Nuts are among nature’s healthiest offerings. They are nutritional powerhouses presented in bite-size packages, yet powerful in heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Once you learn what the individual varieties have to offer, they can be a great boon to your diet.
Do keep in mind nuts are high in fat and calories. By themselves, a small handful at a time, they very healthy. Often, however, nuts are combined with salty mixes or sugary toppings, and that can be diet sabotage.
All nuts have approximately the same calories per ounce, so the key is to use them in moderation. Judy Caplan, RD, is a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She says:
Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite.
There are no “bad” nuts, but when you’re on a diet, some varieties are better than others.
The best nuts to consume when you’re on a diet are:
Almonds are the lowest-calorie nuts, at just 160 calories per ounce. Twenty-three nuts will provide you with six grams of protein and fourteen grams fat. Sixteen to eighteen cashews will give you five grams of protein and thirteen grams of fat. Forty-nine pistachios provide six grams protein and thirteen grams of fat.
The best way to eat nuts is raw. If you do consume roasted nuts, choose dry roasted rather than nuts packaged or roasted in oil. Not only does roasting in oil add calories, but the oil is usually hydrogenated, unhealthy fat.
The worst nuts to eat on a diet are:
1. Macadamia nuts
Macadamias and pecans are the nuts with most calories, ounce for ounce. Each ounce of those two varieties pack a full 200 calories, and the lowest amounts of protein and highest level of fats. Ten or twelve macadamia nuts have only two grams of protein, but a full twenty-one grams of fat. Eighteen to twenty pecan halves have three grams of protein and twenty grams of fat.
These varieties are still healthy, however. The difference between the highest and lowest calorie nuts is only about forty calories per ounce. Caplan recommends you practice careful portion control. Just don’t down handfuls at a time, and any kind of raw nut, as long as it’s not part of a high-salt or high-sugar treat, is a healthy choice.
The healthiest choice overall? Don’t pick just one – enjoy a small serving of mixed nuts, ideally raw and unsalted, and get a full array of nutrients and antioxidants.