Which are the Healthiest Nuts ?

There is no doubt that nuts are among the healthiest foods you can eat. Their combination of protein and nutrients combined with relatively low fat make them a perfect snack or ingredient.

According to Judy Caplan, RD, at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce and are healthy additions to any diet. She points to the omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber which will help to suppress your diet.

Almonds are the lowest calorie nuts with about 160 calories per ounce (23 nuts; 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat); cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat); and pistachios (49 nuts; 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat).

Of course this assumes the nuts are dry roasted with no added oil or salt.

As we have detailed in previous posts, almonds have more calcium than other nuts, are rich in fiber, vitamin E and contain other nutrients that your body needs.

Healthy nuts

What makes nuts so healthy?

According to the Mayo Clinic it’s thought the unsaturated fat or so called “good fat” lower cholesterol levels. The Omega-3 fatty acids seem to help your heart by preventing irregular heart rhythms that can lead to a heart attack.

The fiber in nuts lowers your cholesterol and makes you feel full so you eat less and may also play a role in preventing diabetes. Nuts also contain Vitamin E which can retard the formation of plaques in your arteries which leads to coronary artery disease or heart attacks.

Finally nuts contain plant sterols and a substance called L-argentine. Fiber aids in lowering cholesterol and L-argentine improves the health of artery walls by helping them retain flexibility.

While almost all nuts contain these compounds there are some differences.

For example, macadamia nuts have the highest fat and lowest protein and carbohydrate content, but they also contain large amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese. About 60% of the fatty acid in macadamia nuts is Oleic acid, about the same level as olives, which are known for their health benefits.

Pecans, which contain 19 vitamins and minerals, are close to macadamia nuts in the fat and protein scale but they also contain phenolic antioxidants

A one-quarter-cup serving of walnuts can provide 100% of the omega-3 fats the average person needs, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. The antioxidants in walnuts are so powerful that researchers have called them “remarkable,” and the polyphenols may help prevent liver damage.

The outermost layer of the shelled walnuts has a bitter flavor but it’s thought that up to 90 percent of the antioxidants are found in the skin.The skin of an almond is also one of the healthiest parts of the nut since it’s rich in antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that a one-ounce serving of almonds has a similar amount of total polyphenols as a cup of steamed broccoli or green tea.

Additionally, research has shown that almonds may help prevent both prostate and breast cancer.

Almonds are also notably beneficial for your heart health. A study in the journal Circulation found people with abnormally high level of lipids, such as cholesterol, in their blood were able to significantly reduce their risk factors for coronary heart disease by snacking on whole almonds. Almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can help you burn more fat and carbohydrates during workouts, a study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found.

Brazil nuts are noted as an excellent source of selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant which may be beneficial in the prevention of cancer. Just two of the tiny nuts provide more than a day’s worth of the mineral. Selenium not only plays a key role in metabolism, immunity and reproductive health, but also helps the body absorb vitamin E, which can ward off cataracts later in life. Brazil nuts rank just behind macadamia nuts and pecans in their fat to protein content.

Pistachios are high in lutein, beta-carotene and vitamin E when compared to other nuts. Eating one or two servings of pistachios a day can increase anti-oxidants in the blood which lowers LDL cholesterol. Theses nuts can also reduce blood pressure and vascular responses to stress. Like most nuts they are excellent for weight loss.

American Export House supplies organic and conventional almond varieties to customers throughout the United States and the World. For more information contact AEH.

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