I am often asked about healthy snacks that are not rabbit food! I mean most dieters know that carrot and celery sticks are good choices for between meals – but they just don’t have the satisfaction of a handful of chips!
But that’s exactly why I am nuts about nuts, and YOU should be too!
I know, I know what you are saying,– nuts are fattening aren’t they? Well, yes, they do have a lot of fat, but many studies have shown that nuts in moderation can be very effective in weight control.
You see, all of that fat in nuts represents a lot of stored energy, which translates into power for metabolic processes, and for other weight control things – like exercise. If you think about that all makes sense, I have a couple of dogs who have been chasing squirrels in our yard for years, and they haven’t been able to catch one yet!
Seriously, combine the fat content in nuts with the fact that they are packed with protein and that gives them a very high satiety value. That means instead of empty calories like a bowl of other salty snacks, a mere handful of nuts provides good nutrition and makes you feel full. Basically, when used as part of a proper fitness and diet regimen, nuts can discourage overeating.
How can nuts be fattening and aid in weight loss at the same time?
Actually, it’s not that complicated, in fact, it’s really pretty simple. Nuts have all of these wonderful properties because they are what we call a “complex food.” They are rich in soluble fiber and very dense. What that means is that your body actually has to work harder to absorb and digest them. In the body, using more energy means burning more calories.
A 2008 study published in Journal of Nutrition stated: “it is estimated that between 55-75 percent of the energy contributed by nuts to the overall diet is compensated by lower subsequent energy intake.” Which in English means that even though nuts are high in calories, eating an adequate amount of nuts, does not leave you craving for more “energy” or more food!
In addition to providing this feeling of fullness, some nuts have a very dense structure and require a lot of chewing. Chewing also burns a few calories. And as far as snacking goes, it takes a little more work to crack open shelled nuts, than glomming down handful after handful of chips from a bag, so you can also “slow down” and eat less of a more filling snack.
The Bottom Line on Nuts
Most nuts are also superfoods. If you have read some of my other posts about superfoods, you know that as a group these are packed with vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals, the compounds that give plants their abilities to survive and thrive.
For example, in a study published in Nutrition, pistachios were cited as one of the richest sources of phytochemicals in the nut family. They contain a significant amount of carotenoids, among them lutein, known for potential protection against macular degeneration and lowering heart disease.
The Bottom line is, nuts — in moderation — can aid in successful weight management.
So don’t be afraid to go little nuts with your diet!