The Nut Case: Do They Have Too Much Fat?


Why: These tasty, little green nuts are high in lutein, an antioxidant typically found in dark leafy vegetables that's been shown to protect our eyes from macular degeneration. In one recent study, participants who ate 1.5 oz. of pistachios every day lowered their total cholesterol levels, while participants who ate 3 oz. a day saw an even more dramatic drop.

How: Sprinkle pistachios on shrimp or scallops (or on ice cream for dessert). Add crushed pistachios to meat loaf in place of some of the beef or bread crumbs.

1 oz. = 49 pistachios 158 calories, 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat


Why: A 2004 study ranked the antioxidant capacity of 100 different foods and found that pecans are one of the top 15 sources of antioxidants. In another study, pecan antioxidants were shown to prevent LDL from building up in arteries and lowered total cholesterol levels. Compared with other nuts, pecans have one of the highest levels of phytosterols, a group of plant chemicals that may help protect against cardiovascular disease.

How: Add pecans to pancake batter, or coarsely chop and toss with pasta. Mix finely chopped pecans with bread crumbs and use as a coating on any broiled fish.

1 oz. = 19 halves 196 calories, 3 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat


Why: Hazelnuts have the highest nut level of folate, a B vitamin known to reduce the risk of birth defects. Research indicates that it--along with other B vitamins--may also lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and depression. Hazelnuts contain moderate levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which can help lower blood pressure.

How: Add roasted hazelnuts to asparagus with lemon vinaigrette. They also go well with sweets, like granola yogurt parfaits.

1 oz. = 21 nuts 178 calories, 4 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat


Eat the following nuts with saturated fat sparingly:


1 oz. = 6 nuts, 186 calories, 4 grams protein, 19 grams total fat


  • The Bad News: 4 grams of saturated fat per one-ounce serving
  • The Good News: Highest amount of selenium of any food; this mineral helps eliminate free radicals that can lead to cancer


1 oz. = 11 nuts, 204 calories, 2 g protein, 21 g total fat

  • The Bad News: 3 grams of saturated fat and more calories than any other nut
  • The Good News: High in thiamine, a type of B vitamin that helps metabolize carbohydrates into energy


1 oz. = 18 nuts, 157 calories, 5 g protein, 12 g total fat

  • The Bad News: 2.5 grams of saturated fat per one-ounce serving
  • The Good News: Rich in copper and magnesium, as well as zinc, which is important for a healthy immune system.


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