I always try to do things that count double or triple. So going on one errand usually means trying to jiu jitsu a way to cover at least three checklist items, plus parking far enough away to force me to collect a bunch of steps (a fourth checklist item).  I know. It’s annoying. But on the bright side, this quirky parking/step strategy may cause potential stalkers or nefarious surveillance operatives to quit in exasperation, so … 

…when it comes to eating, you can call me a little nutty, but I try to get as much positive bang as I can for each calorie and seek bonus points by eating stuff with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. One of the things I try to eat every day offers many bonus points, not the least of which is, I think they taste great, they come in many flavors, shapes, and sizes, and they pair well with another of my favorite things (raisons). To top it off, there is strong scientific evidence that they are good for you as long as neither you nor others in close proximity have nut allergies.   

Why am I nuts for the nut? Again, I’m no doctor and not an expert, but if you are not allergic and want some free upside to your snacks, salads, recipes and even desserts…then it’s nutty not to eat nuts.

What’s so good about tree nuts such as [1]

  • Almonds-source of (the healthy) unsaturated fat, protein and fiber
  • Brazil nuts-lots of selenium to fight inflammation and several types of cancer
  • Cashews-have fat, but not the “bad” fat so better to fill up on these, whole or as butter
  • Hazelnuts-cool name, sorta rolls off the tongue
  • Macadamia nuts-contain soluble fiber, acts as a prebiotic feeding “good” gut bacterium
  • Pecans-help lower blood pressure and some evidence they reduce type 2 diabetes in women
  • Pine nuts- through several mechanisms, they may help regulate blood sugar levels thus reducing diabetes risk, possibly due to healthy fats, phenolic compounds, or manganese they contain
  • Pistachios-high in antioxidants that may reduce inflammation
  • Walnuts-may help protect you against prostate cancer, keep brain sharp as you age
  • Peanuts are, technically legumes but have a similar nutrition profile-full of protein

Well, they are a fantastically versatile, compact, convenient source of nutrients.  Nuts give you protein, fat—mostly monounsaturated (good) fat and have been shown not to contribute to obesity—fiber, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Manganese, Selenium.  Come on, where else are you getting 56% of your recommended daily Selenium?[2]  They vary, but are a relatively low in carbohydrates and are truly fantastic sources of antioxidants which are important because they neutralize free radicals—those unstable molecules that damage our cells increasing our risk for disease.

Nuts (and peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter…) get a bad rap because they appear to be high in fat and calories, but they don’t have the “bad fat” and studies show they can help you lose weight[3], especially in one large study where people eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts lost more inches. Despite the high caloric numbers in nuts, the body seems not to absorb all the calories since a portion remains trapped in the nut’s fibrous wall during digestion[4]  Nuts also have been shown to lower triglycerides and show impressive effects on cholesterol due to their high concentrations of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that reduce the “bad”/LDL cholesterol and raise the “good/HDL”

As noted above:

  • Nuts are high in fiber which the body can’t digest but bacteria in our colon can so nut fiber functions as a prebiotic that promotes healthy gut bacteria that ferment the fiber and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that improve gut health and may reduce risk for diabetes and obesity.  And fiber helps us feel full and reduces the calories we absorb from meals
  • Nuts may significantly lower our risk of heart attack and stroke because eating them increases “bad” LDL particle size so they aren’t absorbed and raises “good” HDL cholesterol which improves artery function and has various other benefits

So, nuts in moderation are a versatile, easily access and stored, tasty food that offers lots of benefits when included in a healthy diet.  Go nuts!

[1] Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-f, Franziska Spritzler, updated 1/17/29

[2] A trace mineral the body needs in small amounts to protect against infection, chronic disease and regulate hormones produced by the thyroid, and it’s a potent antioxidant working to prevent cell damage caused by again, lifestyle choices and environmental conditions, such as pollution (thanks Nourish by WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-selenium#1)

[3] Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts reduces waist circumference…. ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24075767/)

[4] Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18716179/