I confess, I am a nut lover! Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts…I would eat them all day if I could. Sadly, they are high in fat (albeit healthy fat) so I must restrain myself from going overboard. I find my cravings for healthy fats start to increase as the weather starts to get cooler. It’s my body’s way of attempting to “bulk up” on fat for the winter. I often get asked what the best choices are when eating nuts or nut butters, so I thought it would be a great topic to discuss.
My number one choice for nuts from a health perspective is almonds. Cashews comes in as a close second. I love both of these because they have good fatty acid profiles and provide some important nutrients. Walnuts are great because they are a healthy, vegan source of omega-3’s.
While I personally find peanuts and peanut butter to be the most delicious “nuts,” they are not actually nuts! They are technically legumes. One of the reasons why I enjoy peanuts as a rare treat is because they have been shown to be somewhat high in aflatoxins. What on Earth are aflatoxins, you may ask? Aflatoxins are a known carcinogen that are produced by molds found on peanuts stored in warm, humid silos. While I still think enjoying peanuts in moderation is OK, I prefer not to overdo it, just to be on the safe side.
When you’re shopping, look for raw, unsalted nuts for the best health benefits. If you are buying nut butters, looks for brands that contain only nuts or nuts & salt as their ingredients. Steer clear of anything that contains hydrogenated oils, sugar or other additives. Just because a nut butter says it is “All Natural” doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain some of these less than desirable ingredients. ALWAYS read the ingredients for yourself.