Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nuts are Great Foods for Losing Weight

I used to hear that nuts were foods to avoid when trying to lose weight. The rationale was they are high in calories.

Well, they are a nutritionally dense food, so yes they pack some calories. They also have a great blend of protein, fiber and the good kind of fats.

The "good" fats in nuts can help lower your cholesterol levels. Eating nuts on a regular basis may also help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes!

Nuts can help us in our weight loss goals, too. The fiber and protein help provide a fuller feeling and when eaten before high-carb foods can help prevent your blood sugar from soaring. The fats provide satiety. You just don't feel like you are on a diet when you are eating nuts!

Two tips on nuts: how they are prepared and the amount.

The best nuts are raw nuts. Avoid the roasted ones. Roasted nuts have added oils which are not needed. The heating of those oils creates partially hydrogenated oil.

An ounce of nuts is pretty much a serving. That's not handfuls, but it is plenty. Obviously, the number of nuts in one ounce depends on the type of nut. Here's a rough estimate-- 24 almonds, 14 walnut halves, 20 pecan halves or hazelnuts or about 30 peanuts.

I find the key to eating nuts and not going overboard is to dole out my portion before I start to eat. I typically enjoy less than 1/2 ounce at any one time and I find that very satisfying. I put them in a small dish to eat plain, or put them in my foods. I love nuts in my salads and even mixed in my yogurt. Chop up some nuts and add them to vegetables, or to your main dish.

Nuts add textural variety and additional protein and fiber. And it doesn't take much!

If you are allergic to nuts you can get the "good" fats (monounsaturated) from avocados, olives, canola oil, olive oil and yes, dark chocolate. All of these foods are going to be high in calories because they are high in fats, but if you stick to small portions the benefits are fantastic!

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