« 2011 Warrior Dash | Main | Running in a foreign country »

May 25, 2011

Benefits of nuts and seeds

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a guest post on healthy eating. This week, Amanda Tauber (pictured) weighs in on nuts and seeds.

If you’re looking for a great snack with healthy fats and a good source of protein, don’t overlook nuts and seeds. Throwing some walnuts into a salad takes little effort and adds a lot of great nutrition to your meal. There are many different types of nuts and seeds that can be used in a variety of recipes or be eaten by themselves.

Nuts and seeds are great sources of key nutrients the body needs to function properly. According to the American Dietetic Association, nuts and seeds are an important source of fat, containing mostly mono and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and raise your HDL “good” cholesterol. Nuts and seeds contain alpha linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Omega-3’s are important in reducing your risk for heart disease.

The majority of calories come from their fat content. The other bit of calories comes from protein, which can help build muscle and keep your appetite satisfied. As far as the micronutrient content, potassium, vitamin E, zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and folate are also found in nuts and seeds. Fiber is another heart-healthy benefit of nuts and seeds.

Since the fat content of nuts and seeds is high, it’s important to watch your portion sizes. One serving of almonds (about 160 calories) is equal to one-third cup, which can be one handful for some people, so be sure to pay attention to how many handfuls you take. Three handfuls of nuts can amount to nearly 500 calories (400 calories coming from fat alone). If you’re trying to gain weight, nuts and seeds can be an easy way to add calories without eating a lot of food. A serving of sunflower seeds is only one-quarter cup but provides 205 calories. Be sure to check food labels for each individual type of nut or seed since calories, fat and protein content may vary. Also, some varieties come with added salt, so examine packages to find raw, unsalted nuts and seeds.

Eating nuts and seeds by themselves can get a little boring after a while. So add some walnuts to your salad for added omega-3 benefits or topping your yogurt with almonds for added protein. You can even make trail mix at home for a healthy on-the-go snack. Check out the American Heart Association’s website for its recipe “Take a Break Snack Mix.”

Nuts and seeds are easy to eat, take little to no preparation and come in many varieties to try.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nutrition


Great post! Nuts are a fantastic way to have a nutritious snack that will fill you up - and not leave you hungry. My favorite website for healthy snack ideas is

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
View Twitter feed
Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
View Twitter feed
Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
View Twitter feed
Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
View Twitter feed

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Reader photos

Share your race photos
Upload your photos from races. Post times, if you like.
Stay connected