“But they are so high in calories!!” this coming from my friend on her 3rd glass of chardonnay. Didn’t you hear? Fat is back! Nuts are totes the jam. High in protein, fiber and vitamins, nuts are lil nutrition powerhouses that are totally having a moment.

And, there is proof in the pudding too. The MIND Diet from the folks at Rush University in Chicago found that an ounce of nuts daily is associated with preventing early onset of dementia. In another study, researchers found that nut consumers can live 2-3 years more than non-nut consumers.

Ok, but back to this calorie situation. Yes, they are “nutrient dense” which is a nice way of saying you get a big bang for your buck.  Nuts are high in calories for their small serving size, in fact, nuts are 80% fat. But they contain good for you unsaturated fat. These fatty acids have heart protective benefits.   We know nut consumers have lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in addition to reducing risk for blood clots. Heart healthy features:

  • Unsaturated fat
  • Omega 3s (heart protective fatty acid found in fish and IN NUTS!)
  • Fiber (this helps keep you full, keeps your GI tract moving and lowers your cholesterol levels)
  • Vitamin E (stops the build up of plaque)
  • Plant sterols (plant compound that lowers cholesterol levels)

But, before you go crazy on the salted mixed nuts at the bar, here are few things to remember.

  • Portion size matters! The serving size is ¼ cup. That is not a typo.
  • Avoid salted nuts.  This means additional sodium.
  • Avoid sugar coated nuts or candy coated nuts. This can lead to too many calories.
  • Stick to raw.

Almonds and walnuts, right? While almonds and walnuts are in center stage most of the time, any nut will do! Hazelnut, brazil nuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts are all fabulous choices.

The take home message for nuts: plant based protein that is full of good fat and will fill you up! Go nuts!