Nuts are nature's way of showing us that good things come in small packages. These bite-size nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Here's a look at the benefits of different types of nuts and tips for adding them to your diet.
They are also healthy additions to any diet. Nuts are filled with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts make a great snack in between meals because the fiber in them will help you feel full longer.
While nuts are about equal in calories per ounce, different nutrients are higher in some nuts than others. Find out more about the different nutrients in each type of nut.
Relatively low in calories, almonds are an excellent food for health due to their source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One serving of whole almonds (about 23 almonds) contains:
- 5.8 grams of protein
- 3.5 grams of fiber
- 13.8 grams of total fat
- 74.5 milligrams of magnesium
- 74.29 milligrams of calcium
Additionally, almonds' antioxidants can protect against chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Because they're so versatile, almonds are often a favorite among nut eaters: You can buy them raw, toasted, slivered, or coated with various fun flavors.
A one-ounce serving of dry roasted cashews contains:
- 4.34 grams of protein
- 0.9 grams of fiber
- 13.2 grams of fat
- 160 milligrams of potassium
- 139 milligrams of phosphorous
This serving size of cashews also contains about 70% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of copper. Copper plays a role in creating energy and maintaining the nervous and immune systems.
Pistachios contain nutrients, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Research found that eating pistachios may help brain function and gut and skin health. A one-ounce serving of pistachios contains:
- 5.73 grams of protein
- 3 grams of fiber
- 12.8 grams of fat
- 289 milligrams of potassium
While all nuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, walnuts have high amounts of heart-healthy alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Research has suggested that ALA benefits cardiovascular health, and walnuts are associated with lower heart disease and stroke rates.
A one-ounce serving of walnuts contains:
- 4 grams of protein
- 2 grams of fiber
- 17 grams of fat
- 129 milligrams of potassium
- 42.3 milligrams of magnesium
Eating half a cup of these tasty morsels daily can also lower the levels of "bad" cholesterol in your body.
Technically legumes but generally referred to as nuts, peanuts are high in folate—a mineral essential for making genetic material like DNA.
It also makes peanuts a great choice for vegetarians—who can come up short on folate—and people who are pregnant—who need folate to protect their unborn babies from birth defects.
Like most other nuts, peanuts are also full of brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E. One ounce of peanuts contains about:
- 7 grams protein
- 2.4 grams of fiber
- 14 grams fat
One ounce of Brazil nuts (about six nuts) contains about:
- 4 grams protein
- 2 grams of fiber
- 19 grams fat
Creamy Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against certain diseases. Just one ounce of Brazil nuts contains more than a day's worth of selenium, so eat these sparingly because too much selenium can cause:
- Skin rashes
- Brittle nails or hair
- Loss of nails or hair
- Discolored teeth
Pecans are a good fiber, copper, thiamine, and zinc source. Research shows that eating pecans can improve the ratio of good and bad cholesterol in your body.
One ounce of pecans (19 halves) contains:
- 196 calories
- 20 grams fat
- 3 grams protein
- 0.3 milligrams of copper
- 0.2 milligrams of thiamine
- 1.28 milligrams of zinc
Tips for Eating Nuts
Nuts are wonderful for your health. To get the most health benefits, it's also important to pay attention to how you eat them.
Pair Them With a Carb
Nuts don't have to be eaten just by themselves—you can also pair them with a carbohydrate to add a little more bulk to a snack or meal. When you pair a protein with a carbohydrate, this will help you feel full for a longer time.
Here are some nut-and-carb combos:
- Sprinkling nuts on oatmeal
- Adding nuts to low- or nonfat yogurt
- Spreading nut butter on slices of apple or pear
Buy Snack Packs
Many people unintentionally consume more calories when they have larger portions available to them. If you buy nuts in bulk or in big bags, this can make it difficult to scoop out a serving for a snack. A good snack should be one that balances enough calories for you to feel satisfied but not too many, as this can promote unintentional weight gain.
To help with portion control, you can buy snack packs of nuts that you can easily grab on-the-go or you can divide up nuts into smaller containers ahead of time. This makes it easy to know the portion you're eating and to have a snack ready.
Mix Them Together
Trail mix can provide various nuts, combining all the different nutrients. Trail mix is available in countless varieties that may include:
- Chocolate (like chocolate chips or M&M's)
- Dried fruits (like raisins, apricots, or cranberries)
Pairing tree nuts with dried fruits may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Try Unsalted or Lightly Salted Nuts
Salt can affect your health—consuming foods high in salt can increase your blood pressure. So, if you have high blood pressure, you may be monitoring your salt intake.
If you are trying to cut back on the salt in your diet, nuts are, of course, available unsalted. But to satisfy a salty craving without going overboard, you can look for in-between lightly salted varieties. Check ingredient labels, too—some brands contain less salt than others.
A Quick Review
Mixed nuts, ideally raw and unsalted, provide the best variety of nutrients and antioxidants. Each nut provides different nutritional benefits that can be added to your diet. Whether you add them to a salad or yogurt or eat them alone, there are many options to enjoy this nutritional treat.
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