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Nuts: Just a little goes a long way

(ran SPTP)

Question: Are soy nuts really nuts? How many nuts are considered a serving? C.K.

Answer: Soy nuts are not nuts but soy beans that have been either dry-roasted or fried. An ounce of nuts, soy or otherwise, is considered a serving. For soy nuts, that would be about 3 tablespoons and 140 calories.

The number of nuts per ounce varies depending on the type and weight of nut. For instance, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter, it takes only six large Brazil nuts to make an ounce compared with 158 pine nuts. Nuts contain fats, phytochemicals, fiber, protein, vitamin E, as well as zinc, folate, copper, selenium and magnesium. The fat in nuts is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and they contain no cholesterol.

Nuts are a high-fat high calorie food, so watch how many you eat. An ounce of nuts can range from 160 to 200 calories depending on the type of nut you eat. Enjoy nuts by the handful, not the bowlful.

Energy bars

Question: Are all energy bars alike? Beth, Dunedin

Answer: Energy bars were originally marketed to athletes looking for endurance when exercising for more than 90 minutes. There is no established labeling definition for "energy bars" and they now encompass meal replacement bars, protein bars, diet bars and bars made just for women. Meal replacement bars are generally larger than energy bars.

When purchasing any type of energy bar, read the label. Many of these bars are fortified with vitamins and minerals far exceeding the Recommended Daily Allowance.

Athletes looking for an energy bar should choose a bar that is high in carbohydrates, low in protein and fat. Bars that contain a lot of fat and protein are more difficult to digest and absorb during exercise.

Dietitian Stephanie Tober welcomes your questions about nutrition and will respond to those of general interest in future columns. Sorry, she can't take phone calls or answer individual requests. Send questions to her in care of Taste, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail her at Please include your name and city of residence.