Nuts are a healthy snack food. Eating up to 50 grams a day may improve heart health. One serving usually equates to about 30 grams.
Nuts are divided into two main groups – tree nuts (e.g. cashews, almonds, walnuts and macadamias) and ground nuts (e.g. peanuts). Allergies to one type do not indicate an allergy to another group. Most allergies are caused by peanuts and other nut allergies are rare. It is important for anyone who has a specific allergy to ensure they avoid consuming that item and read food labelling identify which foods contain traces.
Nuts contain fat, but most are polyunsaturated and may actually reduce cholesterol. These fats help keep you feeling full, which can assist in managing food consumption. They also contain a lot of protein, which may be beneficial in a vegetarian diet. Other ingredients include fibre which improves bowel function, antioxidants, minerals (e.g. copper, selenium, zinc and manganese) and lots of vitamin E. They are included in many weight loss diets as they are high in fibre, very filling – reduce appetite, many of the kilojoules /calories they contain are not absorbed, and they increase the metabolic rate by using energy for their digestion.
Nuts are a good replacement for meat products in vegetarian or vegan diet.
It is important to note that while they are a healthy snack, most purchasable varieties come salted or flavoured, e.g. chocolate covered. Be conscientious when purchasing, as extra additions to the product can increase sodium or fat intake. You may wish to purchase them unsalted.