In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we love nuts. The crunch, the flavors, the assortment! It’s a snack that hits all the right notes. You can find them candied, salted, ground, slivered, roasted, in single-variety packages or mixed. You can use them in cooking, baking, instead of croutons on your salad (OK, in addition to croutons) or just pop them in your mouth to satisfy a craving. Unlike other fast-food snacks, nuts have a proven track record of improving your health in many ways. The popularity of nuts has even led to advances in science and technology! Read on to learn more nut facts that will make you nutty for this superfood hiding inside those tiny hard shells.
Did you ever notice when you open a shaken up bag of mixed nuts, the largest variety tend to be on top? Researchers have named this phenomenon the Brazil nut effect, in honor of the vitamin-packed snack that always seems to rise to the top. Physicists have attempted to understand why this happens, and have identified up to 10 factors, including density, convection, and air pressure. Who knew that a simple mixed nut bag could be so scientifically rich? Brazil nuts, by the way, are an excellent source of plant protein, healthy fats, and selenium, an important nutrient. In fact, eating just two Brazil nuts provides 100% of your recommended daily selenium requirements! Nuts, in general, are great sources of dietary fiber and the antioxidant vitamin E.
Nuts are chock-full of protein, too, ranging from 14–26% by weight. From a nutrition standpoint, snacking on nuts between meals will leave you feeling fuller and will give your body slow-burning fuel to help you feel energized throughout the day. This is especially important for vegetarians and vegans who are looking for alternate sources of protein outside of meats and fish. Interestingly, the “nut” that packs the most powerful protein punch isn’t really a nut at all; peanuts, which are technically legumes, provide around 7 grams of protein per serving. (Supposedly, peanut butter was originally developed as a nutritional supplement for the elderly.) Researchers have found that peanuts can even help keep your cholesterol under control. Can a steak do that? Nope.
Here’s another “superpower” of our friendly little fruit. Our understanding of fats has developed in a big way over the years, so we’ve learned that there are “bad” fats like trans fats and some saturated fats, and there are “good” fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios reign supreme in this respect. Nuts, overall, are an excellent source of these “good” fats, which is actually linked to greater heart health, lower cholesterol, and even weight loss! All the more reason to freely indulge in your love of nuts.
Properly stored nuts have a pantry shelf life of 6–9 months for most popular varieties (1–2 months for pine nuts), and up to 1–2 years in the fridge, depending on the kind of nut. Keeping your nuts in tightly-sealed containers will help them last longer. Given the wide range of uses, and the fact that they stay fresh and tasty for so long, it makes great sense to buy nuts in bulk; you’ll use them up before you know it! This superfood should be a staple of any health-conscious home, and we know you share our love for all things nutty. Hiding beneath their tough exteriors are kind, sensitive souls—I mean, edible kernels—just waiting to help you make your life a bit more healthy…and delicious. So, go nuts!