A study today confirmed that a regular dose of nuts can increase your longevity by 20%. The New England Journal of Medicine studied more than 110,000 peoples’ diets over the course of 30 years and found that those who consumed a daily handful lived longer than their nut-shunning counterparts.
Nuts are high in calories, but even that may be a bit off. A British study published in 2012 found that pistachios have about 5 percent fewer calories than those listed in books and on websites and almonds have 20 percent fewer. Meaning that an ounce of almonds – about 22 of them – will set you back just 130 calories, instead of 163. Nuts also curb your appetite. Studies have shown that when people add extra calories from peanuts (okay a legume, not a true nut) or almonds to their diet, they eat fewer calories in other foods – so they don’t end up gaining weight.
Nuts are a vegan source of protein and an amazing source of unsaturated, healthy fats. Walnuts offer omega-3 fatty acids, almonds provide magnesium and calcium and Brazil nuts offer a day’s worth of selenium, a minor mineral and antioxidant, in just ONE nut. Macadamias, what many folks love, don’t give you the best bang for your nut buck – more fat and less protein than most other varieties. Not a terrible choice in moderation – but if you can’t stop at just five or six, you’re better off leaving them in the store – 10 macs equals about 200 calories. Pecans are relatively low in protein (just 3 grams per serving), compared to other varieties (almonds offer 6 grams per serving while peanuts have 7 grams).
Nut butter is a good way to get your daily dose of nuts, but look for varieties without added sugar or hydrogenated fats. Raw nuts are best. Roast ‘em or soak ‘em yourself – rawists say soaking makes the nuts natural enzymes better available. Avoid salted or flavored or (gasp) chocolate-coated varieties – those only add bad things to a very good food. (Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy an occasional dark chocolate almond.)