Are There Health Benefits?
It’s no secret that eating nuts is good for you.
And, most people think that these tasty tidbits are high in calories and fat, and they're right!
Admittedly, they are quite calorie dense.
On top of that, it's very tough not to overeat these tasty snacks.
Many diets, such as Atkins and Medifast frown upon that.
If you can restrain yourself from overeating them, they can definitely be a part of a healthy diet.
Researchers have been proving their cancer-fighting, brain-enhancing, weight-reducing and cholesterol-lowering capacity for years.
Research has documented that people who eat these mini super foods regularly have lower risks of heart disease.
In 1996, the Iowa Women's Healthy Study found that women who ate them 4 times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart disease.
Two years later, another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found a similar result in another group of women subjects.
Furthermore, potential heart health benefits were also found among men.
As long as you avoid eating them with salt and enjoy them in moderation (about a quarter cup a day) as part of a healthy diet, you could also help reduce your risk for coronary heart disease.
In 2002, the Physician's Health Study found that men who consumed these morsels 2 or more times per week had reduced risks of sudden cardiac death.
So....Grab a Handful
These super food morsels are one of the best plant sources of protein.
They're rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin-E and selenium.
They're also high in plant sterols and fat, but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 - the good fats), which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
The best approach is to reap the health benefits of eating them but not adding excessive calories to your daily intake.
So instead of simply adding them to your diet, eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats and limit your intake of these tasty morsels to 1 to 2 oz per day .
For instance, instead of adding chocolate chips when making cookies, sprinkle on some pecans or almonds.
Or instead of making a deli meat sandwich, try a nut-butter toast.
Bottom Line: The FDA has only approved the heart health claim for almonds, hazels, peanuts, pecans, some pines, pistachios and walnuts as these contain less than 4 g. of saturated fats per 50 g.
However that doesn't mean you should restrict yourself to these 7 only.
In addition to these super food morsels, seeds such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds may offer the same heart health benefits.
Again moderation is the key - limit your intake to 1 to 2 oz. of unsalted seeds per day.
But, know that not all are created equal
They can help keep you satiated and cut down on sweet cravings, too, but are some better than others?
Here are a few that we think you should be eating and why.
Definitely a chart-topper, almonds have less fat than many others and are jam-packed with nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants.
With 94 mg. of calcium per quarter cup, they’re a great bone-builder as well.
Plus, eating almonds has been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
They can also help decrease blood sugar levels, providing protection against diabetes.
What’s in them: 206 calories, 18 g. of fat, 1.3 g. saturated fat, 4 g. fiber and 7.5 g. of protein in one quarter cup.
Also known as filberts, these are a good source of Vitamin-E, providing 5 mg. of this skin-enhancing antioxidant.
They boast a healthy supply of B-vitamins like B6, which can help combat the effects of autism, eczema and possibly hypertension.
And filberts contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps treat insomnia and depression.
What’s in them: 212 calories, 20.5 g. of fat, 1.5 g. saturated fat, 3 g. fiber and 5 g. of protein in a quarter cup.
Who knew these were so good for you?
They’re one of the best plant sources of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3s, they can help reduce the effects of aging on your brain, improve your cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.
Besides serving as a prevention and treatment intervention for prostate cancer, this variety also demonstrably lowered the risk of heart disease by naturally decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as "bad" cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, also known as "good cholesterol."
The amazing thing about these and other whole foods, though, is that no single nutrient inside them can be pinpointed and isolated as the sole beneficial factor.
But their benefits don't stop there.
The are also high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help prevent the type of bone loss that comes with aging.
And at the same time, the protein in them helps to build muscle, which is associated with stronger bones.
That’s a lot for a little guy.
What’s in them: 164 calories, 16 g. fat, 1.5 g. saturated fat, 2 g. fiber and 4 g. protein in just a quarter cup.
In addition to providing essential vitamins and nutrients like folate and Vitamin-A, these tasty treats are high in manganese, a mineral that helps promote healthy bones and regulates blood sugar levels.
What’s in them: 171 calories, 18 g. fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 2 g. fiber and 2 g. protein in a quarter cup.
Cashews are better for you than you might think.
Most of their fat content comes from the healthy, unsaturated kind and most of this fat is from oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
One 28 g. serving of cashews contains 10 percent of your daily requirement for iron and they’re also high in magnesium, zinc and copper, which are important for strengthening bones and fighting disease.
What’s in them: 155 calories, 12 g. fat, 2 g. saturated fat, 1 g. fiber, 5 g. protein in 28 grams.
What to Cut Back On
While the next are by no means unhealthy, especially when eaten in moderation, they don’t offer as many health benefits as the others mentioned above.
High in saturated fat (5 g. per 1/4 c. serving), these are last on our healthy list.
They're packed with nutrients like zinc, magnesium and selenium, but the fat content is so high (218 g. per 1/4 c.) you should limit your portion to a few nuts at a time.
Chocolate Covered Varieties
Candy-coated of any kind should be a last resort.
The addition of chocolate and salt (which is often added by companies in the candying process) reduce the beneficial effects of the good fats and increase your levels of sodium.
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