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Nuts and seeds are good nutrition

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Many weight-conscious people know that nuts and seeds are high in calories and might shy away from them for that reason. While you need to watch your portion size, it would be a mistake to completely exclude nuts and seeds from your diet.

Nuts and seeds are a source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and antioxidants like vitamin E. They contain fiber and protein, which help fill you up and satisfy your hunger. Nuts and seeds also contain plant substances that might help lower cholesterol.

All nuts and seeds, in general, will contain healthy fat, protein and fiber, but some have slightly different nutrient profiles. And peanuts, while not technically a nut, have similar nutrition. 

Nut consumption has been positively associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. And, as far as weight is concerned, a study of more than 50,000 women reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 discovered that women who more frequently ate nuts tended to gain less weight than women who ate nuts less often.

A serving of nuts is about a handful of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. A serving of seeds, like flaxseed, is usually 2 tablespoons. A single serving of nuts or nut butter provides about 200 calories; a serving of seeds about 60.  

Including a serving of nuts or seeds in your diet each day can be as simple as eating a handful of peanuts for a snack, or adding ground flax seed to your oatmeal. If you would like to try something different, you might be interested in some of the nut and seed products I’ve been experimenting with lately:

Almond butter: Less saturated fat than peanut butter, and contains more magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, fiber, iron and vitamin E.

Sunflower seed butter: If you love roasted sunflower seeds, you will like it. Good with apple slices.

Almond flour: Almond flour or almond meal is simply almonds ground very fine. So far, I’ve used it to make scones and pancakes. Both turned out great!

Chia Seeds: Add a tablespoon or two to your oatmeal or yogurt. When added to liquid, Chia seeds swell to make a gel. Because of this property, they can be used to make jams. Here is a link to the easy recipe I used to make a low-sugar blueberry chia seed jam: ohsheglows.com/2012/06/26/magical-blueberry-vanilla-chia-seed-jam.

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