Nuts are healthy and have found their way into every type of food, from candy bars to coatings for cooked meat.
Eating nuts are one of the 13 habits attributed to living a long life.
All nuts provide us with numerous health benefits.
We can feel good about enjoying them as a treat when we know we’re doing something good for our health by consuming them. Some nuts pack a bigger boost to health than others.
Nuts are healthy because they contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fat content.
Check out this list of the top nuts for health and choose from them when you’re in the mood for a crunchy snack.
Types of Nuts and Their Benefits
Almonds are rich in fiber, protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, and healthy fat.
A small handful is the recommended serving size and that many almonds will contain 160 calories.
Almonds lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and reduce the spike in blood sugar after a meal.
They also promote the growth of healthy bacteria within the gut to keep the digestive system healthy.
Almonds are loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, slow down the aging process and help protect against cancer.
Almonds are the best source of vitamin E and one small handful provides almost half of the daily recommended amount of the beneficial vitamin.
Vitamin E promotes healthy cell and tissue growth, reduces wrinkles, lessens the risk for heart disease, and helps reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
A rich source of selenium, a needed mineral to keep the thyroid healthy and a host of other health-benefiting tasks.
Selenium is needed for healthy cell growth and a strong immune system.
A small handful of Brazil nuts contain almost 1,000 times the recommended daily allowance of selenium. Just one Brazil nut provides more selenium than the body requires for one day.
Selenium, combined with the ellagic acid in Brazil nuts, promote healthy brain function.
Both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect cognitive function and both have an antidepressant effect on the brain that can improve mood.
These nuts also contain protein, fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc, thiamine and vitamin E.
Brazil nuts reduce oxidative stress, improve the function of blood vessels, reduce cholesterol, and reduce inflammation in the body.
These nuts are rich in heart-healthy fatty acids that lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.
A small handful of cashews contain 160 calories, vitamins E, K, & B6, calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, and protein.
Cashews are also high in copper which supports a strong immune system, heart health, stronger bones and a decreased risk of degenerative brain disorders, like Alzheimer’s.
Rich in antioxidants and protein, cashews make a great alternative protein source for people who don’t consume meat.
These nuts are as good for eye health, just like carrots.
They are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin that protect eyes from age-related disorders, including cataracts.
Cashews are high in fat, but it’s the good fat that helps reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
It’s also the type that keeps you feeling fuller longer, which helps promote weight loss.
Hazelnuts are packed with health-benefiting nutrients and fats.
A small handful contains 175 calories plus protein, carbs, fiber, thiamine, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, folate, and vitamin E & B6.
These small nuts are also a rich source of antioxidants, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
The antioxidants in hazelnuts work hard to lower cholesterol, reduce oxidative stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, and cancer.
Most of the antioxidants in hazelnuts are found in the skin and most of the nut’s health benefits will be derived by eating them raw and in the skin.
The high-fat content of these nuts reduces inflammation throughout the body to reduce the symptoms and/or the risk of developing arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases caused by inflammation.
The creamy texture and buttery flavor of these nuts make them seem more like an indulgent pleasure instead of healthy food.
A small handful does contain 200 calories, so they do have to be eaten in moderation, but they offer so many health benefits the good far outweighs the bad.
The high content of monounsaturated fat makes Macadamia nuts especially beneficial to heart health.
When consumed daily, these nuts will lower overall cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol. They also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress to promote heart health.
These healthy fats also protect against metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The protein and fiber in macadamia nuts offset the high-calorie content and aid in weight loss.
These nuts keep you feeling fuller longer so you will eat less, plus the monounsaturated fats help protect against weight gain.
The fiber content helps promote weight loss and a healthy digestive system.
Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis symptoms can be alleviated with increased good bacteria in the gut.
Macadamia nuts can help raise the level of good bacteria while lowering inflammation in the digestive tract to prevent or treat these digestive issues.
Macadamia nuts are loaded with antioxidants to combat free radicals to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
The ever-popular, versatile peanut is one of the top nuts for health.
They are a legume that grows underground and goes by several different names, including groundnut and goobers.
These nuts are very high in fat, containing 600 calories per cup, but they are a good source of protein and several vitamins and minerals.
Many people are allergic to peanuts and their fat content makes them poor choice for daily snacking, but they do offer health benefits when consumed in moderation.
The low glycemic index and low carb content of these nuts make them a good nut choice for diabetics.
