We're always reading in the news about how great nuts are for you. One week they're claiming almonds are the best, the next week it's walnuts. The truth is that nuts can be very good for you.
They're a good source of protein, healthy fats, and also vitamin E. Their protein content is what helps make you feel full when you eat them, so they're great as part of a snack. Another option is to have them as your protein source in a meal (ie. nut butter on toast as part of breakfast, or nuts on a large salad as part of a lunch or supper). They're also great for taking along with you, because they don't need to be refrigerated before you eat them. This makes them a favourite of mine for long hikes, camping trips, sports tournaments, and long days at work.
Storage Tip: Keep nuts in the fridge or even the freezer to prevent the fats in the nuts from going rancid (bad).
So go a head and enjoy a healthy snack of some nuts ... but don't go TOO nutty now!
Often at parties I see a bowl or a dish sitting out with nuts in it. There's often beer nuts, salted peanuts, sometimes wasabi peanuts, chocolate-covered almonds, and so forth. But, I caution you: BEWARE OF THE NUTS. If you sit down in front of them and start munching away, it won't be long before you've gone overboard.
A client once came to see me for weight management and weight loss support. She told me about her healthy diet and about the exercise she was doing. She explained that she would often have a snack of nuts in the evening because she knew that they wouldn't affect her blood sugar and because they are a healthy snack. She said she preferred peanuts and always chose the unsalted variety. I congratulated her on these positive steps and followed up with a question about her portion size. That's when she explained that she would have about a cup (250 mL) of peanuts each night. Ding ding DING!
THAT was the problem. The portion size! Can you believe that 1 cup of peanuts packs nearly 900 calories??!! And that's the raw ones (ie. not oil-roasted). WOW!
To put it in perspective, the average adult woman in her 20s or 30s consumes ~2000 calories per day. That means that a cup of peanuts would be nearly 1/2 her daily intake of calories. No wonder she wasn't losing weight!
Here are some tips for nuts to keep you out of trouble:
- Keep your serving size to 1/4 cup (that's ~200 calories if it's peanuts you're choosing)
- Store nuts in the freezer or fridge to keep them tasting good
- Choose unsalted, raw varieties whenever possible (and chocolate-free of course!)
- If serving nuts at a party, provide a SMALL dish to help your guests to prevent overeating
- If you can manage it, eat them one at a time so you take the time to enjoy them (otherwise 1/4 cup may seem like nothing)
- If you're handful is over-flowing, you've got too much!