In a world where most snacks on supermarket shelves are filled with carbs, sodium, and devoid of nutrition – nuts stand out as a healthier alternative. Raw nuts are loaded with fiber, protein, and cholesterol-friendly monounsaturated fats. Unfortunately, those heart-healthy monounsaturated fats carry a hefty calorie load. Snack on too many nuts and you could have a hard time zipping up your pants.
How Many Nuts a Day?
The key to getting the benefits of eating nuts without putting on weight is to eat them in moderation. How many nuts should you eat to get the benefits without gaining weight? Ideally women should eat about an ounce of nuts each day, while men can safely eat up to two ounces. For women, this is the equivalent of about a small handful of nuts. (no cheating).
The best way to get the benefits without eating too many nuts is to remove a small handful from the jar and set it aside as your daily quota. No snacking out of the jar. Nuts are addictive and you’ll usually eat more than you planned to – if you eat out of the jar. If you have a kitchen scale, you can weigh out an ounce of nuts and portion them out as an all-day snack. Choose a mixture of nuts for maximal health and nutritional benefits.
How Many Nuts and What Types are Best?
Walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic-acid (ALA) which the body converts to omega-3 fatty acids, although this conversion isn’t very efficient. There are about fourteen walnuts halves in an ounce, which will supply you with 190 calories.
Almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin that helps to keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to the arteries – leading to heart disease. An ounce of almonds equals around 22 nuts and has 160 calories.
Brazil nuts are one of the highest in calories, but they’re the best source of selenium, a mineral with antioxidant benefits – and if you want more antioxidants, don’t forget about pecans. This modest nut has more antioxidant power than any of the others.
Pistachios stand out because they’re slightly lower in calories than other nuts, yet studies show that munching on raw pistachios helps to lower the risk of heart disease. If you buy them in the shell, you’ll eat them more slowly too. Unfortunately, only seven Brazil nuts will set you back 190 calories, but they’re quite large. Twenty pecan halves have around 200 calories.
Cashews have the lowest fat content of any nut – and most of the fat is the healthy, monounsaturated kind. Seventeen cashews have 160 calories.
How Many Nuts a Day: The Bottom Line?
All nuts are good for you if you eat them in moderation. They’re part of a heart-healthy diet and they’re a guilt-free snack, but don’t get carried away and eat too many nuts. You may regret it when you step on the scale.
World’s Healthiest Foods website.