Go Nuts!

by Dave on October 15, 2009

by Lisa Harkins

It seems like everyone these days is nuts for nuts…peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts. Which nut to choose? Although there are some subtle caloric and nutrient differences, picking a nut to nosh is really dependent upon your taste buds. Let’s review three of the most popular below.

A ball-park favorite, the peanut is probably the most palatable people-pleaser. Peanuts contain 166 calories per one ounce serving (about two tablespoons), almost 7 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and only about 1 gram of sugar. Concerning fats, peanuts contain about 7 grams of monounsaturated fats, about 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and less than 2 grams of saturated fats. They are also a good source of Niacin (B3) as well as folic acid and choline.

Although the peanut is the number one nut in America, the almond has surpassed it as the number one nut in new food product releases in 2009, accounting for 29% of the nut global market share. Almonds are particularly popular for their compatibility with a variety of foods. It makes a lot more sense for my clients to get a protein and good fat boost by adding almonds to their yogurt or oatmeal in the morning than peanuts. And has anyone heard of green beans peanutdine? Almonds contain 169 calories per one ounce serving, 6 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and about 1 gram of sugar. Concerning fats, almonds contain about 9.5 grams of monounsaturated fats, about 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and about 1 gram of saturated fats. They are also a good source of calcium, potassium, as well as Vitamin E.

Increased consumption of walnuts has been shown to decrease risk of dementia (which is interesting since these little guys happen to look a lot like our grey matter). This is due to the higher amounts of ALA (alpha- linoleic acid), an essential fatty acid, in this particular nut. One ounce of walnuts contains 185 calories, 4 grams of protein, about 4g of carbs, about 2g of fiber, and less than 1 gram of sugar. Concerning fats, walnuts contain about 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fats, about 13 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and less than 2 grams of saturated fats.

So no matter which nut you choose, you now know you are getting a good for you snack chock full of good fats, protein, as well as some important vitamins and minerals. Just remember: fats, no matter if saturated or unsaturated, contain nine calories per gram – so take it easy on portion-size. Measure out two tablespoons in little baggies-don’t munch right out of the package! Like everything else, you can go nuts for nuts – just in moderation!

Lisa Harkins is a clinical registered dietitian with Bayhealth Medical Centers and the owner of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC (www.idealnutritionandfitness.com). You can reach her at lisa@idealnutritionandfitness.com. Follow her on twitter.com: LewesRD. Become a fan of her business, Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC on facebook.com.

This column first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, August 20, 2009.

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