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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Your Favorite Nuts!
Nuts are super tasty, but they are perhaps the most underrated snacks around. Some of the health benefits of nuts are absolutely astounding, offering us everything from lower cholesterol levels to a lower risk of developing cancer.
The sad truth is most Americans don’t eat enough nuts. They actually account for less than 8 percent of our intake of antioxidants every day. This might be because people are in a way afraid that nuts contain too much fat or that nuts are old fashioned or boring. Whatever the reason, it’s a terrible shame that we aren’t eating more nuts and filling ourselves with fiber, protein, healthy fats, and minerals.
Don’t believe it? Keep reading and check out everything your favorite nut has to offer you so you can stop feeling guilty about eating them!
1. Hazelnuts: So Much More Than a Coffee Flavoring
Although it’s true that hazelnuts make terrific flavoring for coffee and baked goods, did you know that hazelnuts are high in those healthy monounsaturated fats? Monounsaturated fats can improve overall cardiovascular health and even help to manage type 2 diabetes.
Hazelnuts are also high in vitamin E, an important antioxidant that is important for skin healthy and the prevention of cataracts, reduce the risk of dementia and prevent macular degeneration.
2. Walnuts: Wild Inflammation Fighters
Walnuts have more antioxidants than any other nut, which means that they can protect your body from the free radicals which cause damage on a cellular level and contribute to many diseases including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and premature aging. Being high in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts fight inflammation.
If you don’t like fish or if you are on a vegan diet, then walnuts are a great source of those healthy omega-3s. Also, studies have shown that eating an ounce of walnuts each day can help prevent PMS symptoms due to their high manganese levels.Find out why you should be eating more walnuts.
3. Pistachios: A Dieters Favorite
With less than four calories each, pistachios might be the most slimming nuts around. Because most pistachios sold in the shell, this also helps dieters because it makes you automatically slow down the pace. The University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center conducted research that found that eating just two ounce of pistachios each day might be able to reduce the risk of lung cancer.
These tasty nuts are also loaded with potassium, which is important for lower blood pressure levels, a healthy central nervous system, and muscle function. Pistachios are also a great source of vitamin B6, which strengthen the immune system and improve your mood.
4. Almonds: Super for the Stomach
Of all the tree nuts, almonds contain the most fiber. They are also the richest in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant. These nuts might just also help you fit into last year’s jeans. One study that was published in the International Journal of Obesity found that when two groups of obese adults consumed low calorie diets over a six month period, the group that consumed almonds as a part of their diet lost more weight than those who did not.
These nuts might also help you avoid diabetes. Other studies show that those who consumed about 20 percent of their overall calories from almonds over a 4 month period saw their insulin resistance decrease and their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels drop. Almonds can even keep your gut bacteria healthy which can improve your immune system response.
5. Macadamia Nuts: Heart Healthy from Hawaii
Even though macadamia nuts are the most calorie dense nuts on the plant, they are also rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fat. These fats are healthy and can lower blood pressure as well as the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood.
One study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University study, discovered that those who consumed macadamia nuts to their diets had lower triglyceride levels, lower cholesterol levels, and lower LDL cholesterol levels by about 10 percent.
6. Cashews: Big Brain Boosters
Iron delivers oxygen to every cell in your body, which can prevent anemia. Zinc is absolutely critical to your immune health as well as good vision. Cashews are high in both of these important minerals. These nuts are also a great source of magnesium, which can improve memory and protect you from age-related memory.
Just one ounce of cashews every day can give you 25 percent of your daily requirement of magnesium, so don’t hide that cashew habit any longer! Eat up!
7. Brazil Nuts: Potent Cancer Protection
Believe it or not, just one Brazil nut ( not one ounce, one nut!) has more than 100 percent of your daily recommended intake for selenium, which has been shown in studies to prevent certain types of cancer, including prostate, breast, and bone cancer.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Nuts for Snacking
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found a link between the selenium in Brazil nuts and the arrested development of prostate cancer. Don’t get carried away with these nuts, however, as high levels of selenium can be harmful. Eat just one or two every day for the best results.
8. Pecans: Artery Protection
Yes, pecans make those super tasty pies, but in addition to that, they can improve your overall health heart. Pecans have more antioxidants than any other nut and can stop the formation of plaque in the arteries. The Journal of Nutrition published a study which found that eating pecans can help to lower bad cholesterol levels by as much as 33 percent!
Pecans can also protect your brain, since the vitamin E in these nuts can delay the progression of neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
9. Chestnuts: The Low Fat Favorite
Not as popular as they once were, this is a shame because chestnuts are super low in fat but are super high in fiber and vitamin C. They are a bit lower in protein than other nuts but make up for that with their vitamin C, and B vitamins, including B6.
You can grind up these nuts and use them as a substitution for gluten in any baking recipe. Roast them for a tasty snack, just as your grandparents most likely did!
10. Pine Nuts: Tiny Package but Tons of Nutrition
Not as common as many other tree nuts, but still super delicious. Rich in vitamin A and lutein, both of which are well known for improving and maintaining healthy vision. These nuts also have vitamin D, are a good source of iron, as well as magnesium and protein, which makes these some of the most nutrition rich nuts in the tiniest little package!
You should note that if you are a peanut eater, these are not really considered to be true nuts and are less healthy for you than tree nuts. True nuts come from trees (peanuts are grown in the soil) and tree nuts have many health benefits, such as the ones mentioned above, while peanuts have not been found to have any real health benefits other than being a good source of protein.
You should also note that nuts can be high in fat and calories, so you should always consume them in moderation. One or two ounces each day is all it takes to get all of the health benefits.