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Eat Nuts For Good Health

Posted: October 18, 2014

Thursday is National Nut Day, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the health benefits of tree nuts. Nuts not only taste great, but they are loaded with nutrition...

They are high in protein and fiber. Some are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. Nuts are also high in fat, but it’s the heart healthy fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
     Nuts are dense in calories and can easily add extra calories in your diet so the key is to watch your portions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends up to 1½ ounces, or 1½ handfuls of nuts daily. A handful equals about 1 ounce. That equates to 14 walnut halves, 18 cashews, 19 pecan halves, 49 pistachios, 23 almonds, or 28 peanuts.
     While nuts are a great nutrient-dense food, they can be a huge concern to those with nut
allergies. Some common allergic symptoms include hives, itchy eyes, asthma, sneezing, swelling, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Some people are severe in their reactions which may lead to death. Many nut allergies are detected at a young age. Due to the increasing number of individuals with nut allergies, products containing nuts or produced near nuts must be labeled.

     Some ideas for incorporating nuts into your diet include:

  • sprinkle them over cereal or yogurt for breakfast.

  • mix them with popcorn or trail mix to make a great to-go snack.

  • add sliced or chopped nuts to any salad for flavor and crunch.

  • use them and seasonings to coat meat, poultry, or fish before baking.
  • accent any stir-fry with toasted nuts to develop a tastier combination.
  • use them in desserts such as brownies and cookies for an added crunch.

     Nuts can be enjoyed in many ways from eating out of hand to tossed in salads to included in breads and desserts. They also make great gifts such as the cinnamon spiced nuts recipe below.
     Cinnamon Spiced Nuts
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. vanilla or almond extract
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
3 cups mixed salted nuts
     Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease a large shallow baking pan or jellyroll pan. With a fork, beat egg white and vanilla until foamy. Beat in sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Pour over nuts and mix well to coat nuts. Spread nuts in pan. Bake 30 minutes, mixing after 15 minutes. Remove from pan to a shallow bowl and allow to cool. Nuts will become crisp when cool. Break apart large clumps. Place in jars, cover. Makes 5 cups.
  
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lackawanna County.