Nuts to You

104 degrees in April! It is amazing how quickly the weather changes from extreme cold to extreme hot here in Southern California. One night a few days ago, we made a fire (in the fireplace, of course), and we were bundled up on the couch. Today, the air conditioner is pumping its brains out because the temps outside are in triple digits. And now the weather mavens tell me that the weather will change back in a few days to the 60’s. I never know how to dress! Do I wear a pullover or a short sleeve shirt? A jacket or no jacket? I don’t know. It’s nuts.
And, speaking of nuts (they don’t call me the king of segues for nothing), nuts happen to be good for you. I just read about this in an article in the paper, and for a nut lover like me, this is wonderful news. Remember how for years and years people were told to avoid nuts because of their high fat content? Well, (hee, hee) never mind! Now they are considered “health food.” You can now chomp away guilt free but there is one catch – portion control. Ah, that’s the rub. Bet you can’t eat just one! Actually you can eat more than one, maybe a handful. Just don’t sit down and polish off a pound of cashews in one sitting while watching TV.
Even the government (Remember them? They’re the guys who operate the American automobile industry) is leaning toward allowing a health claim on food packages touting the nutritious benefits of nuts. The Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing a proposal that would allow foods containing nuts to carry this label: “Diets containing one ounce of nuts per day can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Several studies over the past several years have shown the health benefits of nuts – which contain monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, protein, fiber and are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals, whatever the heck that is.
And nuts are full of good nutrition that can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease. They’ve also been shown to play an important role in helping to lower “bad” cholesterol levels, and raise “good” cholesterol levels. In addition, they can help dilate blood vessels and prevent hardening of the arteries, a definite plus to us citizens of the elderly persuasion (AKA codgers).
Several studies have found that eating small amounts of nuts helps dieters lose weight. One psychological benefit noted in a study done by Pennsylvania State researchers was that dieters did not feel like they were dieting when nuts were allowed in their eating plans, which helped them stay on their diets longer. And staying on your diet longer is a good thing, right?
So if you have a small handful of nuts instead of some other more fattening snack, you’re doing the right thing for your health, mental outlook and your taste buds.
Here’s the skinny (pun very much intended) on the calories for one ounce of various nuts:

  • (30) Dry, regular, roasted peanuts = 170 calories
  • (30) Dry, unsalted, roasted peanuts = 160 calories
  • (30) Cocktail peanuts = 170 calories
  • (30) Honey-roasted peanuts = 150 calories
  • (24) Almonds = 160 calories
  • (7) Brazil nuts = 170 calories
  • (20) Cashews = 170 calories
  • (14) Walnuts = 180 calories
  • (47) Pistachios = 170 calories
  • (20) Pecans = 190 calories
  • (11) Macadamia nuts = 200 calories

As you can see, the old macadamias are pretty fattening, so you best avoid those babies. Most experts will suggest that you stick to almonds, they’re easy to count out when you want to keep track of how much you’re eating. For me, I could live on nuts, all kinds of nuts, so all this health stuff is just icing on the cake. Or maybe I should say nuts on the sundae.
So, in closing, you might be asking yourself: What in the world does all this nutty talk have to do with the weather? Remember? That’s how this whole thing first started. Well, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the weather. Think I’m crazy? I’m not… I’m just a little nuts.

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