You want a snack but don’t want to go for those potato chips, ice cream, or granola bar. You see a large container of mixed nuts in your pantry. You have heard nuts have a lot of fat and calories in them. You’ve also heard you should avoid them because they will make you fat. Instead you grab those potato chips as your afternoon snack.

There are numerous reasons why you should have gone for the mixed nuts over the potato chips. Sadly, nuts get a bad reputation. So let’s set the record straight on nuts.

The term “nuts” encompasses a wide variety of foods. Dried seeds like hazelnuts, chestnuts and acorns are considered nuts. More commonly, almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and Brazil nuts are what come to mind when considering nuts. Cashews are the product of a fruit called cashew apples. Peanuts are considered a legume due to the type of plant they comes from. For this blog we will be referring to the typical nuts you would find in a mixed nuts container such as peanuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts and pistachios.

It is true nuts contain fat, calories, protein and fiber. Which doesn’t make them bad for you. They also contain essential unsaturated and monounsaturated fat like omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2, folate and essential minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium and magnesium. Obviously, nuts can be eaten separately and you are welcome to enjoy the benefits of that single type of nuts, but to get a wide variety of nutrients, a handful of mixed nuts will be beneficial.

Do your best to find raw and unsalted mixed nuts to avoid added calories and unnecessary sodium in your diet. If you do buy salted nuts, place the nuts in a colander and shake them to let the extra salt drop off the nuts to lower the amount of sodium in your mixed nuts.

versatile and beneficial

Nuts are a versatile food also. When peanuts are made into peanut butter it becomes a delicious spread perfect for adding nutrients and flavor to almost any dish. Almond butter and cashew butter are delicious as well.

Peanut butter has been shown to lower the risk of ischemic heart disease, overall cardiovascular disease, stroke in women and all-cause mortality in a 2014 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The famous Adventist Health Study validated the relationship between eating nuts and whole wheat bread and the reduction of coronary heart disease.

The research also found that eating nuts one to four times a week lowered the risk of nonfatal heart attacks by 74 percent and lowered the risk of fatal coronary heart disease by 73 percent. Those are incredible percentages from just eating these delicious God-given foods. Please go read more about the Adventist Health Study if you want more information on how eating plant-based meals can improve your health.

I have no issue with people eating potato chips when they want to. Even your friendly dietitian eats potato chips when it’s the right time. But if you are looking for a healthy, protein and nutrient packed food that will keep you full and  that may improve your cardiovascular health, next time reach for those raw and unsalted mixed nuts or nut butters.