Nuts in Your Gym Bag

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

 

Top 10 Foods for Better Health

A new study out of Boston suggests that focusing on 10 specific foods in your diet may cut the risk of premature death from diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease by almost half.

The author of the study, Renata Micha from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University says that about 45% of US deaths in 2012 could be traced to eating too little or too much of certain foods. Her study draws information from previous research done using National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 1999 to 2002 and 2009 to 2012. The researchers used food diaries of participants and found that 318,656 deaths out of 702,308 from stroke, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes were based on people eating too much or too little of the following 10 foods or food elements…

Too Much:

  • Sodium
  • Unprocessed red meat
  • Processed red meat (sausage, bacon, hot dogs)
  • Soybean and corn oil
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks

Too Little:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood with omega-3 fatty acids

For example, consuming too much sodium was linked with 66,508 deaths. Poor nut and seed intake was associated with 59,374 deaths. Processed read meat intake was associated with 57,766 deaths, while 54,626 deaths were linked with inadequate fatty fish intake. Minimal vegetable and fruit intake was linked to 53,410 and 52,547 deaths, respectively. Sugar-sweetened drinks were tied to 51,695 deaths.

Demographics also made a difference. For example, men and women fared differently in the study. Women were less likely than men to die from poor diets and younger people were at higher risk than older individuals. Hispanics and blacks had higher risk than whites, and individuals with less education were at higher risk than more educated people.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased by 25% between the two survey periods because of improvements in dietary habits such as eating more polyunsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and fewer sugar-sweetened drinks.

Consumers can reduce their risk for chronic disease by adopting one dietary habit at a time (such as eating fatty fish twice per week or choosing water over sweetened beverages) and then moving on to another positive habit once they’ve mastered the first. This helps build confidence and motivate people to continue building healthful eating patterns to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Micha, Renata, PhD, Penalvo Jose, PhD, Cudhea PhD, et. al. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924
  2. Mueller, Noel T., PhD, MPH, Appel, Lawrence J. Attributing Death to Diet Precision Counts. JAMA. 2017;317(9):908-909.