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Got Nuts?
Written By : Bruce Kaler, MD 
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If you don't... you should. There has been a proliferation of good information about the benefit of including nuts in your diet. Many healthy things seem to be associated with people who eat at least 1.5 to 2 oz of nuts daily.

It has long been known that nuts are a good source of fiber and protein. Some people try to avoid them because of the high calorie count due to the fats associated with nuts. The good news is the unsaturated fats in most nuts are the "good fats". They have been proven to have a beneficial effect in lowering total cholesterol, raising HDL the "good cholesterol", as well as a healthy substitute for snack foods, or as replacement for meat and cheese that typically have the "bad fats" and the effects we are trying to avoid.

Studies have shown that people can lose weight and better satisfy their hunger cravings by including a small serving of nuts daily, as part of their diet whether their trying to lose weight or not. The calories and high content of good fats is not something to avoid as long as they are used in moderation. Scientists think that some of the fats from nuts may not be absorbed. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and peanuts all have been shown to be heart healthy when added to an otherwise low fat diet. Nuts are a good source of several other nutrients and vitamins that have beneficial effects on heart disease.

Much has been in the press recently about nut allergies and their dangers. This has been overstated as pointed out in a recent column by Dr. Nicholas Christakis internist and professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Christakis reminds us that 3.3 million Americans are allergic to nuts. Even more, 6.9 million , suffer from seafood allergies. Each year there are more than 30 million hospitalizations, just 2,000 are due to food allergies. About 150 people die annually from serious allergic food reactions. That's the same number of people killed by bee stings and lightning strikes combined. About 10,000 children are hospitalized annually with traumatic brain injuries from sports, 2,000 children drown each year, and about 1,300 die in gun accidents. 35,000 people die each year from complications of the flu. This is not to diminish the tragedy or frustration that happens to people with allergies. However, for most of us to feel panic about nuts or utter avoidance is unnecessary.

Moderation is key. Limit yourself to only 2 oz serving daily. Pay attention to salt as too much salt (sodium) is not good for blood pressure and heart disease. A small handful of unsalted nuts daily can be a great addition to your diet and a satisfying snack to keep you going while providing excellent protein and good fats to stay healthy.

So...go nuts!

 
 
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