Whenever most people feel for a snack it’s tempting to grab a bag of something salty and crunchy, like chips. Or maybe something sweet like candy. Well, it would be against health and fitness ethics if I said those were reasonable snacks. Instead, I recommend eating nuts as a good snack.
Yes, I’ll say it, eat nuts when you feel for a snack. From sweet raw cashews to salty roasted peanuts, you can’t go wrong eating nuts. In this article, I’ll explain how to make the switch and why they’re so healthy.
Fans of the paleo diet know that nuts have long been a critical part of human nutrition. They were easy to collect and relatively dense sources of nutrients. They’re loaded in the good kinds of fats, such as monounsaturated fats in the form of fatty acids such as oleic and palmitoleic acids, which can lower bad cholesterol. In addition, it has been shown that the high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids might improve brain function and reduce heart disease.
Nuts are chock full of flavonoids, the types of antioxidants also found in fruits and vegetables which have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of cancer and are far more crucial to overall wellbeing than previously realized. In particular, they contain high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been proven to greatly reduce the risk of cancer, even when exposed to known carcinogens. Nuts are also high in minerals, though the precise composition varies from one type of nut to the next.
Roasting nuts can sometimes bring out the flavor, but may be harmful in some cases. While a study from 2011 showed that the antioxidants in cashews become more bioavailable when roasted, another study demonstrated that a carcinogen is produced by roasting almonds. In general, most nuts are good to eat raw, and some are okay to have roasted. Raw nuts also have a natural sweetness that you wouldn’t expect. Try raw nuts with some dried fruit (no sugar added!) as a sweet replacement for candy snacks. Also, watch out for salt content in packaged nuts. It can send your blood pressure through the roof.
My local farmers’ market has a couple stalls selling fresh, raw, local nuts. I love to stock up on raw almonds, pecans, and walnuts there. However, if you don’t have that luxury, here are some packaged nuts that aren’t bad.
Emerald Nuts Mixed Nuts – a mix of pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, and two types of almonds. Notable for not filling in with cheap peanuts, this mix is my favorite salty snack, though the nuts are all roasted and salted.
Raw Nuts – various raw nuts for sale on amazon. Also, local high end grocery chains such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stock raw nuts. Note that I find good quality raw walnuts and pecans have far more flavor and health properties than the cheap bags found in the baking aisle.