Food & Diet

Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health

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We often hear how nuts are healthy and should be introduced into our daily diet. But not all nuts are the same or have the same effect to our health. Most of them are rich in good kinds of fats, proteins, and other important nutrients. But not all nuts have the same nutritional values and not all of them are equally good for you. Also, the quantities you eat are important. Namely, snacking on a handful of nuts if you want to keep your hunger at bay when in between meals – that can be considered healthy. On the other hand, eating a couple of handfuls, you will eat enough calories for an entire meal (or even more). Most nuts have high caloric values, so portion control is definitely important. According to Judy Caplan, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all nuts contain a mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber, the nutrients which help in appetite suppression. When eaten in moderation, nuts are a healthy addition to our diet.

While nuts are generally considered healthy on their own, when combined with sugars or other types of carbs, they can make you gain weight pretty quickly and make it hard for you to lose weight. So, here is a list of best and worst nuts for your health.

Best Nuts

Almonds, Cashews and Pistachios. These nuts are among the least caloric ones, packed with protein and healthy fats. One ounce of these nuts amounts to 160 calories. This means that for this caloric value you can eat 23 almonds, 17 cashews, or 49 pistachios. All of these nuts contain 5-6 grams of protein in the mentioned amount, and 13-14 grams of fat.

These nuts are rich in fiber and antioxidants, which means they can easily satisfy your hunger and prevent various health problems. We can say that they can help improve your overall health.

When you eat these nuts, choose the ones that are raw or dry roasted, but stay away from roasted nuts, because they are most commonly made in hydrogenated oils, which we know are unhealthy.

Walnuts. Maybe the healthiest nuts when it comes to maintaining heart health, walnuts contain omega-3 fats as well as a good amount of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) which, according to a Spanish study conducted in 2006, helps in controlling heart arrhythmias and can be compared with olive oil when it comes to protecting the body from inflammation and oxidation which normally happens after eating a meal full of fat. An ounce of walnuts (14 halves) contains around 185 calories and 18 grams of fat. The level of protein is also high, 4 grams per ounce. Eight walnuts a day can prevent hunger strikes and help you feel full for longer, while providing you the above mentioned health benefits.

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Peanuts. They are said to be good for the brain because they contain high levels of folate, which is a mineral that protects the brain against cognitive decrease and against birth defects in unborn babies. Peanuts contain vitamin E and healthy fats that improve cognitive functions. Caloric value of an ounce of peanuts (28 nuts) is around 170 calories. A surprising fact is that the amount of fat is as low as 14 grams per ounce (which is lower than in most nuts). The protein level is also high, amounting to approximately 7 grams per ounce. No wonder these nuts are among the most popular and eaten ones.

Brazil Nuts. These are known as good nuts for keeping men healthy, as they contain high levels of selenium which is believed to be a powerful aid in preventing prostate cancer. However, these nuts really need to be eaten in moderation, as only one nut contains more than a daily recommended dose of selenium, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, if eaten without control. One ounce, or 6 Brazil nuts contains around 4 grams of protein, which is a fairly good amount, 19 grams of fat and around 190 calories.

All-Natural Glazed Nuts. If you are looking for something sweet but you don’t want to eat junk food or take in a lot of calories, these nuts are the perfect choice. You can buy them glazed with honey and enriched with fruits such as oranges or berries and enjoy natural pleasures with as little sugar as possible. However, as with all nuts and treats, you need to be aware of portion control importance and not overindulge.

Worst Nuts

Macadamia Nuts and Pecans. These are the nuts that have a very high fat content, while the amount of protein is very low. They are also the nuts with the most calories among all other nuts. An ounce of them (10-12 macadamia nuts or 18-20 halves) contains around 200 calories and 20-21 gram of fat. However, even though they are proclaimed as one of the worst nuts because of their nutritive values, they are still good if you know how to control yourself and eat in moderation. The best way to eat these nuts is in the raw form, to make sure you are only eating the healthy fats contained in the nuts.

Sugar-Sweetened Nuts. There are many seemingly healthy nuts, coated with sugar or chocolate. There is no doubt that they are delicious, but healthy they are not. For example toffee or snickers are filled with nuts, but that doesn’t make them healthy. However, there are also regular nuts that are not a part of a candy that contain lots of sugar and additional fat. These are the proclaimed healthy nuts, but when you check the labels you can see the sugar contents, which usually make around 50% of the entire weight of ‘nuts’. Makes you wonder if you are actually eating sugar or a nut. A simple label check is enough to realize that these nuts are wrong for you (if you are paying attention and minding your nutrition), so be sure you read carefully.

Final Word

Basically, all the mentioned nuts in their natural form, raw or dry roasted are healthy and good for you when eaten in moderation. You can eat them with or without salt, it’s up to you. However, always read what is written on the label, and if you see that there is added sugar, don’t buy those nuts. Also, if you are looking for some sweet nuts, go for the natural variants, not the ones where sugar is added. Finally, even with all natural nuts, avoid those that have been heated in hydrogenated oil, because then they soak up a lot of bad and unhealthy fat, while losing many of their important nutrients in the process.

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