Sometimes, just once in a while, we get to eat the stuff we like anyway, because it is actually good for us. Luckily, tree nuts are part of a heart-healthy diet. And unlike Brussels sprouts and carrot juice, nuts appeal to most of us and the elders in our care.
Why eat nuts?
- Help improve the body’s reaction to stress
- Can reduce the risk of heart disease (as part of a heart-healthy diet) by maintaining healthy cholesterol and glucose levels
- Good protein source, although high in unsaturated fat (which is okay in moderation)
- Good for heart health (Only walnuts, which have Omega-3 fatty acids)
- Can be a good source of antioxidants, which support our immune system and help to prevent cancer (Pecans, walnuts and chestnuts)
Could you, would you, should you eat nuts?!?
- Skip the salted nuts. The salt can raise blood pressure and lead to stroke.
- Take a small handful, about twice a week as a satisfying snack.
- Add a small amount (up to 1 tablespoon) to another protein, such as toasted pecans sprinkled on top of broiled fish.
- Sprinkle walnuts, pecans, or almonds on a spinach and lettuce salad with pears or strawberries. Dress the salad with a balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette. (Hello gourmet salad!)
- Stir nuts into baked goods before cooking (toast them first, for even more flavor!)
- Add nuts to morning oatmeal, along with blueberries, for a crunchy, super- fiber, antioxidant, and heart healthy breakfast.
- Even vegetables can be better with nuts- add toasted almonds to steamed green beans which have been seasoned with a touch of butter and garlic. Baked Sweet potatoes are wonderful with a touch of butter and toasted pecans. Voila!
Tricks with nuts:
- Toasting nuts amps up their flavor. You use less and taste more. Here’s the easiest way: put them into a skillet, stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes, over medium heat, until they brown slightly. Immediately remove from the pan, as they will keep toasting while exposed to heat. The finer the piece of nut, the faster it will toast, so a sliced almond might take 1 minute or less while a whole almond might take 5-8 minutes.
- Store nuts in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Eating a few almonds, (unsalted, of course), is a great way to stop nausea.
Inspired by an article on nuts in the Omaha World Herald.