The world is full of all kinds of nuts, just look at my relatives if you don’t believe me. The kinds of nuts we’re discussing here, however, are the ones that grow on trees and are always welcome at my house.
Nuts are packed with protein and other nutrients as well as heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Some nuts also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to fight inflammation and lower triglyceride levels.
All nuts seem to offer some positive health benefits, but some are better than others for various reasons, which we’ll examine below.
5 Healthy Nuts
Walnuts are a nutrition powerhouse. They’re packed with omega-3 as well as omega-6 fatty acids and also have very high amounts of antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, copper, manganese, and vitamin E.
The skin of the walnut is waxy and tastes bitter, so you might be tempted to remove it, but experts warn against this. It’s thought that the majority of the walnut’s antioxidants, such as melatonin and catechin are in its skin.
The health benefits of walnuts include warding off certain types of cancer, improving brain function, and lowering LDL cholesterol.
Walnuts are versatile and can be eaten as a snack, added to salads, incorporated into delicious pesto, and even added to baked goods.
Just one ounce of nut meat, which is about 6 or 7 shelled walnuts, is enough to begin reaping the benefits this wonderful nut has to offer.
Like the walnut, almonds are tree nuts that pack a real nutritional punch. They contain plenty of monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber, and good amounts of magnesium and manganese.
Free radicals are naturally occurring in your body and important for your immune system, but too many can lead to damaged cells. Luckily for us nut lovers, almonds are a great source of antioxidants and can help protect against oxidative stress by fighting free radicals.
Almonds also play a role in the control of blood sugar because they are naturally low in carbs and contain high amounts of protein, healthy fat, and fiber.
More advantages include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
These tiny beauties work well as a snack, or slivered and tossed in a salad or stir fry. They can even work in many desserts, and an ounce at a time is all it takes.
Pistachios contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals and are also packed with plenty of protein and fiber, all in a tiny and convenient package.
In one ounce serving, pistachios offer healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while supplying only 1.5 ounces of saturated fat. Unsaturated fats help lower cholesterol and also reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes.
Once again, the good levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in pistachios work to lower your blood pressure and also guard against an abnormal heart beat. Pistachios are also a great source of minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Remember that just a small handful of pistachios is enough to get the benefits of all the goodness. They are a great snack all on their own and work well tossed into oatmeal or yogurt in the morning or sprinkled on your salad at lunchtime.
Pecans are rich in unsaturated fats, which have been shown to promote heart health, as well as plenty of fiber and protein.
They are the only tree nut native to the North American continent and have been around since the late 1600s. A rich source of vitamins A, B, and E, pecans also contain phosphorus, zinc, potassium and calcium.
Pecans are also loaded with antioxidants; in fact, research has shown that pecans are the most anti-oxidant rich among all tree nuts, and they rank highly among the foods with highest antioxidants.
Pecans work well everywhere, not just in pecan pie. Toss them in salads or soups. Stuff them in your Thanksgiving day dishes. Grab a handful for a delicious and nutritious snack. They’re even at home in your breakfast smoothie!
5. Pumpkin Seeds
While technically not a nut, it wouldn’t be right to leave such a healthy and nutritious item like the powerful pumpkin seed off the list of healthiest nuts.
These seeds are packed with high amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as plenty of fiber and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain a good amount of omega-6.
Pumpkin seeds contain a very high amount of magnesium, a macro-mineral which is deficient in the diet of lots of Western countries. Magnesium is beneficial for keeping blood pressure in check and reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
Pumpkin seeds also contain a good amount of tryptophan, which can be good for sleeping troubles, and zinc, which helps your immune system defend against bacteria and some types of viruses.
Pumpkin seeds may not get much respect, but they are delicious and so easy to add to your diet. They are a perfect on-the-go snack, but can also be sprinkled in soups and salads for a healthy and satisfying crunch.
Nuts have been a part of the diet for hundreds and thousands of years. They are delicious, nutritious, portable, and require no refrigeration, thereby making them the perfect snack in our busy lives. In addition, nuts work well in main dishes and side dishes. Also, they can be added to desserts.
Remember that all nuts are high in calories and if weight loss is your goal, limit yourself to a small handful a day, and be sure you or those around you are not allergic. All it takes is one ounce of nuts to begin reaping the benefits these nutrition powerhouses have to offer.
It’s easy to see why we all should be nuts over nuts!