The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm.
Do you think that’s how a certain part of the male body got named?
WATER-COOLER FACT: An ounce of almonds (twenty-three average
almonds) contains 3.3 grams of fiber—the most of any nut.
WHAT’S IN IT: Almonds are a very good source of vitamin E, and a good
source of magnesium and riboflavin. A one-ounce serving has 164
calories and fourteen grams of fat.
WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR: Reducing your triglycerides and cholesterol, and
preventing gallstones. Twenty-two people replaced half of their dietary
fat with almonds. Their blood triglyceride levels decreased by 14
percent, their total cholesterol decreased by 4 percent, their LDL
cholesterol by 6 percent, and their HDL cholesterol increased by 6
percent. Also, men who frequently ate nuts such as almonds had a 30
percent less risk of gallstones than men who rarely or never ate them.
Roast almonds gently at 350°F to retain their delicate, healthy, polyunsaturated fats.
The pecan is truly an American nut. The tree is native to North
America, and both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson counted it
among their favorite foods.
WATER-COOLER FACT: Shaking unshelled pecans is a way to find out
how fresh they are—if they rattle, they’re no longer fresh.
WHAT’S IN IT: Pecans are 53 percent fat by weight, but less than 10
percent of that is saturated fat. Pecans also contain potassium, fiber,
vitamin B1, and vitamin E. A quarter cup of pecans weighs less than an
ounce and consists of about sixteen small pecan halves, 171 calories, and
eighteen grams of fat.
WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR: Lowering your LDL “lousy” cholesterol, and
reducing your risk for coronary heart disease. Pecans contain
monounsaturated fat, which is linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
A trial involving twenty-three people with high cholesterol showed that
eating seventy-two grams of pecans (almost three-quarters of a cup) a
day decreased their total cholesterol by 7 percent, LDL by 10 percent,
triglycerides by 11 percent, and increased HDL by 6 percent beyond that
seen in people following the National Cholesterol Education Program’s
step 1 diet for reducing cholesterol. One ounce of nuts five days a week
is the dose consistently shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Of all nuts, pecans have the most antioxidants.
Nuts stored airtight will not absorb the flavors of other foods, and will
stay fresher longer in the freezer or refrigerator.
WATER-COOLER FACT: An ounce and a half of walnuts eaten after a
high-fat meal (eighty grams of fat, 35 percent saturated) reversed
arterial stiffening within four hours . . . better than olive oil.
WHAT’S IN IT: Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential
fatty acids. Walnuts also contain protein, potassium, folate, and fiber.
One ounce of walnuts (about fourteen halves) has 185 calories, four
grams of protein, and eighteen grams of fat. Walnuts reduce LDL
oxidation and other measures of inflammation in the bloodstream.
WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR: Keeping your arteries flexible and your heart
healthy. Omega-3s reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing
inflammation in the blood vessels, especially the arteries. In one study,
twenty-four subjects were fed a fatty diet followed by about twenty
walnut halves. Subjects had their blood flow increase by 24 percent, had
more elastic arteries, and a slower start to arterial inflammation.