It seems like we are constantly being bombarded lately on how good nuts are for us… the news, health articles, doctors, nutritionists. Times have changed since we were scared away from nuts during the low-fat craze of the last few decades, but now nuts are making a comeback! So what are the healthiest nuts?
Nuts are excellent sources of protein, minerals, “good” fats and other nutrients, fiber, and they’re good for the heart. But be careful, it only takes a small handful of nuts to to do the job and it is easy to get carried away! One ounce of nuts averages 180 calories and 17 grams of fat.
But what kind of nuts are the best… not all nuts are created equally!
The Healthiest Nuts:
Walnuts The walnut is the king. It’s a great source of the healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, which has been found to protect the heart, promote better cognitive function, provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis, and fight cancer and support the immune system with it’s antioxidant compound ellagic acid. 1 ounce = 14 halves
Almonds Almonds have the highest amount of calcium and just a quarter cup of almonds contains nearly 25 percent of your needed daily value of magnesium, plus 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 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. 1 ounce = 24 nuts
Cashews Cashews 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. Plus, cashews are rich in copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and biotin. 1 ounce = 14 nuts
Pecans Pecans are an excellent 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 also have high vitamin E content and regular consumption may help decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. 1 ounce = 20 halves
Brazil Nuts These nuts 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. A study at the University of Illinois even found that the high amounts of selenium in Brazil nuts may help prevent breast cancer. 1 ounce = 6-8 nuts
Pistachios The pistachio nut is a member of the cashew family contains over 10% of the daily requirements of magnesium, copper, phosphorous, and B vitamins, which strengthen your immune system, and provides more fiber than a half cup of spinach and the same amount as an orange or apple. 1 ounce = 45 nuts
What about peanuts you ask? Peanuts are susceptible to a fungus that generates poisons called aflatoxins. Aflatoxins can cause liver damage, so many people avoid peanuts and peanut products unless they know the source keeps the peanuts fresh and free from fungi. As well, peanuts have the most documented cases of allergies of all other nuts. Also beware most commercial peanut butters are high in fat, sodium and sugar, and contain hydrogenated oil to keep it fresh. To retain the health benefits of peanut butter, try a brand that uses non-hydrogenated oil, or try a natural or “old fashioned” style, made from peanuts only.