Hi, my name is Elaine and I am a nut addict. Almonds, cashews, walnuts… it doesn’t matter what kind, put them in front of me and I will devour them all! Will someone please intervene to stop the madness?! Okay, I may be a bit over-reacting, however when I eat a handful of these tiny nutrient-packed gems, I can’t help but reach for another handful and maybe one more. Before I discuss the bad nature of eating too many nuts, allow me to share the reasons why nuts as part of your daily diet are a healthy addition:
- Healthy fats – the unsaturated kind, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated helps improve cholesterol levels (when used to replace saturated and trans fats) according to the American Heart Association. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fat, the plant- based alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which research has proven is just as effective in preventing cardiovascular disease as DHA and EPA – the type of omega 3’s commonly found in fish. Although more research still needs to be done, ALA can also reduce inflammation and help prevent arthritis.
- Excellent source of plant-based protein – An ounce of almonds and pistachios contains 6 g comparable to an ounce of meat, fish, or poultry which contains 7 g.
- Chock-full of vitamins and minerals – Most nuts (almonds and hazelnuts maximize the absoption) are good sources of manganese which is essential for healthy bones, helps control blood sugar and also known to be a remedy for sprains and inflammation. This infographic at the end of this post shows all the vitamins and minerals nuts have to offer, plus other great information.
- Packed with anti-oxidants – Walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts are among the dietary plants that contains the highest amount.
- Lower risk of diabetes – a number of research has shown that eating nuts can help reduce the risk. This one study focused on those with prediabetes and consuming pistachios with the end of result of lower glucose levels and insulin resistance. Another study showed that eating almonds with a carbohydrate meal such as bread reduced the glycemic index thereby preventing a blood sugar spike if only the bread was consumed. (Note: I read a recent article on CNN how ‘Diabetes quadrupled in the past 3 decades’ -a frightening statistic!)
With all these benefits, what’s the hoopla with a few handfuls more?
Possible weight gain – No surprise here. Eating too much of anything can lead to weight gain. But nuts are more caloric-dense that a small amount equates to a lot of calories. For example, 1/4 c of walnuts has 200 calories compared to 1/4 c of sliced strawberries with 23 calories. I could be eating a 500+ calorie snack if I don’t pay attention.
GI distress – there are compounds in nuts (lectins and phytic acid) that are hard to digest and when eaten in copious amounts can cause gas, bloating, and worse damage to your gut lining. Soaking nuts is a recommendation to decrease the amount of these compounds.
My Plan of Action: Time to break out the measuring cups! I’m not the type of person to measure what I eat but it’s what I have to do to stop my nut-binge habit.
Are you a nut addict? Any other recommendations on how I can stop this madness?
Here’s a cool infographic about nuts I found on Greatist: