By Florencia Tagliavini, The NutraMilk Nutritionist
There has been some reluctance to enjoy nuts due to the fear over their fat and calorie content. A survey done in 2016 showed that 64% of Americans believe fat is their enemy. There is no reason to fear fat! The problem is that people don't know the important roles that fat has in the body as well as it's potential benefits and that not all fats are created equal.
Some roles of fat in our body:
- Vitamin absorption and transport - without fats, vitamins A, D, E & K don't get absorbed and transported and therefore are not available for the many bodily functions they perform. Their deficiency can cause a wide array of health problems.
- Helps produce hormones.
- Necessary to build cell membranes and the sheaths surrounding nerves and therefore important for nerve signaling. This means communication between cells that influence basically everything that happens in our body from blood clotting, pain, muscle function, inflammation, etc.
- Supports metabolism.
- Helps balance pro and anti-inflammatory reactions in the body.
- Makes meals more satisfying so you can stay full longer without dips in blood sugar.
- Increases insulin sensitivity so your muscles absorb glucose more efficiently instead of storing it as fat.
Did you know fat did all that?
Healthy fats are absolutely essential for our entire body to function normally. However, not all fats are the same. Saturated fats, mono- & polyunsaturated fats, cholesterol, and trans fats all have different effects on our body. While some may have beneficial effects, others such as trans fats can be harmful and too much of any type of fat or calories for that matter can have a detrimental effect on health. Dietary guidelines recommend that people keep total fat intake between 20-35% of total calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. But there are healthy diets that can include even more fat than 35% of total calories as long as the rest of the calories are healthy calories as well.
So, do nuts contain too much fat?
Nuts are energy and nutrient dense, meaning they have a lot of calories due to their heart-healthy fat content per serving but they also pack a ton of essential nutrients per serving. When enjoyed in proper serving sizes, nuts can provide filling protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated & polyunsaturated fats, and many other important vitamins, minerals and health benefiting compounds such as antioxidants and phytosterols.
In fact, various studies concluded, "Frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of weight gain (5 kg or more). These results support the recommendation of nut consumption as an important component of a cardio-protective diet and also allay fears of possible weight gain."
The current approximate recommended serving size is 1 once of nuts per day as an addition to a healthy diet. For example, with the NutraMilk, you can enjoy 2 tablespoons of homemade almond butter, 1 or 2 glasses of fresh almond milk or choose any other nut & seed butters and milks.
So, although as a culture we have been led to believe that consuming fat can lead to unwanted weight gain, the opposite is in fact true; consuming healthy fats actually promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, a stable healthy body weight, less inflammation, and overall good health.