Amp Up Your Smoothies With Tree Nuts

I am always looking to add more nutritional value to my smoothies. Smoothies are nutritionally dense by design, but I find that sometimes I’m left wanting a little bit more. Many people add protein powders to their smoothies, making them more filling – but I subscribe to the belief that whole foods can have the exact same effect.

One excellent way to make a smoothie more filling is to add nuts. I came across this method when I was out of yogurt and looking for a means to create a creamy and filling smoothie. I had raw cashews on hand and I was feeling adventurous. To my surprise, my smoothie was not only creamy, but I felt full for hours on just the smoothie alone.

Why go nuts?

Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for your heart. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, and are not only a great snack food, but a great thickening addition to soups, stews and smoothies. Many nuts are rather inexpensive, easy to store and easy to take with you to work or school.

Studies have shown that people who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the LDL, low-density lipoprotein (also known as “bad” cholesterol), in their blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease.

So what is it about nuts that make them so great for the heart?

  • Unsaturated fats. It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
  • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.

Nuts, although amazing for you, should be eaten with moderation in mind, since they contain a lot of fat (as much as 80% of a nut is fat!) They’re also packed with calories.

Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products. In my smoothies, I generally use 1 tbsp of my chosen nut. This gives the smoothie the boost it needs while still keeping caloric values in check.

See how your favorite nut stacks up:

  • Almonds, raw – 163 cals/14 g
  • Almonds, dry roasted – 169 cals/15 g
  • Brazil nuts, raw – 186 cals/19 g
  • Cashews, dry roasted – 163 cals/13.1 g
  • Chestnuts, roasted – 69 cals/0.6 g
  • Hazelnuts (filberts), raw – 178 cals/17 g
  • Hazelnuts (filberts), dry roasted – 183 cals/17.7 g
  • Macadamia nuts, raw – 204 cals/21.5 g
  • Macadamia nuts, dry roasted – 204 cals/21.6 g
  • Peanuts, dry roasted – 166 cals/14 g
  • Pecans, dry roasted – 201 cals/21 g
  • Pistachios, dry roasted – 161 cals/12.7 g
  • Walnuts, halved – 185 cals/18.5 g

Related Articles: