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Ester Marsh column: Are you going nuts about nuts?

First of all, I want to thank everyone for reading my column each week! I get great feedback and it is much appreciated. One of many questions I received this past week was “are almonds bad for you?”

Because they do not work for my gut does not mean they are bad for you. Nuts are actually very good. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins, protein and antioxidants. They have a lot of healthy fat — monounsaturated fat as well as the Omega-6 and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fat (all good stuff). However, they do have some “bad” fat — saturated fat — and you have to watch the calories when eating nuts. The included chart counts the nuts by pieces or for one ounce. Most people don’t count the number of nuts they eat. If you measure one ounce and only eat one ounce, you should be fine. It’s the ones who eat an entire bag of almonds, cashews or peanuts that can run into trouble with the calories they bring.

I was trying to find out which of the nuts were the best. And after doing research, the “best” ones kept changing. So I am giving you nuts which continue to make the top 10 of nuts including their nutritional facts, but where no one nut is better than the other. For my gut, almonds do not work but for many they do. I typically stick with cashews, peanuts, pecans and pistachios.

Click here to view nutritional facts of various nuts

So when you eat your nuts again, count or weigh them. One ounce is not that much and if you are like me, I can easily eat one cup of nuts. So multiply the calories by eight and it gives you a whole different number. A typical calorie intake for a female who doesn’t exercise can be around 1,500, a male around 2,000. When you look at a cup of peanuts its 1,352 calories! So, yes, nuts are very beneficial to most diets, but watch those calories. Too much of anything is typically not good for you.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA 

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