I always feel conflicted about nuts, I knew there were a bunch of health benefits (wasn’t really sure what they were) and I also knew they were higher in calories, so I was a little apprehensive to dig in to the nuts. The more I read the more I find that everyone should be eating more nuts (except for those with allergies, obviously :)). And according to Rachel Grumman Bender from Everyday Health, “If nuts aren’t in your regular snack rotation, you’re missing out on major disease-fighting nutrients that protect your heart, boost brainpower, and more.”
Nuts are underrated as nutritious snacks — and walnuts may get the shortest shrift of the bunch. New research has crowned the walnut the healthiest nut, with almost twice as many heart-healthy antioxidants as other kinds. But even though walnuts may be king, all nuts boast powerful nutrients that can promote weight loss, boost heart health, power down PMS, and even lower cancer risk.
Walnuts: Inflammation Fighters. In addition to containing the most antioxidants of all nuts, which help protect your body from the cellular damage that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging, “walnuts are also the richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation,” says Joy Bauer. A walnut snack may also turn around a bad day during that time of the month: The manganese they contain may reduce PMS symptoms.
Almonds: Good for Your Gut. Almonds contain the most fiber — about three grams per ounce — compared to other nuts, and are richest in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Almonds may even help you slip into those skinny jeans. Other research shows that almonds are especially healthy for people worried about their blood sugar: Those who ate about 20 percent of their calories from almonds for four months saw their bad LDL cholesterol drop and their insulin resistance decrease compared to a control group who didn’t eat them.
Cashews: Brainpower Boosters. Cashews are particularly rich in iron and zinc. “Iron helps deliver oxygen to all of your cells, which can prevent anemia, and zinc is critical to immune health and healthy vision,” says Bauer. Cashews are also a good source of magnesium, which may help improve memory and protect against age-related memory loss, according to a study in the journal Neuron.
Pecans: Artery Defenders. Pecans aren’t just for making tasty pies, they can also help improve your heart health. “Pecans are among the most antioxidant-rich nuts,” says Bauer. “They may help prevent plaque formation in your arteries.” Pecans may also buffer your brain health, according to an animal study from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The vitamin E found in the nuts could delay progression of degenerative neurological diseases.
Brazil Nuts: Potent Cancer Protector. Just one Brazil nut packs more than 100 percent of the daily value for the mineral selenium, which may help prevent certain cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. A recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that the selenium found in Brazil nuts, along with soy, may help fight prostate cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells. However, don’t overdo it on Brazil nuts: High levels of selenium can be harmful, so stick to a serving or less.
Macadamia Nuts: The Most MUFAs. Although ounce for ounce they’re one of the most calorie-dense nuts, macadamia nuts contain the greatest amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (MUFA) per serving. “This ‘good fat’ lowers LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and blood pressure,” says Bauer.
Pistachios: The Skinniest Nut. Pistachios are the most slimming nuts, with less than four calories each. Their shells make them especially dieting-friendly, slowing your eating pace all together. Pistachios are rich in the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a form of cancer-fighting vitamin E. Pistachios are also packed with potassium, a mineral essential for a healthy nervous system and muscles, and are a good source of vitamin B6, which can lift your mood, fortify your immune system, and more.
Hazelnuts: More Than Just Coffee Flavoring. An all-around healthy nut, hazelnuts are notable for their high levels of monounsaturated fats, which can improve cardiovascular health and help to manage type 2 diabetes, according to Bauer. They’re also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, which may prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, maintain healthy skin, and reduce risk of dementia.