8 Amazing Reasons Why Your Diet Should Go “Nuts”
By Alyssa Kessel, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian
Nuts are one of my favorite healthy snacks. They’re high in healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), protein and fiber (which will keep you feeling full longer), and antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. But not all nuts are created equal. Each variety has unique health benefits – check them out below!
Almonds are one of the highest fiber counts of all nuts, with almost 4 grams of fiber per 1 oz serving. They are also high in protein and vitamin E.
Research shows that adding almonds into your diet can be very beneficial to your health. One study reported that eating almonds every day resulted in a decrease in cholesterol levels and belly fat. Another study – published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition – showed that increasing almonds in your diet helped improve insulin sensitivity and reduce cholesterol in adults with prediabetes.
Cashews provide us with heart healthy fats, with 80% of these fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These delicious nuts are also high in antioxidants that can help protect you against free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Additionally, cashews are also a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and are particularly rich in zinc. You will even find 20% of your daily requirement of magnesium in just one ounce of cashews! (Getting enough magnesium can help improve memory and protect against age-related memory loss.)
Walnuts are the nut richest in omega-3-fatty acids, which help fight inflammation. The omega-3’s in walnuts have been shown to help lower your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Walnuts are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that are known to help lower inflammation levels and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Pecans are one of the best nuts to boost your cardiovascular health. A study published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association showed that pecans help lower LDL cholesterol levels, even in people with normal cholesterol. Plus, pecans are among the most antioxidant-rich nuts that may help prevent plaque formation in arteries.
Similar to pecans, hazelnuts have high levels of monounsaturated fats that can help improve cardiovascular health. They also contain 3 grams of fiber, copper, magnesium, thiamin, and vitamin E!
Pistachios contain the lowest number of calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, protein, and fiber!
In contrast to pistachios, macadamia nuts have the most calories per one ounce serving. They contain high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as nutrients like thiamine and manganese.
Brazil nuts contain heart-healthy fats, magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, and riboflavin. They also are one of the best sources of selenium you can find in food, with more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance in one nut! Selenium is important for metabolism, immunity, and reproductive health, as well as helping the body absorb vitamin E. Selenium can also help prevent certain cancers, like bone, prostate, and breast. Just remember to eat healthy portions and don’t overdo it.
With all of these amazing health benefits, you really can’t go wrong with picking one of these 8 delicious nuts. As with all food, portion control is key; nuts are high in calories and generally a handful (1 oz) is all you need to reap their health benefits. An easy way to keep yourself from eating too many is to buy calorie-controlled pack (plain and unsalted are the best choices).
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