Many patients ask me, should I avoid nuts? Aren’t nuts high in calories and fattening? My answer is that not only is it OK to go nuts, everyone should!! Nuts and seeds are actually critical to optimal health.
Tree nuts lower bad cholesterol (including triglycerides and LDL and total cholesterol) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). In particular, pistachios can lower LDL cholesterol. Almonds and pecans are rich in monounsaturated fat that can decrease triglycerides and increase HDL. Walnuts are rich in the plant form of omega 3 fats which can help lower triglycerides.
For those of you who are prediabetic or have diabetes, nuts help you control your blood sugar. By combining nuts as a healthy snack with a good carbohydrate like a whole fruit such as an apple can lower blood sugar levels. Nuts are also great source of protein, much better than processed protein powders as they also provide healthy fat and phytonutrients.
Replace unhealthy sources of fat like processed and fried foods with nuts. Obviously some of us have allergies to nuts so make sure to be careful before starting on your path to going nuts! Here are some easy ways to add nuts to your diet:
1) Create your own trail mix with pecans, pistachios, almonds, walnuts and cashews, grab a handful and eat it 1-2 times per day.
2) Add your trail mix of nuts to salad or substitute for meat to any meal to eat more plant based.
3) For those of you who are considering intermittent fasting, nuts are a great way to keep yourself full by eating this prior to your fasting period.
Dr. Shad (Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH) is a Stanford-trained medical doctor, associate professor in academic medicine, speaker, and author with expertise in nutrition and culinary medicine, wellness, public health and prevention.
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