Many people are of the mindset that if a food tastes good, it’s bad for them. In some cases, that can be true. Take sugar. It’s highly addictive, most people enjoy it, and it has adverse effects on health.
Nuts are another story, one that may seem too good to be true. As I sat enjoying my macadamias one evening, I had to explain this to my husband, who thought he had caught me being “bad.”
“Aren’t they full of fat?” he asked. They are. But nuts contain healthy fat, making them good for you.
The healthiest and most common nuts are: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts/filberts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and Valencia peanuts. All are tree nuts, except for peanuts, which are a member of the legume (bean, pea, and lentil) family.
Nuts and peanuts are good sources of fat, fiber, and protein. The type of fat is primarily monounsaturated, along with omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. They do contain some saturated fat. Each offers a number of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E. Here is a breakdown of the specific health benefits of each to help you make the best choices:
Almonds: Can help balance cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, and promote weight loss.
Brazil nuts: May help balance cholesterol, fight inflammation, and help reduce oxidative stress, which may contribute to the development of many diseases and chronic conditions.
Cashews: May help reduce the risk of chronic disease by fighting free radicals.
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Hazelnuts: Can help reduce heart disease, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and boost vitamin E.
Macadamia nuts: Boost heart health, reduce inflammation, and balance cholesterol.
Valencia peanuts: Help prevent diabetes, lower heart disease risk factors. (Mold is a common concern with peanuts, as they are grown underground in moisture. Valencia peanuts are grown in drier climates, making them less prone to mold growth.)
Pecans: Reduce cholesterol levels, boost antioxidant levels.
Walnuts: Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid and may improve brain function and balance cholesterol and blood pressure.
Pistachios: Can help balance cholesterol and blood sugar, boost motor function, reduce oxidative stress, and enhance blood vessel function.
As you can see, there is something good about nuts.
Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com.