How many nuts can we eat safely each day? I eat a lot of a Cashews. Are they high in fat? Do they have any nutritional benefits?

By Joanne Gooley, Clinical dietician, UC Davis Medical Centre. (Source: The Cracker, Sept. 2002)

There is not a set amount of nuts one can safely eat each day.

At least 75 percent of the calories in nuts (except chest nuts) Comes from fat, and yes, nuts do offer nutritional benefits.

Although the fat content of nuts is very high; the type of fat in nuts is mostly mono-unsaturated fat, which does not raise cholesterol levels and may actually help lower cholesterol.

Nuts are good source of protein and can provide vitamin E, calcium copper, folic acid, iron and zinc as well as dietary fibre.As far as fat and calories, 1/4 cup of cashews contains about 15 grams of fat and 180 calories.

To put this in context, as per American Heart Association guidelines, fat intake in a 2,000-calories-a-day diet should be no more than 66 grams per day, and in a 2,400-calorie-diet, no more than 80 grams per day.

When eaten in moderation, nuts are a safe bet in a healthful diet. Be sure to read labels and keep the total-fat-per-day intake guidelines in mind when choosing nuts.