Nutritional experts have long stated the health benefits of nuts. Most types of nuts contain a good amount of protein and healthy fats. According to the Harvard Medical School, eating certain types of nuts may help lower levels of bad cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. Although the amount of nutrients vary, most types of nuts contain substances, such as omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols and Vitamin E, which lower cholesterol and help keep the heart healthy. And while almost all nuts have some health benefits, some are healthier than others. When choosing which nuts to add to your diet, consider some of the healthiest nuts listed below.
Almonds top the list as far as healthy nuts go. In addition to being a good source of fiber, protein and zinc, almonds contain monounsaturated fats. Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats, help prevent heart disease. Studies indicate eating almonds instead of saturated fats may reduce heart disease risk by as much as 45 percent.
Along with healthy fats, almonds also contain about 25 percent of the daily requirements for magnesium, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods. Consuming recommended amounts of magnesium is important since deficiencies have been linked to heart attacks and high blood pressure. Almonds are also a good source of nutrients, such as manganese, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.
High in vitamins and minerals including potassium and copper, walnuts are also one of the healthiest nuts you could choose. They contain the mineral manganese, which keeps bones healthy, regulates blood sugar levels and helps your body absorb other nutrients.
Walnuts also contain a unique form of vitamin E, which is believed to prevent heart disease in men. One additional nutritional benefit to eating walnuts is they are one of the best sources of omega-3 fats, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Eating foods high in omega-3 fats may help reduce your risk of certain types of cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer. Omega-3 fats also play an important role in healthy brain function.
If you’re looking for a nut that is lower in calories than most, pistachios are a good choice. Nicknamed the “skinny nut”, pistachios are also lower in fat than other types of nuts. Similar to other nuts, pistachios also are high in healthy fats, potassium and magnesium. They are also packed with different types of vitamin B including B6, biotin, folate and riboflavin.
There are several health benefits of adding pistachios to your diet. According to a study conducted at Penn State University, subjects who added pistachios to their diet were able to lower their cholesterol level about 12 percent, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Pistachios also contain important antioxidants including zeaxanthin and lutein. Both of the antioxidants play a role in keeping the eyes healthy.
Cashews provide a good source of minerals, such as manganese and copper. Although your body does not need a high level of copper, the mineral plays an important role in keeping the body functioning properly. Cooper helps in the formation of red blood cells and also in collagen formation. It also helps keep the immune system and nerve cells healthy.
Comparable to other types of nuts, cashews also contain healthy fats. In fact, 75 percent of the fat in cashews is from monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce total cholesterol levels. Researches are discovering healthy fats not only help protect against heart disease but may also play a part in regulating moods.
Brazil nuts have a high level of the trace mineral selenium. A one ounce serving of Brazil nuts contains over six times the daily recommended allowance of the mineral. Although selenium may not be as widely recognized as other minerals, it plays a part in several body functions.
Selenium is believed to help immune function and may help reduce the chances of certain types of cancers including prostate cancer. According to the University of California, Berkeley, early research indicates selenium may also help reduce the chances of asthma attacks and rheumatoid arthritis. Keep in mind, since Brazil nuts are so high in selenium, eating too many can lead to selenium toxicity.
Brazil nuts also contain magnesium, fiber and protein. As with most other types of nuts, Brazil nuts also have omega-3 fatty acids. Although a healthy nut, Brazil nuts also have a higher level of saturated fats than other nuts, so eating them in moderation is important.
With all the health benefits of nuts, adding some to your diet is one way to lower your risk of heart disease. In addition to grabbing a handful of nuts for a quick snack, there are several ways to increase the amount of nuts you eat. Consider tossing a spoonful of nuts onto a salad, in cereal or on top of yogurt. Keep in mind; nuts tend to be high in calories, so it is essential to watch portion size.