Prairie Fare: Go nutty for nuts this holiday seasonThrough the years, I have eaten my share of pecans and pistachios. Peanuts, which are known as “ground nuts” in other countries, are a welcome snack, too. Did you know that peanuts are in the legume (or bean) family?
By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM
Through the years, I have eaten my share of pecans and pistachios. Peanuts, which are known as “ground nuts” in other countries, are a welcome snack, too. Did you know that peanuts are in the legume (or bean) family?
Turns out, we all may benefit from eating more nuts.
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.
Besides reducing their risk of chronic diseases, the people who ate more nuts also were slimmer than the people who ate fewer or no nuts.
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, lack of exercise or a smoking habit. Aim for an overall healthful lifestyle and include some nuts as snacks or as part of recipes.
Nuts are fairly dense in calories, but a small handful will tame hunger very well. Nuts are good sources of protein and fiber, and contain mainly unsaturated, heart-healthy fat. If you choose unsalted or lightly salted nuts, you are keeping your sodium intake under control, too.
If you are trying to manage your calories, keep the following in mind:
Nut calories can add up fairly quickly, so substitute nuts for treats such as potato chips or candy bars.
You might find that nuts leave you feeling satisfied longer than other foods because of their protein, fiber and fat content.
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.
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 a year).
I’ve come a long way since my early days of avoiding most types of nuts. Walnuts still aren’t my favorite, but I will eat them on occasion. Here’s a sweet treat that makes a welcome homemade gift for friends during the holidays.
1 cup shelled pecans
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/8, teaspoon 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 plates so there is one layer per plate and let cool slightly.
Tips: If 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.
Makes eight servings. Each 2-tablespoon serving has 120 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 35 milligrams of sodium.
Garden-Robinson is a food and nutrition specialist for the NDSU Extension Service