Nuts are an important part of a healthy diet due to their disease preventing properties and overall health benefits.
They are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, while at the same time being very low in saturated fat with no cholesterol. This is similar to the benefits of olive oil and other vegetables. They are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, muscle-building protein, colon and heart healthy fiber, nutrients, minerals, B vitamins, and phytosterols. This is a whole lot of health in such a very tiny package.
Not to say there aren’t some nuts that are more beneficial than others, which we will go over later. The point is that even though the least beneficial nut for your health, is still healthier than any bag of chips – unless of course, you are allergic.
Raw vs Roasted
When purchasing nuts, I strongly recommend buying raw varieties. You can find almost every type of nut at a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s type store, although any health food store will have most available in raw varieties. Trader Joe’s is relatively inexpensive for how many you get.
Not only do raw nuts taste better, they also have no bad oils, salt, or added sugars. Canned nuts are loaded in salt and sometimes sugar, while roasted varieties are cooked at very high temperatures in artery clogging oils. Like overcooking vegetables, roasting depletes the nuts’ nutritional value as well.
Please Enjoy in Moderation
While I always encourage the consumption of nuts, due to their dense caloric nature, you need to make sure to enjoy your nuts in moderation. Nuts are very easy to eat too much of – trust me. Aim for one ounce or less, which is usually a small handful, depending on the size of the nuts. It doesn’t matter what diet you’re eating, nuts are always something you should be enjoying daily. However have more than the recommended serving size, and you might watch your waistline growing.
Like everything else in life, not all nuts offer the same health benefits. While some are high in protein and heart healthy fats, some are loaded in calories and saturated fat while being less protein rich. Here is a breakdown of the most popular nuts:
|Type of Nut||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Total Fat|
The Nuttiest Awards
While all nuts are beneficial to you, there are some that are more-so. Here are the official awards:
The Skinniest Nut
As you can tell from the chart, the skinniest nut is the pistachio. At only three calories each, these shelled little beauties slow down consumption time, so you ultimately eat less of them. And an actual study showed that when participants kept their shells in front of them, they consumed 35% less than those who discarded the shells as they ate them. Pistachios also contain lutein and zeaxanthin to helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
The Heart-Healthiest Nut
If you’re eating nuts strictly for their heart-healthy properties, then walnuts are the best option. Not only are they rich in Omega-3s like all nuts, they also contain alpha linoleic acid, which protects your heart. They also protect your skeleton by decreasing the rate of bone breakdown and keeping its formation constant.
The Brainiest Nut
Although not truly a nut, but a legume, peanuts are high in folate. Folate is a mineral that is essential for brain development and may help in preventing cognitive decline with age. Like almost all other nuts, they are full of vitamin E and brain-boosting healthy fats.
The Healthiest Nut Overall
And the award for the Best Nut Overall at preventing disease is…the almond! Yes, this is why almonds are pushed as a snack in the Brazil Butt Lift diet, and why you see and hear about their benefits all the time. In fact, their fiber is high enough that it just might block some of its own fat content, and its antioxidant vitamin E is what gets inside cell membranes to help protect against free radical damage.
To Eat or Nut to Eat…
Okay, bad pun, I know…but if you’re not already enjoying the health benefits of nuts, it’s never too late to start. There really is no good reason, except for an allergy, not to enjoy nuts. In a study of 86,000 women ages 34-59 , those who enjoyed eating 5 0z. of nuts each week vs those who ate less than one ounce of nuts per month were 35% less likely to suffer a heart attack in a fourteen year period. This should be more than enough reason to start eating nuts, not to mention how they can improve skin, hair, and nails as well.
Just be sure to always enjoy in moderation :)