Did you know that many of the delicious little nuggets we snack on and commonly refer to as nuts aren’t technically nuts at all? From a botanical standpoint, true nuts are a dry fruit with one seed. With a true nut, the ovary wall becomes very hard and the seed inside remains unattached within the ovary. Chestnuts and hazelnuts are examples of true nuts—you know them by their rattle.1
The culinary definition of a nut is much broader and includes seeds. So any large, edible, oily kernel found within a shell is called a nut, culinarily speaking. That includes almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia nuts, among others.
But regardless of what you call these perfect little snacks, or how you choose to classify them, nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet. They’re packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and when eaten raw (or dry roasted) and unsalted in moderation, they’re nutritional powerhouses.2
How Many Nuts Should You Eat?
According to Health.com, all nuts are just about created equal in terms of calories per ounce, so as long as you don’t eat more than you should, they’re a great and healthy snack. Cleveland Clinic Canada’s registered dietician Jennifer Sygo recommends that you eat 28 grams of nuts per day, which is about as much as would fit in the palm of your hand.3 This amount, claims Sygo, will give you all the health benefits without adding too much extra fat to your diet.
All natural nut butters are also great for you (as long as you don’t sit down and eat the entire tub in one go), and kids love the stuff! Look for nut butters with no added fat or sugar and low to no salt to make sure you’re choosing the healthiest option on the shelf.
If you want to be sure that the nut butter you’re eating is as natural as possible, it’s simple and fun to make your own—and usually much more affordable than pricey store bought options. You can then control everything that goes into your nutty treat.
Make your own nut butter by putting your nuts of choice into a high-speed blender or food processor and blending them until they reach the consistency you like. Huffington Post has a great how-to article that includes some delicious suggestions for adding extra flavors and textures to your nut butter (chocolate-hazelnut spread, anyone?). Just remember that adding sugar and salt will, of course, make your nut butter a little less healthy.
So when it comes to nuts, you can’t really “go nuts” and eat as many as you want, but you can and should make them a part of your healthy diet. For more nutritional information about nuts visit Nutrition and You, and for some healthy recipes using nuts check out Eating Well.
412652I CAN/US (08/15)