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Top 10 Best Nuts for Snacking
Everyone love nuts, but in the last 25 years or so they have gotten a bad rep because of the low fat craze that began in the early 1990s. People turned away from most nuts because of their high fat content. The saying back then was “eating fat makes you fat,” but nothing could be further from the truth.
Thank goodness all the low-fat stuff is now passé. People are beginning to realize that eating natural, healthy fats is not only OK, but essential to your diet and overall health.
Scientific evidence shows that eating about 1.5 ounces of nuts per day is a healthy part of diet that can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Of course, for everyone who loves nuts, this is fantastic news. Nuts are one of the best choices for a healthy snack as long as you don’t overdo it. Nuts are high in calories, but just about a handful of these crunchy goodies will get you all the health benefits you need. On top of that, you can eat that handful every single day! Eat them plain, add them to a salad or in your Greek yogurt or in a smoothie, nuts work well in just about anything you can imagine.
You should note that the healthiest nuts contain two different types of fats: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These are the good fats that help to lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Research shows that these healthy nuts can be helpful for the lining of the arteries, which will help lower your risk of developing blood clots that could lead to a stroke or heart attack.
You simply cannot go wrong by eating a handful of nuts as daily snack! Each type of nut contains a slightly different nutritional content, but all have tremendous health benefits. There are a few nuts that stand out from the pack as far as which is the healthiest nuts to choose.
Keep reading for the best nuts you and your family can snack on and get the most nutrition out of each and every little crunchy bite.
Hands down, no question, walnuts are tops when it comes to health benefits. This is because walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid. Just a ¼ cup of delicious walnuts will give you a whopping 91 percent of your recommended daily allowance. Omega-3 fats give us a wide range of protection; everything from stroke, heart disease, arthritis, depression, even cancer.
Walnuts also contain melatonin, which is a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep cycles. They contain super beneficial antioxidants as well. One in particular, ellagic acid helps to support your immune system and has anti-cancer compounds. Ellagic acid can prevent carcinogens from binding to our DNA and encourages the death of cancer cells, according to recent research.
So perhaps the fountain of youth isn’t really a liquid, but rather, a nut! Walnuts come darn close to being a youthful renewing system with their ability to improve your memory, heart health, reduce inflammation, and their anti-cancer benefits!
Although many of the nuts on this list are tree nuts, peanuts are an exception. One of the most popular nuts around, peanuts are another anti-aging treasure chest.
These little nuts contain resveratrol, the same powerful antioxidant you find in dark chocolate and red wine. Resveratrol are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and for slowing the aging process.
Peanuts are high in vitamin E and folic acid, which are important for your brain. Eat peanuts raw (who doesn’t enjoy cracking open those shells?) or try some no sugar added peanut butter.
If you are interested in getting the most heart healthy nuts around, look no further than pistachios. These tasty nuts contain l-arginine, which makes the lining of your arteries soft and more flexible.
This can greatly reduce your risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Pistachios are also lower in calories than many other nuts and since these are generally sold in the shell, they can help you to slow down and moderate your rate of consumption and your digestion.
Who doesn’t love almonds? You will probably love them even more once you find out they are a fantastic source of protein as well as those healthy monounsaturated fats we talked about earlier. Almonds also offer the unique benefits of stabilizing your blood sugar levels, so if you are diabetic, then almonds are the nuts you want to snack on.
Eating almonds leads in increases in your antioxidant levels, which can help to fight the damage the free radicals cause. Eating almonds with a meal helps to stabilize your blood sugar even when you are eating foods that typically cause your blood sugar to spike, things like bread or sugar. One study showed that when subjects ate almonds along with bread, it reduced the overall glycemic index of the meal.
So perhaps some almond butter on your toast in the morning will lower the overall impact of the meal on the blood sugar levels in your body. What a terrific and tasty benefit!
5. Pine Nuts
Most people don’t think of pine nuts as a nut to snack on as they are generally used in cooking, but these are nutrient rich nuts that can really help to lower that LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Pine nuts are simply loaded with manganese, which is an important factor for one your body’s most powerful antioxidants.
Of course, pine nuts are the fundamental ingredient for pesto sauce, so if you don’t want to consume them as a snack, you can always spoon them into your diet via pesto sauce.
Most people only think of eating pecans during the holidays…as in pie…but these are another one of the healthiest nuts around and you shouldn’t limit yourself to only eating them only during the holidays.
Pecans are super high in antioxidants, including vitamin E, which is super important for your brain. Snacking on a handful of pecans each day can help stop the oxidation of blood lipids, which means they can prevent cardiovascular disease.
Actually, pecans rank the highest among all nuts for their antioxidant power. This can mean that they are the most beneficial for reducing your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Pecans also pack more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin A, which make these a super smart choice for snacks.
7. Brazil Nuts
These super-sized nuts are a staple in most candies and mixed nut packages, but they are nutritional bombs all by themselves.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which encourages your body to make its own disease fighting antioxidants. They are also high in zinc, which not only helps to fight cold and flu viruses, they also help your body to build new skin cells, keeping you younger looking.
You might also want to pass that nut bowl over to your hubby, as Brazil nuts have been shown in several studies to help prevent prostate cancer.
With a lower fat content than most nuts, cashews are an all-time favorite. About 75 percent of the fats that cashews contain are oleic acid, a super heart healthy fat, the same one found in olive oil.
Cashews are a great source of magnesium also, a mineral that your body requires to run the more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body. Without magnesium you wouldn’t have a normal blood pressure, your immune system would suffer, your bones would be weaker, and your muscles would not work at their optimal best.
The National Institutes of Health state that most Americans lack sufficient amount of magnesium so grab a handful of these yummy nuts and feel good about the magnesium you are adding to your body.
9. Macadamia Nuts
These juicy nuts from Hawaii are often thought of as only a decadent treat, but there really is no reason why you shouldn’t add them to your regular diet. With 78 percent of their fats being heart healthy monounsaturated fats, this nut beats out even olive oil for being healthy.
Even though they have a high fat content, these nuts help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are the main culprits behind coronary artery disease. Macadamia nuts are also one of the few foods to contain Palmitoleic acid, which research shows might play a vital role in the metabolizing of fat and reduce overall body fat.
10. Hazel Nuts
Yes, that same flavor found in many coffee creamers! Hazel nuts are probably most known for their high levels of those heart healthy monounsaturated fats, which help to manage diabetes and overall cardiovascular health. Rich in one of the best antioxidants around, vitamin E, they can help prevent cataracts and support healthy vision. Research shows they might also help to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
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All nuts contain dietary fiber, about 25 percent of which is the type that will lower cholesterol levels and help with weight control. So feel free to go nuts over nuts!