Enjoying a wide variety of nuts has multiple health benefits. The crunchy, delicious snacks are a great source of protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Nuts are naturally cholesterol-free and pack disease-fighting antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin E and magnesium.
A 2019 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that adults, both those middle-aged and over 55, who regularly ate tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.) showed reduced inflammation that leads to chronic disease.
Other studies have shown that eating healthy amounts of nuts several times a week can reduce risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as help combat hypertension, cognitive decline, joint pain and more.
Because nuts are a high-calorie snack, it’s important to limit your portion size and choose unsalted varieties. The American Heart Association defines a serving size as “a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.”
If you’re ready to get nutty, here’s a nutritional breakdown of several different nuts and suggestions for working these tasty, portable snacks into your daily menu.
(1 oz. = 23 nuts, 164 calories, protein 6 g, fiber 3.54 g, vitamin E 7.27 mg, magnesium 76.5 mg, calcium 76.3 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Serving ideas: Sprinkle almonds in plain, low-fat Greek yogurt, add slices to salad, top oatmeal with slivers, or bake some up in this Almond-Honey Power Bar recipe.
Hazelnuts (aka filberts)
(1 oz. = 21 nuts, 178 calories, protein 4.24 g, fiber 2.75 g, vitamin E 4.26 mg, magnesium 46.2 mg, manganese 1.75 mg, potassium 193 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Eating hazelnuts can help reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, decrease total and “bad” cholesterol levels and lower diastolic blood pressure. The high amount of manganese can also help fight osteoarthritis, lower the risk of certain types of cancer and more.
Serving ideas: Stir hazelnuts into oatmeal, add to quinoa, chop and mix in a salad, blend into a smoothie or try this slow cooker brown rice pilaf with cherries and hazelnuts recipe.
(1 oz. = 28 nuts, 161 calories, protein 7.31 g, fiber 2.41 g, vitamin E 2.36 mg, magnesium 47.6 mg, calcium 26.1 mg, potassium 200 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Though technically legumes, peanuts are frequently grouped with tree nuts. According to the NIH, many studies have shown that consuming peanuts or peanut oil can reduce cardiovascular disease risk, improve serum lipid profiles, exhibit cardio-protective effects, and decrease colorectal cancer risk.
Serving ideas: Make some trail mix with peanuts, coconut, raisins and oat cereal, crush and top gelatin, or enjoy them chopped in this sticky peanut zoodles recipe.
(1 oz. = 19 halves, 196 calories, protein 2.6 g, fiber 2.72 g, magnesium 34.3 mg, calcium 19.8 mg, manganese 1.28 mg, potassium 116 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Pecans are a delicious source of calcium and potassium — which can help lower blood pressure. The zinc in pecans also helps bolster the immune system. Like most nuts, eating them also promotes heart health.
Serving ideas: Stir pecans into pancake batter or scatter them on top of a stack. Crown some fat-free pudding, add them to a salad, or savor them in this glazed praline salmon recipe.
(1 oz. = 49 nuts, 159 calories, protein 5.72 g, fiber 3 g, magnesium 34.3 mg, calcium 29.8 mg, potassium 291 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Pistachios pack all kinds of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, which helps regulate blood sugar and produce hemoglobin. The tasty nuts also are chock full of antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which is good for eye health.
Serving ideas: Bake pistachios into low-fat muffins, blend into trail mix, add crushed pistachios to a smoothie, swirl into Greek yogurt, or enjoy them in pistachio-crusted pork cutlets.
(1 oz. = 14 halves, 185 calories, protein 4.32 g, fiber 1.9 g, vitamin E .198 mg, magnesium 44.8 mg, calcium 27.8 mg, potassium 125 mg) Full nutritional guide.
Walnuts have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower heart disease risk. Other plant compounds and nutrients in walnuts fight oxidative stress and decrease inflammation that causes chronic illness. Studies have also linked eating walnuts to a boost in brain health in aging adults.
Serving ideas: Add chopped walnuts to a lettuce wrap or pita, top a slice of avocado toast, add them to dark chocolate bark, mix into a salad, or use them with almonds and pistachios in this nut and honey biscotti recipe.
Whatever way you enjoy them, nuts are a crunchy, yummy and healthy snack.
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