Consider adding nuts and seeds to your diet

People can and should consume nuts daily for their nutritional benefits.

Nuts and seeds are making a strong comeback with health professionals and nutrition enthusiasts. With a variety of health benefits, you should consider incorporating seeds and nuts into your balanced diet.

Regardless of the variety of nut you select there are beneficial nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, potassium and a healthy mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a qualified health claim in 2003 for nuts due to their health benefits, stating, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” 

Each type of nut and seed has its own distinctive qualities and flavor providing numerous possibilities for enhancing recipes, meals and snacks.  The convenience of opening a package of nuts and seeds makes them a true convenience food.  If you need ideas for simple ways to incorporate nuts, browse the top ten ways to enjoy nuts.

Be diligent to read food packaging before you purchase a desired type of nuts to confirm if they are processed which may deplete or reduce their nutrient values.  Select raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds as your healthiest choice; watch out for added sodium, sugar and other food additives.

An individual’s healthy eating pattern, as outlined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, encourages people to include plant-based protein such as nuts as a means to promote better health.  As in any healthy eating pattern balancing daily calories is important.  Nuts and seeds are calorie dense foods with an average of 150 to 200 calories per serving.  Awareness is needed to determine how many individual nuts and seeds compose the recommended daily 1.5-ounce serving. Generally a one ounce serving is a small handful, but be sure to read serving sizes on the nutrition facts label.  As with most food regular overconsumption of calories can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Michigan State University Extension promotes using the Dietary Guidelines key recommendations to establish healthy eating patterns including a variety of healthy protein foods such as nuts and seeds in your diet.  On your next trip to the local farmers market look for locally sourced nuts and add them to your basket as a heart healthy food you can enjoy every day.

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