More Evidence Adding Nuts Is a Healthy Choice

Nuts are among earth’s healthiest foods. They are loaded with fiber, nutrients and healthy fats. They help you live longer and taste absolutely delicious. No wonder, then, that millions of people are nuts about nuts! In America alone, 4 in 10 adults consume nuts every day. A nut lover myself, I feel happy each time I read a new study on their incredible benefits. Here are some healthy facts on nuts, including helpful tips on how best to enjoy them:

1. A one-ounce serving of nuts (about 24 pieces) contains between 160 and 200 calories. But don’t let the high calorie count put you off: most of those calories come from heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. A 2010 meta-study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an 8.3 percent reduction in risk of death from coronary heart disease for each weekly serving of nuts.

2. Raw or roasted? To get the most nutrients from nuts, choose  raw or dry roasted nuts, which contain slightly more iron and magnesium than toasted nuts. Besides, roasting may alter and damage the polyunsaturated fats that nuts contain.

3. Ideally, you should buy nuts that are unsalted and not fried in oil. Salted nuts contain up to 250 milligrams of sodium per one ounce serving. If you snack on oil roasted nuts, you’ll consume extra fat.  Oil-fried nuts are also more prone to oxidation, which leads to rancidity, giving them an “off” taste and a bad odor.

4. Tree nuts including almonds, walnuts, pistachio, macadamia nuts and cashew nuts are powerhouses of nutrition. Just a quarter cup serving of walnuts daily provides almost 100 percent of the total recommended omega-3 fatty acid intake and contains just 163 calories. Just a one-ounce serving has more omega-3s than a 4 oz piece of salmon. Walnuts also contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that are known to be helpful in reducing inflammation levels and warding off type 2 diabetes. Another interesting walnut fact: They’re a rich source of melatonin, which encourages a healthy sleep cycle.

5. Are you familiar with the “pistachio effect?” The term comes from an Eastern Illinois University study in which subjects were fed shelled and unshelled pistachios. Researchers found that those who were offered pistachios in shells ate an average of 125 calories worth of nuts, whereas those who were offered shelled nuts consumed an average of 211 calories. More importantly, participants on both sides rated their fullness and satisfaction the same, despite the difference in calories. The difference: the act of shelling. The study also demonstrates the power of mindful eating.

6. Cholesterol-free and energy-rich, cashew nuts are a worldwide favorite. Did you know this nut is a great way to thicken curries? The next time you marvel at the rich, delicate flavor of an Indian dish, chances are that the chef simply blended a handful of cashew nuts into the curry masala. Besides, this kidney-shaped nut is a great source of fiber, copper, magnesium and healthy fat. Just 1 oz of cashew nuts provides nearly a quarter of your daily phosphorus requirements!

7. Creamy and delicious, Brazil nuts should definitely form part of a man’s diet. They are high in selenium, a mineral that has been found to be effective in the fight against prostate cancer.  It is best to buy them unshelled.

8. Almonds contain the lowest calories and most calcium among all other nuts. According to the results of a new study, choosing almonds over carbs like white bread may reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing belly fat. This highly-prized nut is among the earliest cultivated foods on earth.

9. Native to Australia, macadamia nuts are named after John Macadam, who was the first to describe the genus. One of the most important macadamia nut health benefits is that being low in saturated fats and cholesterol, these nuts reduce the risks of heart diseases, stroke and anti-inflammatory diseases.

10. Peanuts are a great energy food. But did you know: Consuming peanuts also reduces the chances of stroke, as they increase your natural production of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. According to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an intake of 100 mg of magnesium per day, which can be consumed in just 2 ounces of peanuts, was associated with a 9 percent decrease of ischemic stroke.

11. Nuts are easy to pop into your mouth, which makes overeating a danger. To avoid mindless munching, pre-portion your nuts in small bags for a great snack to take on-the-go or to the office. Choose nuts in the shell and you’ll probably eat fewer since it takes time to crack them. Or take one handful and put the package away.