Nuts are one of my favorite, favorite foods. Many people are turned off because of the caloric content, but they are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins and other beneficial minerals for your body. Their roasted, crunchy, delicious taste makes for a good snack or an addition to any baked good or entree.
Their high-caloric content comes from the monounsaturated fats in the nuts… the healthy fat! These help to lower LDL cholesterol, the ‘bad cholesterol’, and increase HDL cholesterol, the ‘good cholesterol’. I remember HDL as the good type by thinking the H in HDL equals healthy. Nuts are a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which by nature, are anti-inflammatories. This helps to lower the risk of high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and cancer.
Besides healthy fats, vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, fluoride and selenium are provided in nuts:
- Manganese helps keep bones strong and healthy, synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and promote optimal function of your thyroid gland.
- Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
- Copper is required for the production of red blood cells.
- Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
- Fluoride helps protects bones and those pearly whites
In general, nuts provide many health benefits, but each nut has its own unique characteristics and benefits. Go nuts on them!
One ounce, 28g-167 calories, 15g fat, 3g fiber, 6g protein
- Almonds have the most about of calcium of all the nuts, providing 9% of your RDI in one ounce.
- They also have the most amount of magnesium (27% RDI) of all the nuts and combined with their calcium and fiber contents, are a huge fighter against cancer.
- They also have one of the the highest fiber contents of the nuts.
- The BEST almonds (and I won’t buy any other types) are the ‘Dry Roasted Unsalted Almonds’ from Trader Joe’s
One ounce, 28g- 161 calories, 13g fat, 1g fiber, 4g protein
- The cashew tree is native to Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and it was the Portuguese explorers that spread it around the world.
- Cashew nuts have a lower fat content and a higher protein and carbohydrate content than other types of nuts.
- Cashews actually contain more iron per gram than lean steak! One ounce has 9% of RDA
One ounce, 28g- 190 calories, 19g fat, 2g fiber, 4g protein
- Brazil nuts come from the Brazil Nut tree which is in the forests of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. The tree is actually one of the tallest trees in the tropical forests!
- These are typically the biggest nuts and are one of the highest caloric nuts.
- They contain high levels of selenium. Just 100 grams of them provides 3485% of RDI. Selenium is an important factor for anti-oxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which is the most powerful antioxidant.
- The nuts are also very good source of vitamin E; just 100 grams provides about 52% of RDI. Vitamin E is required for cell membranes and your skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.
One ounce, 28g- 201 calories, 21g fat, 2g fiber, 2g protein
- This delicious nut (which I always associate with Hawaii) is actually native to Australia!
- Of all the different types of nuts, macadamias are the fattiest… but they are good fats 😉
- Macadamia nut oil is superior to cook with because of its lower level of polyunsaturated fat.
One ounce, 28g- 166 calories, 14g fat, 3g fiber, 5g protein
- Although it carries many nut-like features, the peanut is actually not a nut, but is a legume.
- Peanuts have a high concentration of a certain antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
- Resveratrol, another antioxidant, has been shown to reduce stroke risk, and also has a protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
One ounce, 28g- 199 calories, 21g fat, 3g fiber, 3g protein
- Pecans are a part of the hickory family, and are native to the southern and central parts of the United States
- Pecans are another nut high in vitamin E. Vitamin E is required for cell membranes and your skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.
- Pecans have a buttery consistency, but are sweet in taste… making them excellent additions to those dessert creations. Stay tuned for my chocolate pecan pie recipe!
One ounce, 28g-160 calories, 13g fat, 3g fiber, 6g protein
- These nuts are a great source of minerals like copper (19%) and iron (7% RDA)
- Copper is an essential mineral that is required in neuro-transmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell synthesis.
- I hate stressing calories, but as their commercial states, they really are the lowest calorie nut! But keep in mind that all nuts have healthy fats and calories that are very beneficial.
One ounce, 28g- 173 calories, 17g fat, 2g fiber, 7g protein
- Of all the different types of nuts, walnuts are unusual as they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids of both the omega-3 and omega-6 families, as well as monounsaturated fats, but no cholesterol.
- Walnuts are the main “non-fish” source of, which gets transformed into omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies. alpha-linolenic acid
- Walnuts are packed with antioxidants! These compounds interact with free radicals to stabilize them and prevent them from doing damage to cells. They have almost twice as many antioxidant polyphenols as almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans!