Nuts are a great snack. They are full of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Nuts also help you stay full and give you energy to get through a long meeting or a difficult workout. They are a great source of nutrients that are difficult to find in other foods. However, nuts are also very calorie dense. If you snack on nuts too much, you will find yourself gaining weight. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat nuts, though. As long as you limit your portions, nuts are a wonderful snack to enjoy.
Not all nuts are created equal. Some nuts are better than others because they have a better nutrition profile and are lower in calories. It can be difficult to know which nuts you should be eating. If you want to include nuts in your diet, here are seven nuts to eat and three to avoid.
Nuts to Eat
Walnuts are extremely healthy. They are a great source of the omega-3 fat ALA and they also help lower bad cholesterol levels, greatly reducing your chance of having a heart attack. Walnuts help reduce inflammation since they are a great source of antioxidants as well. In fact, walnuts have the most antioxidants out of any nut you can eat!
Pecans are also full of antioxidants. Regular consumption of pecans will greatly increase the number of antioxidants in your blood, which is important for fighting the damage caused by free radicals. Pecans also increase your heart health by lowering cholesterol. Pecans are especially helpful for men because they improve prostate health.
Pistachios are a great source of potassium, so you can ditch the banana and eat a serving of pistachios instead. They also help regulate your blood sugar, which means they reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Pistachios are lower in calories than other nuts, so you can eat a lot of them, which makes them a great snack for weight loss.
4. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are grown in Brazil and help save the rainforest! They grow on large trees that can only grow in the wild, so you are helping keep parts of the rainforest alive when you purchase Brazil nuts. Health wise, Brazil nuts are a great source of protein and fat and are lower in carbs than other nuts. They are also a great source of selenium, an important antioxidant.
Hazelnuts are a great source of fiber, which helps regulate your blood sugar levels, keeping you from developing type 2 diabetes. Hazelnuts are also a good source of Vitamins A and B. They also help you heart by raising your good cholesterol and lowering your bad cholesterol. Hazelnuts are also great for the environment since they can grow in just about any soil and require little water.
Almonds are one of the most popular nuts around. They help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut and reduce inflammation in those with type 2 diabetes. Almonds can also lower your blood pressure and blood sugar. Almonds are also a good choice if you are trying to lose weight. They are very filling and low in carbs.
Cashews are a great source of protein and antioxidants. They have a higher carb count than other nuts, so if you are watching your carbs, make sure you carefully measure your servings. Cashews can help lower your blood pressure and increase your good cholesterol levels. Cashews are also a good source of magnesium.
Nut to Avoid
1. Macadamia Nuts
These nuts are tasty and do have some health benefits, but their calorie and fat count is very high. You can only eat a few macadamia nuts if you want to lose weight. So, make sure you are very careful about portions if you want to eat these nuts.
Despite the name, peanuts are not actually nuts. They are a legume! While peanuts do have protein and other nutritional value, they can also be exposed to aflatoxins. This is a fungus that is associated with liver cancer. Peanuts can also cause severe allergic reactions in people as well, so you must be careful when eating these in public. If you do want to eat peanuts, always choose fresh, raw peanuts.
3. Pine Nuts
While pine nuts do have some nutritional value, they can also cause a condition called pine nut syndrome. This syndrome leaves a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth and can last for months! There is no known cause for this syndrome, so it’s safest to just skip these nuts.
Whenever you shop for nuts, always look for raw, unsalted nuts. Anything that has been roasted or has added salt will not be as good for you. Remember that any type of processing will lower a food’s nutritional value. If you are used to eating salted nuts, it may take a little time to adjust to the new non-salted version, but they are just as delicious! It will also lower your sodium intake, which is helpful for heart health and weight loss. So, the next time you are looking for a snack, reach for some of the healthy nuts listed above. You’ll feel full and help your body as well!