Go Nuts! Adding Nuts to Your (Healthy) Diet
Are you aware of the many healthful advantages to adding nuts to your diet? Nuts in moderation pack a protein punch and may even prevent heart disease in some people. Yes, they are higher in fat than some other food choices, but they contain natural monounsaturated fats. In moderation, nuts can really amp up the nutrition in your diet. So whether you choose to snack on them, or better yet, start incorporating them into your cooking repertoire, you are sure to find satisfaction if you are a nut-lover.
High in Nutrients
Nuts are high in a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They are a good source of folic acid, protein, calcium, magnesium, selenium and potassium. When choosing nuts to enjoy, do your research and follow your taste buds. Obviously, some nuts are higher in nutrients. And, of course, how you eat them makes a big difference. Adding dry toasted nuts to a salad is preferable to eating a handful of sugared peanuts, for example. At least nutritionally speaking.
How to Buy Nuts
When shopping, you’ll want to look for whole raw nuts or nut halves. Unless they are called for in a specific recipe, don’t buy slivered nuts or nut ‘pieces’ as there is a greater risk of spoilage with these varieties. If you are planning to eat them in a reasonable time frame, nuts may be left at room temperature. But, the freezer is your best bet for storing nuts to keep them as fresh as possible.
Not Just a Snack
Nuts make a great snack because they are tasty, portable and mix so well with everything from granola to dry cereal to dried fruit. But they have so much more potential! Start simple by adding them to your yogurt, oatmeal or muffins. Beyond that, begin adding them to virtually any dish. They make a great addition as a salad topper, add crunch to appetizers and soups, can be great paired with say, a blue cheese sauce atop a steak, and of course, added to all kinds of desserts. Keep in mind, if you are a vegetarian, nuts can help replace or supplement some of the minerals that meat would typically provide in one’s diet.
Roasting Nuts at Home
Commercially roasted nuts have additives and oils that lessen the healthful qualities of the nuts in natural form. However, roasting nuts brings out a rich, toasty flavor that really enriches their flavor and in some cases, boosts their nutritional value. The solution? Roast or dry toast at home. Simply spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350° for about 10 to 15 minutes (just five to seven minutes for very small nuts like pine nuts.) Be sure to cool the nuts before prepping them for cooking in a chopper or food processor. Store cooled nuts in covered glass jars in the refrigerator.
Chelsea Smith is a personal trainer and diet freak who loves to write whenever she has the time. She often covers topics relating to health and nutrition and she recently wrote an article about nutrition in nuts.
Photo Credit: Bucci