Nuts. They can be your best friends, or they can be your worst nightmare. In a world with an endless amount of options and convenience stores that sell enticing varieties of bagged snacks, filled with crunchy savory goodness, you can easily fall victim to a lustful salty bag of sultry seduction. With delicious choices that range from Pomegranate Vanilla Cashews, to Sea Salt and Black Peppered Macadamias, it can be a struggle to stick with just raw almonds. Today, we’re going to find out which nuts are healthy and which nuts you should avoid.
Are Nuts Healthy?
According to the Harvard Medical School Review, evidence suggests that eating nuts daily can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and may even help you live longer. In a 2013 study conducted by Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who ate nuts daily lived longer and healthier lives, than those who did not. Dr Hu and his panel of colleagues analyzed data from over 120,000 participants.
All the participants answered a questions regarding their diet, starting in the 1980’s, every two years during a 30 year follow up. Overall, those who ate nuts were 20% less likely to have died over the course of the study. If you still don’t know, nuts are healthy.
What Nuts Should You Eat?
All the nuts, duh. A handful of nuts can provide you with healthy monounsaturated fat, the heart-healthy fats that can lower bad cholesterol or LDL, while raising levels of HDL or good cholesterol. The nutritional profiles for nuts are all very similar and average around 180-200 calories per serving (1oz). They also provide key vitamins such as Vitamin E, Calcium, and Magnesium and nutrients that can help improve overall health.
When it comes to healthy nuts, Almonds are king. Almonds provide half of your daily value of Vitamin E (36%), which can help improve cognitive performance and memory. Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant, which helps fight free radicals. The best part about Almonds is not the amazing taste, but that eating almonds stimulates the production of cholecystokinin, a hunger-suppressing hormone.
Walnuts are rich in heart-healthy Omega 3’s and contain more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine. Besides being one tough nut to crack, walnuts prove to be a very healthy nut.
Cashews are rich in deliciousness and contain nearly the same macronutrient profile as almonds. But they do come out on top in Iron, which helps the body transport oxygen, which plays a vital role in blood and energy production.
Pistachios are just more fun than the other nuts. Not only do they tease you, but they keep you entertained and longing for more. One daily serving of Pistachios can help lower your LDL or bad cholesterol by nearly 12%. Pistachios are one of the healthy nuts you can eat.
Macadamia nuts contain the highest amount of monounsaturated fat of all nuts. Not only that but Macadamia nuts contain some of the most important essential vitamins and minerals, which include Vitamin A, B, Iron, Folate, and Manganese. They are also rich in Oleic acid and Omega 9 monounsaturated fat.
I guarantee your grandma who bakes her delicious Pecan Pies, probably doesn’t know that pecans pack more antioxidants than any other nut. They also contain a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, which isn’t found in supplement or any other variety of nuts. Add them to your diet, because they’re
Hazelnuts, much like pistachios help raise HDL, however, another interesting benefit of this healthy hero, is its rich content of arginine. Arginine helps promote the natural release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator and can help transport more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to help with athletic performance and recovery.
Peanuts are actually classified as legumes, not nuts. However, peanuts help increase satiety, which can help in regulating food intake. They also have a very high protein content, which makes them a great snack.
The most interesting fact about Brazil Nuts is that they pack more selenium (a mineral that helps keep sperm cells healthy) than any other food. I think it’s safe to say, that if you’re looking for a health nut, to make your nuts healthy, then eat some Brazilians.
What Nuts Shouldn't You Eat?
Don't get me wrong, I love a good nut or two. And, it's not that nuts aren't healthy, it's the combination of nuts and added ingredients that takes them from the perfect snack to a high-calorie bag of crap.
Just because it has nuts in it, doesn't make it healthy. (Yes, the Snickers bar you ate last night, not a good idea). With packaged nuts marketed as the perfect on-the-go snack, it's hard not to be deceived with manipulation. Added fruit, chocolate, and toffee or sugar coated nuts, add unwanted calories, which means more body fat. If you're watching what you eat, then stick with raw nuts, with no added ingredients, salt, or sweeteners.
Nuts are healthy for you, and the high protein content and healthy fats provide the perfect mix for the perfect snack. Adding a handful of nuts to your daily diet can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, not to mention keep you healthier, longer. My advice is to pick a few of your favorites and make your own mix out of them. You can even add some other superfoods like pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds to mix it up!