Nuts are small parcels of good health. While they do contain fat, they’re also rich in nutrients that benefit all-round health. So which ones are the best? That’s a tough one. Some argue in favour of almonds, cashews and pistachios. An ounce of each of these contains 160 calories, 5-6 grams of protein, and 13-14 grams of fat. On the other hand, macadamias and pecans are not as healthy. They contain about one third the protein of other nuts, but nearly twice the amount of fat. Each macadamia nut has 20 calories, but they do still have health benefits when eaten in moderation.
Walnuts: Walnuts are among the best nuts for your heart. Though nuts in general have omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts also have high levels of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is said to reduce heart arrhythmia. Some studies have shown that, like olive oil, walnuts can reduce inflammation and oxidation in arteries after a meal. Eight walnuts a day is the recommended serving.
Brazil nuts & Pecans:These are both particularly good for men. The former is a rich source of the mineral selenium, which is said to protect men against prostate cancer and other diseases–just one a day is enough. An excess of Brazil nuts may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes, so don’t overdo it. Pecans have a plant steroid called betasitosteral, which eases the symptoms of an enlarged prostrate.
Peanuts:Did you know peanuts are not really nuts, but in fact legumes? Still, most people consider them nuts. They have high folate content, which helps brain development and inhibits the decline of cognitive functions. This makes them perfect for vegetarians, whose diets are short on the mineral. Peanuts are also good for pregnant women, and like actual nuts, they have an abundance of healthy fats and vitamin E.
Hazelnuts: One of the most popular flavouring agents whether in coffee or spreads, hazelnuts aren’t just delicious. They have a good amount of monounsaturated fat, which works to regulate heart health and blood sugar. We’re all aware of the benefits of foods that contain vitamin E, and hazelnuts are yet another great source.
Almonds: One of the best nuts to prevent disease, they are high in calcium, low in calories, and rich in fibre and vitamin E. That last nutrient acts as an antioxidant that combats inflammation and serious health conditions, like lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.
Pistachios: Fun to crack and eat, pistachios are great, especially for someone looking to stay fit. They are among the lowest-calorie nuts, so they won’t pack on the pounds. Pistachios are also full of potassium, which helps maintain nerve and muscle health.
Control is key: The best way to derive maximum benefit is to avoid binging on these tasty bundles of health. Buy small packets, with clear labels stating the calorie count. Even if you buy large quantities to save money, do not eat them directly from the packet, especially when you’re hungry. Instead, make smaller packets. A mix of various nuts is best for overall health. .
Pair & profit: It isn’t just important to know which nuts to eat, but what to pair them with. Of course, they go great with chocolate and in other desserts like pies. But perhaps the best things to pair them with are fruit and juice. They both aid digestion.
Fibre for you: One of the most important parts of a diet is fibre. Consuming foods high in fibre ensures proper digestion. Fibrous foods even stabilise blood sugar and boost metabolism. The soluble fibre in nuts lowers cholesterol and sugar levels to a degree.
One heart: Many nuts are helpful in aiding the functions of the heart. The arginine in several varieties provides an array of cardiovascular benefits. Arginine is an amino acid that reduces stress in blood vessels, which in turn improves blood flow and reduces the risk of clots. The fats, fibre and vitamin E all combine to further improve heart health. Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which we mentioned reduce irregular heart rhythms.
Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants are excellent for your body’s functioning. They combat the ageing process and reduce the risk of age-related diseases. Walnuts in particular are great at fighting inflammation, while all nuts have some anti-inflammatory properties.
Weight loss: Including nuts in your daily diet can help maintain your weight. A handful will satiate your hunger better than most snacks, ensuring you stay full without overeating. The fibre metabolises slowly, keeping your hunger at bay.
Brain power: You may have been told that walnuts are brain food. Though this may not sound convincing, walnuts can keep you sharp and prevent a decline in brain activity. Peanuts, on the other hand, improve neural health due to the vitamin B and folate they contain.
Nuts should, however, be eaten in moderation. While they are ideal for a quick snack, limit yourself to just a handful. It is easy to lose track of how much you eat, but be careful, as nuts are high in fat and calories. Too much will leave you feeling too full, all the while reducing the healthful impact. The best way to eat nuts is raw or roasted, without any oil or unhealthy garnishes. Nuts roasted in oil are unhealthy, as high temperatures can destroy their nutrients and beneficial properties.