To Be Nut-Wise


Yes nuts are tasty, can be salty, are often found in small decorative dishes at cocktail parties, and have a bad rap for being high in fat and calories. But did you know that they’re also packed with protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, and may even stave off breast cancer?

Here’s a quiz that was compiled by The American Institute for Cancer Research (and edited by me for clarity). See how you do, but more important, see what you learn.

The Nut of It: An AICR Quiz

1. Nuts have received mixed health reviews over the years because they are:

a. nutrient dense

b. calorie dense

c. both a and b

d. not sure what either term means

2. Approximately how many almonds make up 1 serving (1 ounce)?

a. 9

b. 4

c. 23

3. Peanuts:

a. are a good source of folate and niacin (B vitamins), along with vitamin E.

b. contain resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and red wine that has shown cancer-fighting properties in lab studies.

c. should not be on this quiz because technically, the peanut is not a nut, it’s a legume.

d. all of the above

4. Approximately how many whole walnuts make up 1 serving (1 ounce)?

a. 23

b. 9

c. 14

5. Nuts are a good source of protein. According to the USDA’s MyPyramid, the nut equivalent for every one ounce of meat is:

a. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

b. ½ ounce of nuts

c. neither, the proteins in nuts cannot replace protein from animal foods

d. both a and b

6. A study published in 2008 found that walnut consumption”¦

a. may improve math scores among high schoolers.

b. increases the growth rate of fingernails.

c. slows the growth of breast tumors in laboratory animals.

7. Studies have linked nuts to:

a. heart health

b. weight control

c. cancer prevention

d. all of the above, but primarily a

8. What accounts for the potential health benefits associated with nuts?

a. omega 3 fats

b. antioxidants

c. fiber and an overall healthy balance of fats

d. most likely synergy (combination of substances), but researchers are still figuring it out

9. The main reason nuts are so calorie-rich is they contain a lot of fat. The primary type of fat in most nuts is:

a. unsaturated fats

b. monounsaturated fat

c. omega-3 fat

10. The key to receiving the health benefits of nuts is”¦

a. portion size.

b. moderation.

c. replace nuts for more caloric, less nutritious foods.

Scoring Your Nut Knowledge:

  1. c – give yourself 3 points

a or b – 2 points

Nuts are packed with calories and nutrients. Calorie density, often referred to as energy density, is a relative term when comparing food calories. Foods that are calorie-dense (energy dense) have more calories ounce-for-ounce than foods that have low-energy density. Likewise, foods that are nutrient dense have more nutrients ounce-for-ounce than foods that have low-nutrient density.

You can read more about calorie density in a Nutrition Notes column.

2. c – give yourself 3 points “¨

b – 2 points

The USDA National Nutrient Database provides serving sizes and nutrition information for a variety of nuts.

  1. d – 3 more points

a or b – 2 points

Peanuts pack a lot of healthful compounds and yes, in the botanic world, they are legumes. Legumes are plants that grow as bushes and vines and develop pods that are edible, such as green beans, or contain an edible food, like peanuts. But from a nutrition perspective, peanuts share similar qualities to other nuts. For more information log on to The Peanut Institute.

  1. c Р3 pointsӬb Р2 points
  2. d – 3 more points

a or b – 2 points

Nuts fall under the Meat & Beans group of MyPyramid. Proteins are somewhat different, depending upon the food source, but nut proteins can substitute for animal food proteins.

Plan your meals and read more about the food included in this group in MyPyramid.

  1. c – 3 points

After 35 days of feeding mice ground walnuts, the breast cancer tumors of the walnut-fed mice were only about half the size of the tumors in mice that were not fed walnuts.

Read more about the study, published in Nutrition and Cancer.

7. d – 3 points

a, b, c – 1 point

The strongest evidence for nut health benefits indicate that nuts may help reduce heart disease. But a growing body of research suggests that nuts can help with weight control, and fight cancer.

8. d

The studies continue.

9. b – 3 more points

c – 1 point

Most nuts contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats, a type of unsaturated fat. Often termed the “good” fat, unsaturated fats do not raise blood low-density cholesterol (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats also raise the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol. Walnuts are the only nut source that contains a significant amount of omega-3 fats, which are known for heart health and other health benefits. (See question 6.)

Read more about The Facts about Fats.

10. 3 points for all

Since all nuts are high in calories (240 to 285 per one-third cup) make sure you watch how many you eat. To avoid gaining weight as you gain nutritional benefits, substitute nuts for less healthy foods rather than adding them to what you currently eat.


21-30 points – Excellent. You are nut-wise.

12-20 – Pretty good. You can always learn more, but give yourself a pat on the back.

12 and below: You may want to explore AICR’s site and the Nutrition Facts labels on nut containers.

Image: macinate