Archive for the tag - nuts

Is YOUR Peanut Butter Healthy?

ec79dfe30810ce0709cdf9d93297473bPeanut butter.

I’m basically in a three-way relationship with it and my boyfriend. And, to be honest, I don’t know who pleases me more.

But enough about me. As it turns out, peanut butter – in its purest form – can be a smart part of any nutrition program. Beyond being rich in protein, healthy fats and other nutrients, peanut butter has been shown to suppress hunger, support heart health, lower the risk of colon cancer, memory loss and even type II diabetes.

Here’s the problem: The peanut butter in your cupboard probably isn’t peanut butter. It’s a weird combination of some nuts and a lot of nasty stuff cooked up by some conglomerate mega-corporation.

If you don’t believe me, go take a look for yourself. If your peanut butter is really peanut butter, there should be exactly one ingredient listed on the product packaging:

Peanuts.

Let’s contrast that to the ingredients in Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread:

Peanuts, corn syrup solids, sugar, pea protein, salt, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides, molasses, magnesium oxide, niacinamide, ferric orthophosphate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride.

The reality is, most peanut butters sold today are full of other not-so-healthy ingredients, and are often loaded with sugar. It’s like the difference between eating fresh blueberries versus a jar of jelly. So do yourself a favor and get the good stuff. Read the label and shop smarter.

Besides, you deserve a peanut butter boyfriend that treats you right.

P.S. If you want to transform the way you look and feel through the foods you eat without dieting, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Raw Vs. Roasted Nuts: Health Benefits.

all types of nutsThe other day, I was chatting with a friend about the benefits of raw versus roasted nuts.

In a world where so-called raw diets are increasingly popular, there’s a tendency to assume that raw is healthier. The science for this is less clear. While some foods are healthier when eaten raw (as heat can destroy nutrients and reduce the benefits of certain foods), this isn’t true of all foods. Tomatoes, for example, are healthier when heated due to lycopene content.

So what’s the deal with nuts?

There hasn’t been a study to specifically determine how roasting nuts changes their nutritional properties. But according to Dr. Rui Hai Liu, a professor of food science at Cornell University who has studied the benefits of nut consumption, “you will get health benefits from consuming either raw or roasted nuts.” He continues, “I don’t think the processing will decrease the benefits, and it may improve the bioavilability of some bioactive compounds.”

But here’s the big catch.

Many of the “roasted” nuts at grocery stores are actually fried. It’s true. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll likely see vegetable oil and salt listed. The vegetable oil is added during the frying process – and then, to add insult to injury, the nuts are usually salted.

If you prefer roasted nuts but want to avoid purchasing fried nuts, only buy nuts labeled as “dry-roasted nuts.” Or, even better, buy raw nuts and roast them yourself in the oven. Don’t add oil and don’t add salt. The nuts will still taste great.

In summary, you can’t go wrong with raw, unsalted nuts. If opting for roasted nuts, select the unsalted and dry-roasted variety. You’ll ensure that you’re getting a healthy, convenient, high fiber, and high protein food that’s loaded with healthy fats.

Eat Nuts: Live Longer?

walnutWe know that nuts can play an important role in a healthy, balanced diet – but a new study from Harvard takes things a step further. According to the research, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, eating a one-ounce daily serving of tree nuts (i.e., walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) resulted in a 20 percent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to non-tree nut eaters.

Lasting three decades and involving some 118,000 healthy participants, the study concluded that nut eaters were 25% less likely to die from heart disease, 20% less likely to die from diabetes or lung disease and 10 percent less likely to die from cancer. Even if participants didn’t engage in exercise and/or otherwise avoided fruits and vegetables, eaters of tree nuts still enjoyed longer lives.

Though this research is powerful, it’s somewhat muddied by the fact that the study was funded – in part – by a grant from the Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit group that represents nine tree nut industries. In other words, the funding could constitute a conflict of interest.

Regardless of the funding controversy, we know that nuts can be part of a healthy and balanced diet – and that numerous studies have linked nut consumption with various health benefits. In other words, it’s okay to go nuts for nuts.

P.S. If you do opt for nuts, ensure that you’re consuming non-salted varieties. And note that this study found lesser benefits with peanuts versus tree nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews.

 

 

Is Peanut Butter Good for You?

That peanut butter is rich, flavorful and creamy immediately raises speculation about its nutritional value. Because it tastes so damn good, many people wonder: Is peanut butter really a healthy choice?

If you have a jar of peanut butter in your home, take a look at the nutritional facts. Two things will probably jump out. First, it is calorie-dense. With 200 calories in just tablespoons, it’s like eating a bowl of cereal. Second, with 16 grams of fat per serving (about 25% of a typical person’s daily value), it’s quite high in fat. It even has 3.5 grams of saturated fat – about 16% of your daily value.

It doesn’t seem to paint peanut butter in a good light.

But calories and fat don’t tell the full story. According to Dr. Walter C. Willett, a nationally known nutrition expert at Harvard University:

The presence of saturated fat doesn’t automatically kick a food into the “unhealthy” camp. Olive oil, wheat germ, and even tofu – all “healthy” foods – have some saturated fat. It’s the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.

The ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat in peanut butter is similar to that of heart-healthy olive oil. Peanut butter also contains fiber, protein and some vitamins and minerals.

Peanut butter, other nut butters and nuts have been studied quite extensively. As it turns out, people who consume nuts or nut butters are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes. According to a separate study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, individuals who eat a diet high in foods like peanut butter are more likely to keep weight off than people following a lower-fat diet. Researchers at Purdue University also found that people feel fuller and eat less after snacking on peanut butter than other foods.

So, go ahead and spread some gooey peanut butter on a frozen banana (my favorite) or on a sliced up apple. Mix it into your smoothies. Peanut butter – and other nut butters and nuts – can certainly be a part of your healthy diet.