Why should you go nuts for nuts? Here’s why: Not only are they a very healthy snack food, they also pack quite a punch when in terms of nutrients.
Nuts are also loaded with heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which reduces LDL, or what experts call “bad” cholesterol. And they’re also a great source of phytosterols, which are compounds that help lower blood cholesterol.
Nuts are packed of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium, proving that great things sometimes come in small packages.
However, you’d be nuts to eat huge portions as these are high in fat and calories. While a handful can tide you over until your next meal, too much can ruin your appetite. In addition, nuts can also become your diet’s enemy when you’re gobbling up the sugar or salt-coated kind.
So to give you a better idea of which kind of nut would be best for you, here is a closer look at the pros and cons of various nuts.
BEST NUTS FOR YOUR DIET – Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios
According to experts, all nuts are just about equal in terms of calories per ounce. And when consumed in moderate quantities, can be beneficial for your diet with their combination of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.
The nuts with the lowest calorie count are almonds (23 nuts; 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat); cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat); and pistachios (49 nuts; 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat). Experts also suggest that you avoid packaged nuts and those roasted in oil.
WORST NUT FOR YOUR DIET – Macadamia Nuts, Pecans
Macadamia nuts (10 to 12 nuts; 2 grams protein, 21 grams fat) and pecans (18 to 20 halves; 3 grams protein, 20 grams fat) have the most calories (200 each) to go with the smallest amounts of protein and the highest amounts of fats.
But don’t get it twisted; they are still good nuts with the difference between these and the low calorie ones being only 40 calories an ounce. So long as proper rationing is observed when eating macadamias and pecans, you’ll still get a healthy dose of beneficial nutrients.
BEST NUT FOR YOUR HEART – Walnuts
While all nuts have heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, walnuts set itself apart from all the nuts with their high amount of heart-healthy alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants.
Studies have indicated that ALA may aid heart arrhythmias, and research conducted in Spain back in 2006 2006 also proposed that walnuts were just as effective as olive oil in lessening inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal.
BEST NUT FOR YOUR BRAIN – Peanuts
Peanuts are a great source of folate, a mineral that is important for brain development, which may also guard against cognitive decline. Peanuts are also packed with healthy fats and vitamin E as well, which can help boost your brain’s function.
BEST NUTS FOR MEN – Brazil Nuts, Pecans
Brazil nits contain selenium, a mineral that can guard against prostate cancer and other diseases. However, experts suggest that you eat these sparingly as research has suggested that too much selenium may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
Pecans on the other hand, are packed with beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that can aid in the relief of symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate.
BEST NUTS FOR DISEASE PREVENTION – Almonds
Almonds have more calcium than any other nut, and are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps combat threatening inflammation and even health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.