Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going Nuts?

After a question from a relative recently, I decided to share some information about nuts with you.  Over the next few posts I will go into more detail about specific kinds of nuts, but today I'll start with some general nutrition information.

Nuts appear in Canada's Food Guide as part of the Meat and Alternatives group.  A serving of nuts is 1/4 cup or 60 mL (which would be a small handful or about the size of a golf ball).  If you are using nut butters one serving is equal to two tablespoons.  Nuts are nutrient and energy dense - because they are energy dense (or high in calories) we need to keep the portions small and under control.  The calories do come from healthy fats - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which can have a positive effect on our health by reducing inflammation and helping control blood cholesterol levels.  Including nuts as part of your eating plan may help reduce blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer for instance.

Nuts can help add texture and flavour to cereal, muffins, salads, stirfries, and trailmix.  Since they provide protein, fat, and fibre they also help to satisfy your hunger and help you feel full for longer.  Nuts also contain a variery of different vitamins and minerals which are essential to your health.  I will go into more detail about the vitamins and minerals for the specific types of nuts.

Just like you need to watch the portion size, also look for added salt, sugar, fat, and other flavourings which can take away from the nutritional value.  Look for raw or dry roasted (without oil) nuts to get the healthier ones.  You can bring out the flavours by lightly toasting nuts at 350F on an ungreased baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes (stir or shake them often so they don't burn!). 

Come back soon to learn about almonds, pecans, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, and more...

Steph Wheler
something nutrishus counselling & coaching