The word is out. Nuts are good for you. A growing body of research supports their role in weight control, heart health and decreasing death from all causes. In addition, most nuts are good sources of fiber, potassium, zinc and iron. So what is the best nut? That depends on your personal preference as well as any health concerns you have. Here are some nutrient highlights to help you choose.
- Weight loss or maintenance. Almonds might be a good choice for you. The combination of protein, fiber and fat is the trifecta of satiety. Add almonds to your breakfast cereal or yogurt, or sprinkle some on your salad later in the day.
- Weight gain. Looking for a healthy way to gain weight? Pecans and macadamia nuts have the most calories in an ounce (that's a handful). Most of these calories come from the abundance of healthy, monounsaturated fats.
- Fuel for athletes. Cashews have more carbohydrates and iron than other nuts. They are good sources of protein and zinc — key nutrients for cell growth and repair. Throw them in your gym bag for a quick snack.
- Blood pressure control. Sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium are major players in blood pressure control. Pistachios and brazil nuts have higher amounts of these heart healthy nutrients. Make a fruit and nut salad.
- Pregnancy. A small handful of nuts when you're not feeling well or feel full too soon is a great source of calories and key nutrients for a growing baby. Among nuts, hazelnuts have the most folate. They also have iron and zinc.
- Healthy aging. Ongoing research on omega-3 fatty acids and their role in brain and heart health should help keep nuts on your radar. Nuts, especially walnuts, are high in polyunsaturated fats. Walnuts, like most nuts, are versatile and can be added to cereal, ground into a butter, or used as a crust or topping on meat, fish, pilafs and vegetables.
The nutrients you get from a small amount of nuts is impressive. Perhaps even more convincing is how easy it is to add these nutrient powerhouses to your diet. It doesn't get much easier than packing a bag in your purse, briefcase or backpack. Just keep an eye on portion size.
How do you enjoy nuts? Have you added nuts to your diet and seen any changes?
To your health,
Feb. 20, 2014
- Bao Y, et al. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:2001.