Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in most parts of the world. Researchers, scientists and healthcare providers have long been working to identify natural and organic preventive options that can decrease the rising rate of cardiovascular diseases without causing any systemic damage. From various studies and trials, it has been confirmed that nuts are rich in certain enzymes, micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals) and omega 3 fatty acids that are preventive against heart diseases. The research results enabled the scientists to propose a "qualified health claim", by US Food and Drug Administration in 2003 according to which consumption of at least one ounce of nut is helpful in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Although most nuts vary in their nutritional values, almost all contains significant portions of healthy fatty acids, essential vitamins like Vitamin A and E and minerals like zinc and magnesium. In this article, we will be primarily dealing with carbohydrate content of nuts.
Carbs in Some Nuts
According to the recommendations of US FDA, one ounce is sufficient to decrease the risk of cardiovascular issues; however, most people are reluctant because of the popular misconception that all nuts have a very high glycemic index. While choosing healthy nuts for snacking, it is important to have a preliminary knowledge of carbohydrate content of nuts like, 1 ounce of almonds supplies 5.6 grams of carbohydrates out of which 3.3 grams account for fiber content of almonds. Similarly, 1 ounce of Macadamia Nuts supplies only 3.92 grams, of which 2.4 grams is due to fiber. Pistachio nuts and cashew nuts are relatively high in carbohydrate content and supply 7.93 and 8.56 grams of carbohydrates respectively of which approximately 15 to 20% is due to fiber.
Nuts for Low Carb Diet
Nuts are considered a healthy snack in health conscious and weight conscious individuals; however, it is imperative to understand that not all nuts are equal in their calorie and carbohydrate content. Besides having a look out for nutritional value of food, it is also indicated to watch for calories and glycemic index.
Healthy choices in nuts that are also low in carbohydrates include:
Almonds are among the high quality and nutrient dense foods that supply macro as well as micronutrients with limited calories in one serving. With net carbohydrate content of 2.3 and fiber content of 3.3 grams, almonds also supply vitamin E and magnesium for optimal health and well- being.
Walnuts are considered as one of the richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids that are known to reduce cardiac risk. With as little as 4 g of carbohydrates in one ounce, you can get almost 4 g of proteins, 20% of your recommended daily allowance of copper and significant amounts of fiber and magnesium.
One ounce of pecan contains 3.93g carbs. Pecans are fairly similar to almonds in its inherent cholesterol lowering characteristics. Pecan supplies cardio-protective and cholesterol lowering agents like beta-sitosterol, mono saturated fatty acids and Vitamin E. In addition to quality proteins and minerals like magnesium, pecans also stabilize serum glucose levels and are thus preventive against diabetes mellitus.
One ounce of macadamia contains 3.92g carbs. Macadamia nuts supplies essential mono-saturated fatty acids that constitute almost 90% of the entire nutritional value of macadamia nuts. It is also rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
5. Other Nuts
Other healthy nuts include brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts and cashew nuts. The latter two are known for their high carbohydrate and calorie content and thus require consumption in sensible amounts.
Tips of Selecting and Eating Nuts
1. Go Nuts Wisely
Nuts are healthy and wholesome sources of essential fatty acids and proteins along with other micro and macronutrients. Research suggest that weight watchers can snack on nuts (in sensible portions) to curb hunger and cravings. Nuts are commercially available in all forms and it is merely up to you to choose unhealthy nuts from healthy nuts. For example, always prefer roasted nuts over unroasted nuts. Moreover, instead of chocolate coated, caramelized or sugar coated nuts, it is better to consume only sea- salted nuts.
2. Have Your Daily Serving
Dietitians suggest maintaining variety in your choice of nuts, instead of sticking to just one type of nuts, it is better to consume all nuts (in a healthy way of course). You can use nuts with your salad or in your drinks or smoothies. You can also enjoy different forms of nuts, for example instead of peanuts; you can achieve better nutritional profile from organic peanut butter that is far more superior to traditional margarines. You can apply it on your breakfast sandwich or on your snack banana.
3. Know Serving Size
It must be kept in mind that all nuts are nutrient dense foods and thus must be consumed in desired serving size only. Over consumption or too much nuts are not bad for the digestive system but also for your body. It is recommended to consume nuts as snack only and not as a replacement of a meal. Make sure to know the nutritional value and serving size to avoid over-eating.
4. Be Wise When Purchasing
Besides knowing the serving size and nutritional value, you should be able to pick the proper and health-friendly variety among the unhealthy ones. Nuts are available in all types of packaging varieties and flavors. As mentioned previously, caramelized or sugar coated nuts contain calories that cause you more harm than any good. Similarly too many spices or salt on the nuts affect its nutritional value in the processing. It is therefore better to consume nuts that are fresh and free from artificial colors and flavors. Moreover, make sure to buy the right amount and packaging. Most nuts are addictive and people tend to over-eat. It is better to buy small packets (that are designed according to the serving size and nutritional value like a 100-calories pack). If you are buying nuts in bulk, make sure divide it according to the number of servings listed.