Looking For A Quick Nutrition Boost? Go Nuts

Need a quick and simple snack that's actually good for you? Go nuts.

Whether you're wild about walnuts, crazy about cashews, or mad for macadamias, a handful of nuts is an excellent choice for health-conscious snacking. Not only are they crunchy and delicious, they deliver a lot of nutrition in a convenient bite-sized package.

Protein Power For Maximum Health

Nuts are high in protein, an absolute essential in every diet. Proteins play many important roles in overall health; they're best known as the the building blocks for muscle, but they're also crucial to just about all aspects of body function. Adequate protein is important for everything from mental alertness to immunity, smooth skin and hair to cell regeneration - simply put, without enough protein the entire body suffers, and nuts are an excellent source.

Healthy Fat For Strong Hearts

There's no way nuts can be considered a low-fat food, but the fat they contain is mostly unsaturated, which means they actually contribute to heart health. In fact the US Food and Drug Administration endorses certain nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts as a viable choice for a heart-healthy diet; in 2003 the FDA approved the following health claim for nut packaging: "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."

Fiber For Fullness And Efficient Digestion

Nuts are high in fiber, which promotes regularity. Fiber is also a major component in satiety, or the feeling of satisfaction after eating; a small serving of nuts can keep you feeling fuller longer than a heaping helping of a low-fiber food. That makes nuts a wise choice for dieters.

Pay Attention to Serving Size

Nuts aren't low calorie, so it's important to pay attention to serving size. Almonds, pistachios, and cashews all come in at about 160 calories per one-ounce serving. Hazelnuts and peanuts (which technically aren't nuts, but are usually treated as such) are slightly more calorie-costly at 170 calories per ounce. Brazil nuts and walnuts are about 190 calories per ounce, and pecans, walnuts, and macadamias are about 200 calories per ounce.

If you're serious about keeping calories in control, a food scale is invaluable when measuring out servings of nuts. It takes about 45 pistachios but only 8 Brazil nuts weigh in at an ounce.

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