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Crack Open Those Nuts For A Snack

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  April 19, 2012 12:42 PM

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Source: International Tree Nut Council
 If you snack during the day (who doesn't?), you may want to consider reaching for some nuts.  A recent study of over 13,000 adults published in Nutrition Research showed that consuming nuts was associated with a higher level of the HDL "good" cholesterol and lower blood levels of insulin and C-reactive protein.  A high level of C-reactive protein is a marker for inflammation in the body and increased risk of heart disease.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows nuts to boost a health claim on their labels specifying that "scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Nuts are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, vitamin E, potassium, and healthy oils yet low in heart-unhealthy saturated fat.

If you are worried about the effects of eating nuts on your waistline, another study found that those who consumed peanuts and tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts) had a lower prevalence of being overweight than non-nut consumers.  Researchers look to nuts' satiety effect, or their ability to make you feel full, as a possible explanation for their potential waist-friendly attributes.  The fiber, protein, and healthy unsaturated fats in nuts all contribute to satiety.  Translation:  a half ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, or 7 walnut halves) as a snack, which is considered a serving, weighs in anywhere from about 80 to 95 calories, but their "fullness factor" may help you feel satisfied for less calories overall.  Compare that to an ounce serving of wheat crackers (about 16 Wheat Thins), which serves up 140 calories, but lacks the fiber and protein-rich satiety.  Thus, you may find yourself over-munching on the crackers (and the calories) to get that same feeling of fullness.

The beauty of nuts is that they are a transportable snack in your briefcase, pocketbook, and/or backpack.  Pack a half ounce in a plastic container for a convenient portioned snack in between meals to curb your appetite and potentially improve your health.  If you are looking for a handy container to package the nuts, the Almond Board of California sells colorful tins for about $2.  Click here for more information.

Do you snack on nuts?

Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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