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Think Twice Before You Nix Nuts from Your Diet

  [ 15 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • June 2, 2003

It's true that nuts are generally high in calories and fat, but eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet, these nutrient-dense nuggets offer potential health benefits, according to the June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Nuts have a lot of nutrients in relation to calories. Some nuts are good sources of thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and folate. Others are excellent sources of selenium, copper, magnesium and manganese. They are also rich in flavonoids. These antioxidants help reduce by-products in the body that may contribute to cancer and cardiovascular disease. For their size, nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein.

In general, nuts are high in fat -- in most cases, more than 75 percent of their calories are from fat. But most of the fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, the fats that don't appear to increase blood cholesterol.

Several studies suggest that when substituted for saturated fat, nuts may help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol -- the "bad" cholesterol. And a number of studies report that people who eat nuts regularly have a lower risk of heart disease than people who don't eat nuts.

To eat nuts healthfully, try substituting an ounce of nuts for an ounce of meat. Instead of roast beef on whole wheat bread for lunch, try a natural nut butter on bread. Add crunch to salad by sprinkling on nuts instead of croutons. Chopped nuts add crunch and flavor to yogurts, cereals and even the tops of casseroles.

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