I’ve been teaching about healthy eating for a long time. I can remember back when the commonly accepted recommendation was to cut out nuts due to the amount of fats and calories. We’re not saying this anymore.
I probably don’t really need to talk most people into eating nuts. This is a fairly easy sell for most.
Current research shows that nuts can be part of a healthy diet. The most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we all “choose a variety of protein foods, which includes seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, nuts, seeds and soy products.” They also recommend limiting the intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replacing them with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils.
Proponents of the Mediterranean Diet say to aim for at least three-ounces of nuts per week. Now this doesn’t mean to eat nuts on top of what you’re eating now. The key is to have nuts INSTEAD of the other potentially less healthful foods.
Nuts are easy to overdo and do have lots of calories. One ounce of nuts can range from about 160 to 200 calories—depending upon the type of nut. On the other hand, nuts are good sources of fiber, protein, magnesium, copper, potassium, folic acid and vitamin B. One ounce is a small handful or about 1/4 cup. If it comes down to counting: 14 walnut halves and 24 almonds, 16 cashews, 45 pistachios or 18 pecan halves.
Single serving packs of nuts are also available to purchase ready to go. I know you’re probably saying it’s cheaper to make your own, but for some people that just doesn’t work https://news.nutritioneducationstore.com/perspective/.
I’ve never really been a snack or protein bar person so putting a little bag of nuts in my gym bag to take to the pool is an easy choice. They are portable and I don’t need to worry about food safety or a banana getting squished at the bottom of the bag.
I do make my own portion controlled bags from bulk nuts. I like to toast the nuts before I put them into the little bags—I just think the flavor is better. I dry roast them in a fry pan. Slow heat or they burn easily. My favorites are pecans, but just pick your favorite or go for a combination of mixed nuts.
Grab and go.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University