For years, nuts were shunned because of their fat content. Yes, nuts are high in fat, but most of the fat is healthful unsaturated fat -- the good kind of fat. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can help lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats go one step farther and improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels. In contrast, saturated fats and trans fats raise LDL levels.
Research suggests that, when part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, eating 1-1/2 ounces (a small handful) of nuts per day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Although nuts may provide health benefits, they're still a rich source of fat and calories, so you shouldn't simply add large amounts of nuts to your diet. Instead, use them in place of less healthful snacks or fats in recipes.
Toasting brings out the aroma and sweet flavor of nuts. Try toasting nuts before adding them to salads, dips, snacks, or other dishes in which they won't be cooked further. To toast, spread shelled nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, watching carefully and stirring once or twice.