Go Nuts for Your Health

illustration by Kate Koenig

Alyssa Simon, Nutrition Columnist

illustration by Kate Koenig

Recently, the dining halls have started offering special salad toppings that includes parmesan cheese, dried cranberries and a variety of nuts. In Hulbert and Mills Dining Halls, these special toppings are located right next to the salad bar. In Wilsbach, they can be found in the Brain Cafe.

Nuts are more than just another salad topper or snack; they contain an abundance of disease-fighting nutrients! There are many different types of nuts that grow all over the world. Some of the more commonly known nuts include almonds, cashews, pistachios and peanuts. Nuts are typically energy dense for a fairly small serving, but they also contain many health benefits that help keep your body happy. Every nut is full of healthy nutrients!

Almonds have become popular over the years as people have discovered more of what you can do with them. Almonds are no longer just roasted and salted; they have been made into almond milk and almond butter, which is similar to peanut butter but made with almonds instead. A serving of almonds is about 1 oz (24 nuts) and contains 170 calories. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant which may help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease. They also contain iron, calcium, fiber and protein.

Cashews are also a well-known nut that is found in a package of mixed nuts, on chicken, or in cashew butter. A serving of cashews is about 18 nuts and contains 160 calories. Cashews are high in monounsaturated fat, which is a heart healthy fat that can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They are also a good source of copper, which can help keep your hair and nails looking healthy.

You may have noticed the recent commercials for pistachios, some of which have featured Snooki. Pistachios have one of the largest serving sizes of nuts: 49 nuts for 160 calories. Pistachios are an excellent source of potassium, which can help lower your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). They are also a good source of healthy fats, as well as B-vitamins which are important for having a healthy metabolism.

Peanuts are one of the most popular nuts in the world. Botanically, peanuts are a legume and not a nut because they grow in the ground, as opposed to on trees, but are still often thought of as a nut. A serving of peanuts is about 28 nuts and contains 170 calories. Peanuts are an excellent source of protein, and according to WorldsHealthiestFoods.org, peanuts may be as antioxidant rich as fruits! Antioxidants are helpful in fighting off free radicals, which are naturally occurring enzymes in the body that raise your risk of diseases such as cancer.

Next time you are looking for a snack, go for a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit for a combination of healthy fats, protein, fiber and antioxidants. Or, use the nuts in the dining hall for an even healthier salad. Go nuts for your health!

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