Nuts are nature’s gift for a healthy diet. Packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats and vitamins and minerals, they make a tasty and filling snack on the go. Almonds, cashews, walnuts and a host of other nuts are known to help with lowering cholesterol, improve heart health, help you manage weight and fight cancer.
Let’s take a quick look at the magic health properties of nuts and their benefits
Comparatively low calorie when compared to other nuts, almonds are rich in calcium, fiber (3 grams per ounce), and antioxidant vitamin E which helps fight cholesterol, inflammation and some types of cancer, as well as age-related cognitive issues. They also help maintain gut health. Of all nuts, almonds are my favorites because they are tasty, filling and are pretty much all-rounders. They also help with weight loss. For diabetics, almonds are an absolute yes-yes as they reduce insulin resistance and bad LDL cholesterol.
For those who must avoid dairy, almonds are the ideal choice. Almonds are also great for skin and hair health which is why you’ll see most beauty products highlighting is as an ingredient.
Info: 23 almonds = 170 calories and 15 grams fat.
Great for heart health, walnuts are rich in alpha linoleic acid (ALA). They help reduce inflammation and oxidation in the arteries especially after eating a rich meal. Walnuts are highest in antioxidants and this protects the body from cell damage, preventing heart disease, cancer, and premature aging. Their manganese content is also known to reduce PMS symptoms. Walnuts are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, that fight inflammation, which is an advantage for vegetarians.
Info: 14 walnut halves = 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein
Considered great for brain health, peanuts are actually legumes. They are high in folate, healthy fats and vitamin E, essential for brain health. Again, like walnuts, peanuts are a great source of folate for vegetarians and especially pregnant women. Full of healthy fats and vitamin E, an ounce of peanuts
Info: One ounce of peanuts or 28 unshelled nuts = 170 calories, 7 grams protein, 14 grams fat.
Tasty cashews are rich in iron and zinc. Iron prevents anemia by transporting oxygen to cells while zinc protects the immune system and eye health. Cashews also contain magnesium, which helps to improve memory and age-related memory loss. They are also a good source of protein.
Info: 18 nuts = 165 calories, 13 grams fat
Pecans promote heart health with their rich antioxidant content and plant sterols. They prevent the formation of plaque in the arteries, lower LDL or bad cholesterol and boost brain health. The Vitamin E arrests the progress of neurological diseases like ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They are a good source of oleic acid, also found in avocado and olives. Pecans also contain vitamin B3, which helps fight fatigue.
Info: 18 halves = 200 calories, 21 grams fat
One Brazil nut is said to give you your daily value of the mineral selenium that fights various cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. For those with low thyroid function Brazil nuts provide the selenium required to activate the production of the thyroid hormone. However, it is important to be cautious consuming these nuts as high selenium levels can be harmful.
Info: 5 to 6 nuts = 185 cals, 18 grams fat
Macadamia nuts are heart healthy with high monosaturated fat content per serving, a good fat that helps lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. It also lowers triglycerides and total cholesterol. Macadamia nuts are also fiber rich, in addition to magnesium, calcium and potassium. Since they are also high in calories, watch your portions.
Info: 10 nuts = 200 cals, 22 grams fat
Pistachios help in balancing hormones with their vitamin B6, which is also a mood-booster and strengthens the immune system. They are beneficial for those with problem periods. Pistachios are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants, important to maintain eye health. They also contain potassium for nervous system health and strong muscles. They contain the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a vitamin E that fights cancer.
Info: 50 nuts = 160 cals, 14 grams fat
Another all-rounder with high MUFA , hazelnuts improve cardiovascular health and help in type 2 diabetes management. Their antioxidant vitamin E prevents cataracts and macular degeneration, besides maintaining skin health and minimizing the risk of dementia. Hazelnuts are a good source of folate, which balances the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine related to heart problems and Parkinsons disease.
Info: 21 nuts = 180 cals, 17 grams fat
Low fat and low calorie chestnuts are rich in fiber, starchy carbs and vitamin C. Their protein content is lower than that of other nuts but they contain vitamin B6. Chestnut flour is gluten-free.
Nuts are high in fat but the good news is, it is all heart-healthy. However, if you have weight loss goals, you want to maintain portion control as nuts vary in their saturated fat content and calories.
- Red (high saturated fat content): brazil nuts, macadamias and cashews
- Amber (medium saturated fat content): walnuts, pecans and pistachios
Green (low saturated fat content): almonds, hazelnuts and chestnuts
A general guideline to follow is to go for the amber and green categories and minimize the red. Also, always go in for raw or dry roasted nuts.
Next time those hunger pangs strike…