The Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health

nuts

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Nuts have gotten quite a bit of attention lately. Probably because people are finally recognizing that nuts have numerous health benefits. All nuts are terrific sources of protein, minerals, fatty acids, and various other nutrients that benefit the body in many ways.

Now having said that, there are some nuts that just aren’t as healthy for you as others and that’s a fact, especially when you are talking about how nuts are packaged.

Take a look at some of the best nuts you can eat, depending on what you are looking for, and the nuts you should probably avoid, or at least keep consumption to a bare minimum.

 

Best Nuts for Your Brain: Peanuts

OK, so they are technically legumes, but everyone calls them peanuts! These nuts are high in folate, a very essential mineral for the development of the brain that may also protect you from cognitive decline.

Peanuts are also good for vegetarians who often come up short in the folate department, and for pregnant women who need folate to keep their unborn babies safe from birth defects. Peanuts are full of those brain boosting healthy fats and lots of vitamin E, which many people lack.

Just one ounce of peanuts ( about 28 unshelled ) have 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and about 170 calories so they make a healthy snack, but eat in moderation.

Brazil nut, healthy food ingredient in heart shaped tray

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Best Nuts for Men: Pecans and Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are loaded with mineral called selenium, which can protect men from prostate cancer and other diseases. It doesn’t take much, either, just one large Brazil nut per day gives you more selenium than you need in a day. Don’t eat more than a few because some research says that eating too much selenium might lead to diabetes.

 

SEE ALSO: A Lack of This One Mineral Can Cause Male Infertility

 

Pecans are another good choice for men’s health as they are full of a plant steroid called beta-sitosterol, which might relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Just one ounce of pecans (about 20 halves) has 200 calories, 3 grams of protein, and 21 grams of fat.

Almond Nut

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Best Nuts for Disease Prevention: Almonds

Lower in calories than most nuts, almonds have more calcium than any other nut around, which makes them great for overall health.

They are also a good source of fiber and vitamin E, an important antioxidant that fights inflammation and other dangerous health conditions such as age-related cognitive decline and lung cancer. Almonds are a favorite because they are so versatile.

Be sure to buy raw, organic almonds for the best health. Just one ounce of almond has about 160 calories so eat a handful and feel good about it.

walnut and a cracked walnut isolated on the white background

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Best Nuts for Your Heart: Walnuts

Although it’s true that all nuts have heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have super high amounts of alpha linoleic acid, or ALA. Studies show that ALA can help heart arrhythmias.

One study done in Spain in 2006 showed that walnuts were just as effective as olive oil for removing oxidation in the arteries as well as reducing inflammation in the body, even after eating a fatty meal. In the Spanish study, only 8 walnuts per day were necessary to achieve these heart healthy benefits.

One ounce of walnuts ( about 14 halves) have 18 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 185 calories, which means that for about 100 calories, you can get plenty of heart healthy protection for a small amount of calories. Read more about benefits of walnuts.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Best Nuts for Dieters: Pistachios, Almonds, or Cashews

If you are trying to lose a little weight then you are probably very conscious about how many calories you are consuming.

You might have even shied away from nuts thinking that they are simply too full of calories for a small quantity but that would be a mistake. Nuts have so many health benefits; it would be a mistake to leave them out of your diet. A handful of nuts are all it takes and they make one of the world’s most perfect snacks. Almonds, pistachios, and cashews all have about 160 calories per ounce and are full of healthy fats your body needs. Find out how to change your meals to lose weight.

They are also good sources of protein, which means that they will help to keep you feeling full and more satisfied in between meals.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

The Bad and The Ugly

Many of the bad nuts in this world actually come from the way humans process them and not so much the nuts themselves. Avoid the following:

  • Nuts that have been roasted in hydrogenated oils
  • Nuts that have undergone high temperatures. This destroys many of the healthy nutrients that make nuts so good for you in the first place.
  • Nuts coated with sugar such as toffee or caramel
  • Nuts that come in plastic tubs. Almost all these nuts are mixed with unhealthy such as yogurt covered raisins, candy, chocolate pieces, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Beer Nuts, which are nothing more than healthy peanuts covered in a sweet and salty glaze that only adds empty calories.

Buying nuts in bulk can help you save money but be careful when you go snacking that you don’t sit down with the huge package and start munching away, chances are really good that you are going to overeat. Grab a handful, and then put the package away!