Go Nuts – A Great Snack for Truckers
When it comes to food, many have an all-or-nothing switch. You can’t just eat one piece of cake as a sweet treat, but even when things are labeled healthy, you find yourself thinking more is better.
Nuts are incredibly healthy, where these nutrient-packed morsels are one of the best foods you can eat, but no one said anything about a handful’s a day, every day. Go nuts! Yes, go nuts; they are a great treat and portion-perfect travel food for your next trip, or for that truck driver who is trying to avoid the unhealthy options in truck stops and doesn’t want to entire the front doors on an empty stomach.
Many think that nuts are a fattening food. But the truth is nuts, and seeds are some of the best foods you can eat for optimum health, metabolic syndrome, and weight-loss.
The Research Is In!
In 2017 a research study was done through the Global Burden of Disease Study. The most comprehensive analysis of the causes of death ever undertaken involved nearly 500 researchers and examined 100,000 data sources. And this study calculated that not eating enough nuts was a leading dietary risk factor for death and disability worldwide. They found that lack of nutrition taken in through nuts kills more people than processed meat consumption and more than a low intake of fiber and vegetables. The Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that eating more vegetables could save 1.8 million lives, but eating more nuts and seeds could save 2.5 million lives. Just let that sink in for a second. WOW! Right? I had to read that twice myself.
But it doesn’t stop there; their research also noted that the healthy foods missing from most diets worldwide actually are nuts and seeds!
Why Are Nuts Healthy?
Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that eating nuts may:
- Lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which play a significant role in the buildup of deposits called plaques in your arteries
- Improve the health of the lining of your arteries
- Lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease
- Reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack and death
Nuts are packed with loads of nutrition. They are suitable for your overall health as they contain protein, fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, niacin, vitamin E, and many other minerals like magnesium, zinc (check out our article on MTY blog about Zinc), copper, potassium, and antioxidants. And when it comes to heart health, they contain the nonessential amino acid arginine, which helps protect the artery walls’ inner lining.
Nuts also contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, the same fats found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy and not the kind of fat you want to be afraid of. Some nuts are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that our body wants to make sure we get enough. Many truck drivers get an overabundance of Omega-6 and Omega-9’s in their diets due to the plethora of fast foods and processed foods. So nuts are a great go-to in an attempt to turn the tables in the Omega category.
Eating nuts and seeds regularly play a crucial role in managing health concerns like:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Digestive Disorders
- Heart Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease
But How Much is Too Many Nuts?
Well, all nuts and seeds have a slightly different nutrition punch to bring to the handful. The key is to take nuts in at ½ ounce to 1-ounce servings daily up to five days a week.
Check out our Nuts Realistic Serving Size Chart to see just how much you should be grabbing of nuts a day.
Nuts are Heart Healthy
Nuts help reduce coronary heart disease (after adjusting for other coronary heart disease factors) by eating five or more servings (5 ounces) of nuts per week by 35-50%. But I find it is important to note that, like anything, moderation is key. When you read this, you might begin to think, “well, I’ll just eat a ton of nuts then”. Well, that is not what this is suggesting; instead, let this be an excellent push for you to consider swapping out unhealthy heart compromising foods for a handful of nuts a few times a week. Remember, moderation is the key to improving our health, especially with nuts.
Nuts can help with weight-loss
Nuts are the unsung hero when it comes to managing our weight. Because many still look at the fat content in nuts and think that will make them fat. They choose to stay away. But that isn’t true. Just a ½ an ounce per day of nutrition packed nuts is associated with less long-term weight gain. When you replace unhealthy foods like processed meats, fast food, and things like chips and cakes, nuts become a simple weight management strategy.
Many researchers believe nuts aid in weight control for the following reasons:
- Chewing nuts takes effort.
- High fiber delays stomach emptying.
- The body absorbs not all the fat from nuts during the digestion process.
- Nuts have prebiotic properties.
- Nuts help improve gut microbiome and intestinal health.
How To Shop for Nuts
Raw or sprouted and dehydrated nuts are best. Most nuts in the grocery store or truck stop are salted and contain high sodium content. The next time-nuts travel well, you are home or can stop at a grocery store to look for raw or unsalted nuts. And at a minimum, eating raw, unsalted nuts will move you light years ahead in a nut-healthy direction. For more information about soaking and sprouting your nuts, check out this great article on Vegetarian Times breaking down the soaking times and sprouting times by nut type. But don’t be overwhelmed; just switching to raw nuts will make a massive difference in your nut health benefits.
I like to follow the health approach of Good, Better, Best. What is a good option, what is the better option, and what is the best option? I might not be able to do the best right now, and the better might be out of reach, but is there a good option to choose today? And then go from there. Health is not black or white and not all an all or nothing lifestyle. The same goes for nuts.
Word of Caution
We are all unique, and our bodies all react differently to foods and environments due to our history or current health. If you are allergic, don’t eat them. If you are a compulsive eater or binge-eater, consider prepackaging your nuts into small bags to avoid overeating. Even healthy things can be overconsumed. When in doubt, ask your doctor or consider an allergy test to get to the bottom of a nut concern. Here at Mother Trucker Yoga, we want to empower drivers to build a toolbox of healthy options, but we also encourage drivers to use common sense and, when in doubt, seek medical advice.