NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Need a quick snack? Nibble on a nut! A handful a day can help keep you healthy!

nuts, heart healthy, fiber, unsaturated fat

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Though nuts are a higher-fat food, it is mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat and may help lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol). The fat, protein and fiber in nuts help you feel full longer, so you may eat less during the day. If you choose unsalted or lightly salted nuts, you are keeping your sodium intake under control, too. By helping induce a feeling of satiety, nuts may help people feel less deprived and not like they're "dieting." Just limit your portion.

If you are trying to manage your calories, keep the following in mind. A 1-ounce serving of almonds (24 nuts) has about 160 calories and 6 grams of protein. A 1-ounce serving of peanuts (28 peanuts) has about 170 calories and 7 grams of protein.

Researchers have linked eating nuts on a near-daily basis with living longer, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers used food intake data from 119,000 men and women during 30 years of study. The men and women in the study were health professionals who filled out food and lifestyle surveys every two to four years.

The "frequent nut eaters" reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 29 percent, and they reduced their risk of dying from cancer by 11 percent. In fact, eating any type of nut (whether oil-roasted, dry roasted, salted or unsalted) appeared to have a positive effect on health.

When reading about studies such as this, keep in mind that there are no "magic foods" that will erase the effects of a long-term poor diet or lack of exercise. Aim for an overall healthful lifestyle and include some nuts as snacks or as part of recipes.

Store nuts properly to extend their good flavor. Because of their high fat content, nuts are prone to becoming rancid or off-tasting. You can extend the fresh taste of nuts by storing them in airtight containers in your refrigerator (up to six months) or by freezing them (up to one year).

 Here's a sweet treat that makes a welcome homemade gift for friends during the holidays.

Glazed Pecans

1 c. shelled pecans

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

Put pecans, sugar and salt into a large nonstick skillet. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat. Cook sugar-nut mixture until sugar melts and turns a rich, golden color. Transfer nut mixture to a plate(s) so there is one layer per plate and let cool slightly.

Consider these tips: If you are making a large batch, use more than one large nonstick skillet to more evenly coat all off the pecans with sugar glaze. Keep a close eye on the pans because the sugar can burn easily. Try using different kinds of nuts or a mixture of nuts. Store in an airtight container and consume within a week.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., North Dakota State University Extension Service  food and nutrition specialist

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