They are rich in copper and niacin to promote heart health.
The thiamine content improves the function of the heart, nervous system and muscles, and the magnesium helps prevent heart disease.
The peanut skin is a powerful source of a multitude of antioxidants which include; resveratrol, isoflavones, phytic acid, and phytosterols, which work together to promote heart health, protect against cancer, help the body eliminate cholesterol from food sources, and improve digestion.
This green nut that is fun to crack and eat is full of healthy nutrients.
A small handful of these green nuts contain 160 calories plus fiber, protein, potassium, phosphorus, thiamin, copper, manganese, and B6.
Pistachios are the best food source of vitamin B6, which regulates blood sugar and promotes the formation of molecules that carry oxygen to red blood cells.
A powerful antioxidant that promotes eye health reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, plus the antioxidants in pistachios are more readily absorbed into the body than other forms of antioxidants.
The high fiber content also improves digestive health and may help you to lose weight.
These healthy nuts lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, plus they help keep the lining of the blood vessel pliable and healthy.
Pistachios have a low glycemic index so they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar when consumed and may even promote a reduction in blood sugar levels consumed regularly.
The ever-popular pecan tastes good in pies, but that’s not the best way to eat them. Raw, right out of the shell, pecans are rich in monounsaturated fats, which help reduce the risk of heart disease.
A small handful contains 200 calories, but they keep you feeling fuller longer and increase metabolism to promote weight loss.
Pecans are also rich in fiber to promote a healthy digestive system, reduce the risk of colon cancer and reduce bad cholesterol.
The magnesium in pecans is a powerful anti-inflammatory that reduces inflammation throughout the body.
The risk of developing arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer is reduced when inflammation is reduced.
The vitamin E found in these nuts promotes the growth of healthy skin and protects against fine lines and wrinkles.
Pecans are packed with fiber and promote the elimination of toxins and waste from the body, which helps to prevent acne, skin irritations, and improve the overall appearance of skin.
Pecans also contain vitamin A and zinc which help protect against skin infections.
The amino acids in pecans increase blood flow through the body, especially to hair roots, to help promote healthy hair and scalp.
Help prevent age-related wrinkles and hair loss by enjoying a few pecans every day.
A popular nut that is found in abundance around the Holiday season but is healthy to consume year-round.
A small handful of walnuts contains 180 calories, plus they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Protein, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E can also be found in this popular nut.
Eating walnuts improves heart health by reducing bad cholesterol, increasing good cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation.
These nuts improve overall health by reducing inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is said to be the root of all chronic health diseases, including cancer, and by reducing inflammation you reduce the risk of developing all types of health problems.
The shells and meat of walnuts look much like a tiny skull with a brain inside and the appearance of the nut may help you to remember that walnuts are good for brain health.
The polyunsaturated fat, polyphenols and vitamin E, help reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain.
Brain function, learning skills, improved memory and a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s are attributed to consuming walnuts regularly.
How To Buy For Best Health Benefits
All nuts are loaded with protein, fiber and a host of other good-for-you nutrients, but the way they are treated after harvesting may have an impact on their health benefits.
Nuts can be purchased raw, roasted or boiled, in the shell, shelled, in the skin or made into nut butter.
Some nuts have to be roasted to remove them from their shells, like cashews.
Others are roasted or boiled to enhance flavor and texture.
Peanuts are often boiled in the southern part of the United States where many of them are grown.
The boiling process softens the nuts, but it also removes some of the nutritional value since the skin is shed during the boiling process.
The roasting process is done to remove nuts from the shells and to dry up moisture content for enhanced flavor.
There are two methods of roasting nuts; dry or oil roasting.
Dry roasting is done in an oven or a frying pan without the use of oil. Oil roasting is done the same way but with the use of oil.
Either method of roasting changes the texture of the nuts and slightly diminishes their nutrient value and health benefits if high heat is used in the roasting process.
To control the roasting temperature and derive the most health benefits, buy raw nuts and roast them yourself with low-temperature, slow heat.
Most nuts can be used to make nut butter, like peanut butter.
The calorie content is increased in nut butter because they typically have added sugar.
Nut butter is also more easily absorbed by the body than raw nuts.
Shop for organic, and no sugar added nut butter for best nutritional value.
As with vegetables and fruits, nuts are best when consumed raw and whole.
You will get all the goodness the nut has to offer when skin and nut are consumed in their natural state.