January 11, 2010

Just Plain Nuts!

Nothing can sabotage healthy eating more than unhealthy snacks. With today’s on the go lifestyle, snacks have become a huge part of our lives. It seems as though half of the average grocery store is made up of these sugary foods.

One of the healthiest snacks that you can take with you is raw nuts. Eat one to four ounces of raw nuts a day (about one handful) for a filling snack that has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.

Walter Willett M.D., chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests that the most likely cause of reduced heart disease is the fact that nuts are loaded with an amino acid called arginine. Known for protecting the inner lining of arterial walls by making them more pliable, arginine helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Here is one of my favorite trail mix recipes that is easy to make and take with you for a snack on the go:
--3 oz. of raw nuts (fill the palm of your hand)
--1 oz. 70-85% dark chocolate
--1 oz. dried coconut shreds

Typically I buy raw, unsalted nuts from Target, dark chocolate bars are available at most grocery stores and coconut shreds from a health food store.
In small amounts, nuts can be a great weight loss snack. Just be careful not to eat too many as nuts are very calorie-dense. The best raw, unsalted nuts to eat are: macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios, brazil nuts and walnuts. Try to stay away from peanuts due to their inflammatory nature.
Remember to wash your hands after eating nuts as many people have life-threatening nut allergies.

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