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The Mediterranean diet is based upon the ingredients and cooking styles traditionally used by inhabitants of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea. According to MayoClinic.com one of the main benefits of following this way of eating is that it can reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts play a big role in the Mediterranean diet, and there are plenty of different types that you can eat.
Due to their high content of fat and fiber, almonds can help you lose weight, writes nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden in "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth." This fat and fiber, combined with protein, aid feelings of fullness and satiety, and just a small serving can keep you going between meals, notes Bowden.
Walnuts are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein and vitamin E and contain more omega-3 fats than other nuts. Walnuts can reduce blood pressure during times of stress, according to Sheila G. West, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State University. Including them in your diet may also lower cholesterol levels, notes West.
Pistachios make the list due to their cholesterol-lowering properties. According to Penny Kris-Etherton, registered dietitian and professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, pistachios minimize damage to cells caused by free radicals, lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Add crushed pistachios to salads and smoothies, or just eat them as a snack between meals.
This is far from an exhaustive list and any type of unsalted, unroasted, plain nut is acceptable on the Mediterranean diet. Pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts and cashews are all good choices. While they may contain healthful properties, nuts are also high in calories. University health services at the University of Wisconsin recommend only consuming one to two servings of nuts per day. A serving is seven to eight walnuts or pecans, 12 to 15 almonds or 20 peanuts. You could also use a tablespoon of nut oil or nut butter in place of a serving of whole nuts.
- MayoClinic.com: Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan
- The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why; Dr. Jonny Bowden; January 2007
- The Telegraph: Handful of Pistachios Could Destroy Cholesterol
- University of Wisconsin: University Health Services: Mediterranean Diet – Food Guide
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images