by Jordana Haspe
Looking for something to nosh on? Sure, you’re drawn to Slim Jims and candy bars, but resist. There’s another option available anywhere from the most basic gas station shop to the most upscale health food marketnutsspecifically, unsalted nuts or (better yet) unsalted raw nuts. They’ve gotten a bad rap in the past because of their fat content, but more and more studies are discovering that even their fat can be good for you.
How can fat be good? When it’s unsaturated. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. On the other hand, unsaturated fat, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, can actually lower your cholesterolnot the healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL), but the artery-clogging low-density lipoprotein. In fact, eating 1.5 ounces of nuts, five days a week, has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Here are some other nutty benefits:Protein. Nuts are high in protein, making them a great pick-me-up between meals. Sure, a candy bar might boost your energy because of all the sugar, but only very briefly, and then you’re headed for a crash. So grab some trail mix instead and you’ll be good until your next meal. Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are a source of omega-3s, which are usually found in fish. This nutrient helps fight heart disease, and may also help fight inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Antioxidants and phytochemicals. Nuts contain antioxidants, which protect your body against cell damage. This may help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments. Several nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and Brazils, are good sources of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium.
Weight loss. No, eating nuts won’t make you lose weight. But they can be an important part of an all-around healthy diet. Remember, when you choose nuts, you’re skipping that candy bar or those chips. Nuts also have fiber, which helps you feel full so you won’t need to eat as much. But you don’t want to overindulge on nuts eitherthey’re pretty addicting. So measure out the amount you want to eat instead of grabbing them straight from the bag.