In a time where cutting out processed and GMO filled foods is on the rise, we all need more healthy but delicious options when it comes to grabbing that quick snack to keep us going.  Most of us probably know or have heard that nuts are a healthy snack, but do we all know why? Nuts come in so many different ways today… dry roasted, oven roasted, blanched, glazed, covered, and then there are the flavors… spicy, sweet, BBQ, yogurt, sea salt and wasabi are just a few of the flavors lining the shelves. And then you have to choose what kind of nut you want…it can be overwhelming!

Nuts became more popular in the 90’s when research showed they are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, they lower risk of heart disease and cholesterol, and are beneficial for diabetics. More recently nuts have also been linked to brain development, weight control, improving overall eating habits, and reducing the risk of cancer. The newest study is showing evidence that eating one ounce of nuts daily can EXTEND your LIFE and keep you slimmer in the process…I’m in.

Some people get turned off when they learn that nuts have fat. I get that, but this is where the “do we know WHY they are good for us” comes into play. The fat that nuts have in their PURE form is a healthy fat. A fat we need, just like in olive oils and avocados. The difference in calories between the best and worst nuts for you (in their raw form) is only 40 calories an ounce, so no matter which nut you choose, an ounce a day will be healthy and beneficial. Here’s some interesting information about some more common nuts.

Almonds—Besides the well-known fact that almonds lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, almonds are also full of magnesium and potassium.  Magnesium is a calcium channel blocker and enough magnesium in your body means veins and arteries can relax, which improves blood flow and oxygen. Potassium helps with blood pressure and muscle contraction (your heart is a muscular organ).

Cashews—Calcium isn’t the only thing needed to keep our bones healthy. Magnesium is important too! It helps keep your bones strong and your joints flexible. Cashews are full of magnesium. Cashews are also known to help with calming nerves, and we all need that sometimes.

Walnuts—Walnuts have some of the highest levels of omega-3s that help lower cholesterol. Trouble sleeping? Snack on some walnuts before bed, they contain a natural source of melatonin.  They’re also a great snack option for vegetarians who need more omega-3 and protein options.

Pistachios—Vitamin E! So many good reasons where do we start? Healthy skin… cholesterol blocker…protective anti-oxidants with your eye health…we can keep going! Experts say pistachios are one of the best nuts you can eat and the list of reasons why goes on and on.

Pecans—Are you someone looking to improve your digestive health? Before you try OTC pills, try pecans! They are packed with fiber. Oleic Acid is also found in pecans, which helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Hazelnuts—Hazelnuts are full of different types of vitamin B. Our bodies need them to break down fats and carbohydrates for us, providing us with the energy we need to function. Lack of energy is such a common complaint, so try to eat an ounce each day for a month and see how different you feel! B vitamin complex is also great for the health of your nervous system, which helps ease stress, anxiety and depression.

Something I found interesting was when nuts are roasted or hydrogenated in unhealthy fats, oils, and rubs, they do become less healthy and the fat and calories rises per portion, BUT even with those (yummy) flavors it’s shown that if you control your portion size you are still choosing a healthy snack. Health experts suggest checking labels (for calories, sugar and sodium) buying nuts still in shells (it helps to slow down your eating) and if possible, to enjoy nuts in their raw form to gain the best nutritional value from them.

AND if nuts just aren’t for you, throw some nuts into a smoothie. You will be getting as much or more nutritional value as eating them raw. The more you break nuts down before they enter your digestive system the more healthy nutrients your body absorbs. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good smoothie!

In a time where everyone wants to feel and look their best, healthy alternatives for on the go snacks are so important. Here at Shubie’s we have so many great tasting nut options to help make your shopping easy and your snacks healthy. So, check your labels, watch your portions, put down the chips and GO NUTS!