5 Best Nuts for Your Health: Weight Loss, Energy and More

Health Alliance Plan
June 07, 2018 - 11:00 am
Nuts

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The health benefits of eating nuts are well documented. A 30-year study followed the nut consumption habits of nearly 120,000 study participants. Researchers concluded that nutrients found in tree nuts and peanuts (peanuts are technically legumes, but they were included in the study) lowered the risk of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Participants who ate three servings of nuts each week also enjoyed other health benefits including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gallstones, diverticulitis and inflammatory disease.

As if that weren't enough to convince you to add nuts to your diet, consider this: the high levels of protein will give you energy to power through your day and will satisfy your hunger. That is exactly what you need when the afternoon slump sends you to the vending machine and its unhealthy assortment of fatty snacks and candy.

 

A nutrient-dense morsel packed in a hard shell

Nuts are loaded with unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which increases healthy HDL cholesterol and lowers artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. They are fiber-rich, adding bulk to maintain bowel health and slow the absorption of sugars to better control blood sugar levels. Nuts are also a source of phytosterols, which work in the intestines to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the foods you eat.

 

So, which nuts are the best?

They are all good, but you do want to go easy on the macadamia nuts and pecans, as they are highest in fat and lowest in protein. You just don’t get as much nutritional bang for the number of calories consumed as you do with these on our top five list.

  1. Walnuts - This versatile nut is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the arteries. Walnuts are also a source of iodine, which is essential for thyroid health. Some women have found that walnuts mitigate the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  2. Pistachios - These little snacking nuts beat the others when it comes to watching calories, coming in at 158 calories per ounce. They are a source of potassium, which helps maintain blood pressure and balance fluids. A good choice if water retention is a problem.                                                                                                                                                                      
  3. Almonds - This nut is rich in vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that protect cells against damaging free radicals. They are also high in calcium, a mineral vital for building and maintaining strong bones.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  4. Cashews - This tasty vitamin pill is high in iron and is a source of the minerals magnesium, copper and calcium. Vitamins found in this crescent-shaped nut include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  5. Peanuts - The humble peanut is high in the mineral folate, which is vital for brain development and health. Peanuts are also loaded with phytosterols. According to a National Institute of Health study, adding 2 grams of plant sterols to your diet each day can lower “bad” cholesterol levels by as much as 15 percent. With nearly seven grams of protein per ounce, peanuts can replace red meat and other less heart-healthy protein sources. Peanut butter has all the same benefits, however, many commercial peanut butter brands add sugar, so be sure to check nutrition labels.
     

You can easily incorporate nuts into your diet. Try throwing a few on your breakfast cereal, add some to your salads and entrees, or enjoy them straight up for snacking. You only need a 1.5-ounce serving, three times a week, to reap the nutritional benefits. Keep in mind that the density of nutrients come with a high-calorie count, so nuts must be eaten in moderation to avoid weight gain.  

 

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