Nuts provide healthy fats to help fight high cholesterol and heart disease. The Harvard Medical School says eating nuts several times a week can lower your risk of developing heart disease. Walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds and peanuts are all healthy choices. But you can enjoy too much of a good thing. Overindulging in nuts also can have adverse affects.
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Nuts are high in fat. Though most of the fat is unsaturated and beneficial in lowering cholesterol, high fat means high calories. The Harvard Medical School recommends that if you add nuts to your diet, you subtract an equivalent amount of calories elsewhere. If you don't, this healthy snack could help you pack on the pounds.
Nuts are often served salted. This improves taste, but also adds salt to your diet. Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. Choose unsalted varieties, or try adding spices and herbs such as Italian seasoning or chili powder for a tasty, low-salt snack.
Nuts are high-fiber foods, another quality that makes them healthy. You need fiber to aid digestion. But if you aren't accustomed to eating a lot of fiber, consuming large quantities can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhea. Eating too many nuts in front of the television one evening could leave you in misery the next day. The National Institutes of Health reports that adults should consume between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day. A handful of almonds contains 4 grams of fiber, the most of any type of nut, according to Dr. Bill Sears.
How Much Is Too Much?
According to Alice Henneman, a dietician associated with the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, one serving of nuts equals about a third of a cup. Because it's easy to keep eating nuts out of a jar or bag, divide your jar of nuts into individual servings in small plastic bags or jars. Enjoy one package of nuts at a time and fight the temptation to eat more.
- Harvard Health Publications; Nuts and Your Health: Cracking Old Myths; May 2005
- University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension; Nuts for Nutrition; Alice Henneman; March 2004
- Colorado State University Extension; Dietary Fiber; J. Anderson, et al.; December 2010
- Ask Dr. Sears: Health Nuts: Ranking Nuts