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Best types of nuts for your health
1. Almonds and Pistachios
All nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce, and in moderation, are all healthy additions to any diet. Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite, says Judy Caplan, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce are almonds (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). Avoid nuts packaged or roasted in oil instead, eat them raw or dry roasted, says Caplan. (Roasted nuts may have been heated in hydrogenated or omega-6 unhealthy fats, she adds, or to high temperatures that can destroy their nutrients.)
2. Macadamia Nuts and Pecans
Ounce for ounce, macadamia nuts (10 to 12 nuts 2 grams protein, 21 grams fat) and pecans (18 to 20 halves 3 grams protein, 20 grams fat) have the most calories?200 each?along with the lowest amounts of protein and the highest amounts of fats.
However, theyre still good nuts: The difference between these and the lowest calorie nuts is only 40 calories an ounce. As long as youre practicing proper portion control and not downing handfuls at a time, says Caplan, any kind of raw, plain nut will give you a good dose of healthy fats and nutrients
While all nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, walnuts (14 halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein) have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Research has suggested that ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal. The authors of this study, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, recommended eating around eight walnuts a day to achieve similar benefits.
Technically legumes but generally referred to as nuts, peanuts are high in folatena mineral essential for brain development that may protect against cognitive decline. (It also makes peanuts a great choice for vegetarians, who can come up short on folate, and pregnant women, who need folate to protect their unborn babies from birth defects, says Caplan.) Like most other nuts, peanuts are also full of brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E, as well. One ounce of peanuts (about 28 unshelled nuts) contains about 170 calories, 7 grams protein, and 14 grams fat.
5. Brazil Nuts
Creamy Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. Just one nut contains more than a days worth, so eat these sparingly: Recent research has hinted that too much selenium may be linked to type 2 diabetes risk. One ounce of Brazil nuts (6 nuts) contains about 190 calories, 19 grams fat, and 4 grams protein.
Pecans are also good for mens health: Theyre loaded with beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate. One ounce of pecans (18 to 20 halves) contains about 200 calories, 21 grams fat, and 3 grams protein.
Relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health. Plus, they are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight dangerous inflammation and possibly health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.
Because theyre so versatile, almonds are often a favorite among nut eaters: You can buy them raw, toasted, slivered, or coated with a variety of fun flavors, from Wasabi & Soy Sauce to Lime n Chili.
7. Natural glazed nuts
Want something sweet and satisfying but without the extra calories and high-fructose corn syrup? Look no further than Sahale Snacks glazed nuts, in flavors like Almonds with Cranberries, Honey, and Sea Salt (160 calories, 11 grams fat, 5 grams protein per ounce) or Cashews with Pomegranate and Vanilla (150 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams protein per ounce). Theyre sweetened with organic cane juice and tapioca syrup, and each contains only 6 grams of sugar per ounce. Just be careful not to eat the whole bag.
8. Raw nuts or seeds and dried fruit
Trail mix is available in countless varieties and from countless brands. Look for trail mix with raw nuts, suggests Caplan. Or if the nuts are roasted, look for the words dry roasted rather than oil roasted.
Nuts pair great with fruit, seeds, and perhaps even a little dark chocolate, Caplan adds just pay attention to the calorie count and serving size. We love Eden Foods All Mixed Up blend (160 calories, 12 grams fat, 8 grams protein per ounce) of organic almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried tart cherries. If youre more of a granola guy or gal, treat yourself to a quarter cup of Bear Nakeds Banana Nut mix (140 calories, 7 grams fat, 3 grams protein) with almonds and walnuts
9. Pair them with a healthy carb
Now you know all about which nuts are good for what and but to get the most health benefits, its also important to pay attention to how you eat them. Nuts are a great thing to eat when youre having a carbohydrate like fruit or juice, because it helps slow down digestion and the breakdown of sugar, says Caplan.
A few winning nut-and-carb combos: Sprinkle them on salads, add them to low- or nonfat yogurt, or spread nut butter on slices of apple or pear. On the go? Pick up a 150-calorie pack of Earthbound Farms Dippin Doubles Apples & Peanut Butter (11 grams fat, 5 grams protein).
10. A mixed bag of nuts
So which is the healthiest nut overall? A 2004 review in the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide tackled this tough question. Luckily, they concluded, we dont have to pick just one. Mixed nuts, ideally raw and unsalted, provide the best variety of nutrients and antioxidants.
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