I’m nut over nuts! Get nutty for your heart…

Happy Thursday bloggies…and go Bruins!!  For who that doesn’t know (what??) last night in Vancouver the Boston Bruins hockey team won the first Stanley Cup championship in nearly four decades.  Congratulations to the Boston Bruins for winning!

Boston Bruins - 2011 Winners of the Stanley Cup

Today, I would like to talk about one of my all-time favorite foods, almond butter.  It’s so good.  A simple, healthy, satisfying way to start off my day.  I love almonds in general, and guess what? Your heart loves nuts too!  In fact, nuts help keep your heart healthy and strong.  Dr. Walter Willet in his book, ” Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Health Eating”, explains that nuts are full of unsaturated fast and reduce the ‘bad” LDL Cholesterol while keeping the “good” HDL cholesterol levels elevated.  Many people hesitate in eating nuts because of their high fat content, but you should know that these are mostly unsaturated fats which are the good fats.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts are particularly important to the body and the heart because they help reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.  Several studies have shown that people that eats nuts regularly have 30 to 50% less risk of heaving heart attack or heart disease.  Also nuts are high in the good-for-you omega 3 fatty acids and they contain potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, copper, calcium and thiamine.  So, by eating a mixture of nuts, you will get a variety of important vitamins and minerals.  Are you hungry for nuts yet? Don’t exaggerate though: They are also packed with calories.  Eating a handful of nuts in addition to (instead of replacing) your normal food choices may results in 10 to 20 pound weight gain over a year.  Therefore, you should replace some of your unhealthy food choices like chips and ice cream with nuts.  Besides tasting good, nuts will keep you feeling fuller longer.  What I like to do is to incorporate nuts into my meals.  I love to sprinkle a handful of slivered almonds on a salad or  on my  favorite breakfast cereal.  Other things I like to do is to munch nuts for an appetizer instead of cheese, enjoy almond butter (I do that quiet often) on whole wheat bread  for lunch or breakfast, spread peanut butter on sliced bananas or celery, eat low-fat yogurt with a nut topping dessert, just get creative and you might be happily surprise!

Not sure which nuts to choose?  There are a wide variety of nuts.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the type of nut you eat isn’t that important.  However, some nuts have more heart healthy nutrients and fats than others. Walnuts are one of the best-studied nuts, as they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are also heart healthy. Even peanuts — which are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be relatively healthy.  To find nutritional charts, resources and recipes for all the basic tree nuts visit the Tree Nut Council‘s website.   Here are some specifics about the various nuts….

  • Pecans are a good source of vitamin B1, protein, magnesium, oleic acid, and fiber.  They are also believed to be helpful in fighting some cancers.
  • Almonds contain calcium and magnesium for strong bones, vitamin E, and compounds called phytochemicals which are believed to help protect against cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
  • Walnuts contain a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. Studies proved that walnuts added to the diet significantly lowered the LDL cholesterol.
  • Hazelnuts contain 6% calcium and 6% iron in addition to the protein and fats.
  • Peanuts and pistachios provide a good source of B vitamins essential for energy, protein metabolism, and the synthesis of red blood cells.

How much nuts should we eat?   This is what the Department of Agriculture recommends:  One serving of nuts equals about 28 peanuts, 22 almonds, 20 pecan halves, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 7 brazil nuts, 20 hazelnuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 47 pistachios, or two tablespoons of peanut butter.
As I mentioned earlier my favorite food is almond butter but it has to be my home made one.  And the reason of that is that I know it is as all natural as you can get and I can control the salt and the oil content.  Besides I get really  excited about making my own almond butter.  There is nothing more gratifying than tasting something delicious and knowing that you made it yourself!  Making almond butter is quiet easy and quick.  I usually make it in my handy Magic Bullet but you can use a food processor too.  All you need to do is stand there and drool while Bullet works her magic!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of 50% Less Salt Dry Roasted almonds
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, or as needed

Directions:

Add the almond in your bullet or food processor and start on high speed and and pulse a few times to break up the nuts.

At first, the mix will be dry and dusty.  It’s going to start looking like this.

Continue processing the almonds until the oils release from the nuts and the almond butter becomes smooth and creamy. It can take up to 5-10 minutes for the oils to release.  When the oils are starting to release the mixture will change from a dry, crumbly mixture to a smoother, creamier mixture.


When it looks like it’s done, let it keep going for another minute. I almost stopped it at this point, but I let it go a while longer and it got so creamy in that time.


Scrape the almond butter out with a spatula and store the uneaten almond butter in an airtight container.  I usually bring it to work=)

Spread it on bread or  rice cakes for a tasty treat, or scoop with apple slices for a healthy, delicious snack and enjoy!

Be good to your heart and start eating nuts today!

And GO BRUINS!!

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2 thoughts on “I’m nut over nuts! Get nutty for your heart…

  1. congrats to the Bruins!! I am a huge Philadelphia Flyers fan, but I was rooting for the Bruins in this series against Vancouver! Boston must have been going crazy! I love, love, love Peanut Butter…I don’t think I can ever go a day without it. However, I never took a liking to Almond Butter…my sister likes it though!

  2. I know Boston is on fire and everyone is getting ready for the parade on Saturday. I am the same way with Almond Butter, pretty much have it everyday but I am not a big fan of Peanut butter. But every time I go to Italy I MUST bring few jars of PB to my brother-in-law who is crazy about it! Too funny!

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