I think of nuts as little nuggets of energy, since ounce per ounce they are one of the most nutritionally dense foods around. Nuts are high in protein, but unlike meat, they are low in saturated fat. Also absent from nuts – cholesterol. Instead nuts contain phytosterols, which are considered heart healthy since they help to lower cholesterol.
We all know that variety is the spice of life, and this philosophy holds true for nuts. Not only do they vary in taste and shape, but they each have fairly unique nutritional properties too.
Here's a little lesson on nut nutrition:
- Almonds: An ancestor to stone fruits, the almond is high in vitamin E. Vitamin E is considered a powerful antioxidant that helps prevents cells from damaging oxidative stress that has been linked not only to heart disease, but to Alzheimer’s as well.
- Brazil Nuts: Just one of these large nuts exceeds the daily requirement intake (RDI) for the mineral selenium. The mineral selenium is also an antioxidant proven to reduce the risk of cancer.
To learn about three more nuts just
- Peanuts: Technically, the peanut is considered a legume and is related to peas and beans, but we tend to treat it like a nut. They are high in niacin and folate. These B vitamins are known to decrease the risk of certain cancers and protect against cognitive decline. Folate is extremely important for women before and during pregnancy.
- Pecans: This North American native is packed with antioxidants. They are considered to be on par with antioxidant superstars cherries and cranberries.
- Pistachios: This nut is extremely high in phytosterols that are know to fight cholesterol. These green nuggets also protect against breast and prostate cancer.
- Walnuts: Singular among nuts in their omega-3 fatty acid content, walnuts have gotten much press of late. Omega-3s help protect against coronary heart disease, depression, and menstrual cramps.
Fit's tip: Just want to remind you that while nuts are a great food, you want to eat them only a handful at a time due to their high fat content. Sprinkle chopped nuts over salads, oatmeal, or pastas.
For a caloric breakdown on nuts check out this nut breakdown.