Nuts belong on everyone's shopping list

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Many people pass by the nut shelves in the supermarket because they think these nutritional powerhouses are fattening or they see them as an unnecessary expense. There is evidence that the former is wrong and the latter is unwise.

Yes, nuts have a lot of calories. However, a handful can keep the stomach satisfied until dinner, and they are far better nutritionally than most other snacks. A study done at Purdue University showed that a serving of nuts every day was not linked to weight gain, despite the calorie intake. One ounce of nuts contains between 160 and 200 calories.

Some of the reasons nuts should be a daily snack

  • A well-publicized study reported in 2015 that eating any kind of nuts may lengthen your life.
  • Another study linked nut consumption to improving heart health and weight control.
  • A third study showed nuts were helpful in blood sugar control.
  • A similar study revealed that tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, and others) are particularly good for patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Nuts are good for your brain. Peanuts are especially high in folate, which is necessary for brain growth in the developing fetus, and may delay or help avoid cognitive decline in the elderly.
  • Nuts are great for vegetarians, who are often short of protein and folate.
  • Nuts lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, and lower the risk of blood clots which can lead to a heart attack. They improve the condition of artery linings.

The components of nuts that make them so nutritious

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the "good" fats that are known to promote good health, especially heart health.
  • Vitamin E may help avoid the buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • Plant sterols help lower cholesterol.
  • L-arginine is an amino acid that makes arteries more flexible and lowers the risk of blood clots.
  • The protein in nuts can keep blood sugar under control.
  • Fiber — all nuts have it.

There are also additional vitamins and minerals.

Which conditions are helped by specific nuts

  • Walnuts, according to a Spanish study, are as healthful as olive oil in reducing inflammation in the arteries following a high-fat meal. Eating only eight walnuts will do this. They also have the highest amount of antioxidants of all the nuts, and they help prevent the cellular damage that causes heart disease, cancer and premature aging.
  • Almonds are high in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, a strong antioxidant. They may also help weight loss, as shown by a recent study. They help lower insulin resistance, control blood sugar and elevate the number of good bacteria in the gut.
  • Cashews are high in zinc and iron. Zinc is crucial for immune system function and vision health, and iron helps prevent anemia. Cashews are also high in magnesium, which is good for memory and age-related memory loss.
  • Pecans ae especially good for men because their plant sterols may lessen symptoms of an enlarged prostate. They help maintain heart health, like other nuts do, by lowering LDL and preventing plaque buildup. Pecans are also heart-friendly and good for the brain. The vitamin E they contain may slow degenerative neurological illnesses like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • Macadamia nuts contain the most calories of all the nuts, but also have the highest amount of monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. They lower LDL, blood pressure and triglycerides.
  • Pistachios have less than four calories each, which makes them a good snack for weight-conscious folks. They may lower lung cancer risk due to a high amount of a certain type of vitamin E. They also contain potassium and vitamin B6.
  • Hazelnuts are high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, which may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. They also may lower the risk of dementia and keep skin healthy.
  • Brazil nuts are high in the mineral selenium, and eating just one will satisfy the daily limit. Selenium is toxic if you eat too much. They may also help prevent prostate cancer.

The most common and healthful nuts are listed here. But all nuts have health-enhancing ingredients and make a tasty and nutritious snack.

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