As autumn approaches and the squirrels are frantically scavenging nuts and storing them for the winter because they fully understand that  “good things come in small packages” – they’re packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as a whole load of heart-healthy fats.

Yes, I did say fat, and it’s true that nuts do contain fat. That doesn’t make them the enemy, our bodies need healthy fats they help our brain to function, heart to beat and our knees to bend.  But it is a good idea to choose wisely when you’re standing at the supermarket’s dazzling array of different varieties, and choose the ones with the most bang for their buck.

The protein will help you “keep fuller for longer” and is the key to balancing your blood sugar levels and avoiding the big dips in your energy levels which often happen mid-morning and mid-afternoon and have you reaching for the cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit.

I would advise you to avoid peanuts and cashews, they’re too easy to eat by the bagful! Also avoid anything roasted in oil – choose raw, smoked or dry roasted every time – you want the good fats from the nuts, not a load of added fat.

And steer clear of chocolate coated, candy coated or honey roasted nuts, they’re pretty much sweets at that point (and don’t even think that a peanut-containing chocolate bar counts!)

Your best bet is to choose nuts that pack a punch in terms of flavour and nutrients, but that you won’t eat a whole bag of in one go – so Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts are great options.  A (small) handful goes a long way with these tiny packages of goodness.

Walnuts have great nutrients for your heart while Brazil nuts are particularly good for men’s health as they contain selenium (a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer).

Don’t overlook almonds either, they contain more calcium than any other nut, so if you’re looking to boost your intake without drinking endless glasses of milk, look no further.  Plus they’re amazingly versatile – you can get them roasted, steamed, smoked, chopped or in slivers so there are plenty of ways to add them into your diet.

Replace your snack with nuts or sprinkle them on porridge and salads, and do not fret about the calorie content – if nothing else, it’s a lot easier to cut down on your hazelnut habit than it is to curb the biscuit binge!

So be more squirrel this autumn!

Fiona Stephen is a nutritional therapist based in North London & Hertfordshire. Find out about our nutritional therapy consultations or contact Fiona Stephen Nutrition to discuss your requirements.