Nuts are my snack of choice. In fact, it is my breakfast Monday through Friday, along with an apple or banana. Nuts and seeds are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as well as many important minerals, and some protein. But try to avoid nuts smothered in sugar, salt, or fake yogurt. And be wary of nut companies that advertise that they can deliver loads of protein, energy, and vitamins-not all nuts are created equal. For instance, an ounce of nuts has between 4 and 6 grams of protein, with pecans (3 grams) and macadamias (2 grams) having fewer. A few-peanuts (7grams), pumpkin seeds (9 grams), and saints (11 grams) have more. Note: Peanuts and saints are actually legumes (courtesy of Nutrition Action, 10/15). Almonds are great for lowering LDL cholesterol, pistachios are good for prostate health, and cashews are good for eye health. Brazil nuts contain a good amount of the mineral selenium, important for immune system health (flu and cold season is just around the corner). All that good stuff being said, remember nuts are an energy dense-food, so one needs to limit servings in order not to pack on calories. But exactly, what is a serving? Again, courtesy of Nutrition Action newsletter (10/15), the following are typical serving sizes: Almonds (20-24), Brazil Nuts (6-8), Cashews (16-18), Hazelnuts (19-21), Macadamias (10-12), Peanuts (40), Pecans (18-20 halves), Pistachios (47-49), and Walnuts (10-14 halves). An ounce of sunflower or pumpkin seeds is about 1/4 cup, or 4 level tablespoons. Some nuts come with plenty of sodium, so I do this: I mix unsalted and raw almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and walnuts, with salted macadamias, pistachios, and cashews. It’s just enough salt to keep me happy. Make sure that you read the label on any nut product that you buy.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.