Nuts are one of nature’s “perfect” foods. They are full of nutrition, satisfying and portable. Grabbing a small handful of nuts requires little effort on your part and their nutrients will keep you going strong. Many people were scared away from nuts during the low-fat craze of the last few decades, but now nuts are making a comeback. Nuts are excellent sources of protein, minerals, “good” monounsaturated fats and other nutrients, and they’re good for the heart.
A recent study testing 31,000 participants, conducted by Loma Linda University in California, found that eating nuts lowered the risk of heart disease and helped participants keep their weight down. Other large-scale studies, including the Physician’s Health Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study and the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, also found that eating nuts lowered heart disease risk.
In fact the FDA approved the following health claim for nut package labels:“Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of some nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
When it comes to nuts, the walnut is one of the best. It’s a great source of the healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been found to protect the heart, promote better cognitive function, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.
Walnuts also contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid which is known to fight cancer and support the immune system.
Cashews are rich in copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and biotin. Plus, they are lower in fat than most nuts, and 65 percent of this fat is unsaturated fatty acids. Of this, 90 percent is oleic acid, the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.
A quarter cup of almonds contains nearly 25 percent of your needed daily value of the important nutrient magnesium, plus it is rich in potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. In fact, a quarter cup of almonds has almost as much calcium as a quarter cup of milk.
Almonds are also one of the best nuts for lowering cholesterol because 70 percent of the fat they contain is the healthy monounsaturated variety, which has been shown to help clear arteries.
Pecans are a great source of over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, several B vitamins and zinc. Pecans have also been found to help lower blood cholesterol when combined with a healthy diet.
- Brazil Nuts These nuts aren’t as well known as some of the others, but they are extremely nutrient-rich and contain protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that works to neutralize dangerous free radicals.
The important thing to remember when it comes to nuts is a little goes a long way. Eating too much of a good thing isn’t good for you health. So be sure to grab a small handful at a time and enjoy this delicious, nutritious snack.