You can eat them plain, add them to a plenty of delicious dishes, use nut flour to make baked goods, or make your own nut milk and nut butters. When it comes to nuts, the possibilities are endless. These little fruits are amazingly versatile, and come in many different varieties, allowing one to experience a wide variety of flavors while still getting all of the wonderful benefits that nuts offer.
Many people trying to lose weight tend to steer clear of nuts, due to them being high in fat as well as calories. But in reality, studies have shown that incorporating nuts into one’s diet can actually help a person lose weight—just limit intake to about one handful per day.
Nuts contain about 13 to 18 grams of fat and 160 to 200 calories per 1-ounce serving, and the fat in most nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts) is primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. If you are a big meat and dairy eater, they balance out the types of fats you’re getting daily. They also provide 1 to 7 grams of protein and 1 to 3 grams of dietary fiber per ounce, both of which are important aspects of weight management in combination with the fats, and will help you feel full for longer. A study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people who ate 1 ounce of nuts per day had a lower mortality risk and were leaner than those who ate nuts less than once per week. They had a smaller waist circumference and reduced obesity risk.
Nuts can also help reduce stress, protect against lung and prostate cancer, moderate bad cholesterol and prevent cognitive decline. They are also considered to be heart healthy! These cardioprotective effects are likely associated with their satiety factor, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and cholesterol reducing effects.
Research and current guidelines recommend a portion size of 1.5 ounces, which is about one palmful or 1/4 cup of most nuts, eaten more than five times per week. We suggest experimenting with different flavors, textures, and recipes (think salads, cooked veggies, pasta dishes, and soups) to find your preference. Our recipe for homemade nut milk is a great place to start. Go nuts!
Homemade Nut Milk
Drinking nut milk is a great alternative for someone who is cutting dairy out of their diet. It is also delicious and super easy to make at home!
1 cup nuts (your choice), raw and unsalted
3-4 cups of water, depending on your desired consistency (coconut water can be used for a creamier milk but this will added carbohydrate calories)
Dates, cinnamon, vanilla extract, or honey (optional—depending on your taste)
Sieve, strainer, cheesecloth, or nut bag
- Soak your nuts overnight before blending
- Rinse your soaked nuts and add them to a blender with the water, start with 3 cups and add more depending on the desired consistency
- Add the optional ingredients, if desired
- Blend for about 30 seconds
- Pour mixture through the sieve, strainer, cheesecloth, or nut bag
- Refrigerate and store like normal milk. Be sure to shake before use, to prevent separation
Bonus Tip: You can use the leftover pulp in recipes for baking or you can add it to your garden as a natural compost
By Hayley and Emily, Student Interns
Edited by Flannery
Today’s Dietitian, January 2015
“Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
Melnick, Meredith. “Healthy Nuts: Health Benefits For Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Peanuts And More.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.