When Christa Kramer isn’t whipping Evansvillians into shape at one of the YMCA’s aerobics classes, she’s offering them nutritional advice. The registered dietitian knows a healthy diet can be a little nutty. Once considered a fattening snack, nuts have resurged as a healthy choice — with a few caveats. Here’s Kramer’s advice.
Nuts are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy monounsaturated fats. Those nutrients are the reasons “several studies have shown one to two ounces of nuts a day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says Kramer. That’s one to two handfuls daily.
“If you’re going to have a candy bar or a bag of chips,” Kramer says, “nuts are a healthier option.” Remember, though: Fat is still fat, so moderation is key. Pair nuts with another nutritious snack. (For example, eat nuts with apples, place in oatmeal, or mix with yogurt). “This way, you control a moderate amount of nuts you eat,” Kramer says.
These nuts seem the most nutritious: walnuts (a good source of omega-3 essential fatty acids — well-known cardiovascular boosters), almonds (high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant), and pecans (packed with 19 vitamins).
If the nuts are dipped in honey, sugar, or chocolate, then the nuts’ health “benefits are null,” Kramer says. Look for the dry-roasted and unsalted variety.