate or sprinkled on a mound of ice cream, hot fudge and whipped topping. That last was my own addition.
Technically, peanuts are not a nut, but a legume, but I love peanuts. Peanuts, while not as popular as a heart healthy choice do have plenty of disease fighting benefits of their own and even contain the same age fighting molecule found in grapes and red wine, resveratrol. Here's another good article about the peanut. Peanuts are easy to get, are inexpensive and great to have at parties or when kids are around. They are a much better choice than chips or pretzels as they actually are a source of good nutrients.
Another wonderful nut is the walnut. Walnuts are a source of Omega 3's. Omega 3 helps your heart function at a healthier level. In addition walnuts add their nutty flavor to everything from oatmeal and salads, to desserts (but not too much). I actually like walnuts plain. Just pull a few out of the bag and start munching. The walnut is so popular it even has it's own website, California Walnuts.
Pistachios are another good choice for just eating. While you can use them in desserts or muffins, my family loves pistachios right out of the shell. If we are going on a trip, we often take a bag of pistachios to munch on in the car. We get the ones still in the shell as they are a little bit cheaper than the ones that are already shelled. Again, the nutritional benefits are similar to peanuts and walnuts. Check out the American Pistachio Growers site for more info on health benefits and ways to use this yummy little nuts.
There are many other nuts with similar nutritional assets. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more. Nuts are a nutrient rich food, especially for children who are picky eaters. Just be sure they aren't allergic. Nuts are also portable. They are a good snack for hikers, bike riders and other sports participants as they don't need refrigeration and don't take up much room. For women who are calorie conscious, nuts are still a good snack or garnish choice for salads or cereal, just be careful to measure the amount of nuts you are using as the calories can add up fast.
Remember, we are trying to grow our diets, so adding flax seed from my article last week and nuts are two healthy ways to make our diets more nutritionally beneficial. This week figure out which nut you like the best and let me know in the comments section below. I'd love to hear your opinions.