Nuts are one of the most delicious yet healthy snacks that you can add to your diet plan. The fact that they integrate health benefits and does not taste bland makes them equally appealing to fussy children and anxious parents. These are easily available, easy to carry, and can be eaten anywhere you want. No extra preparation is required to make them sumptuous and they make healthy eating habits easier.
Despite containing a large amount of fat, nuts are generally considered to be a healthy snack option. Apart from unsaturated fats, nuts also contain fiber, L-arginine, and Vitamin E. Some of them contain plant sterols and omega-3 fatty acids. These components make nuts highly nutritious.
However, there are some healthy nuts and some that are best to avoid. Knowing about them will aid you in deciding which nut gets a permanent place in your daily diet chart.
Health benefits of nuts
Apart from being absolutely tasty, the fact that nuts health benefits are massive cannot be overlooked. Some of the health benefits of nuts are listed below.
1. Great source of antioxidants
healthy Nuts contain polyphenol, which provides antioxidants and may eliminate the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals. Too much free radicals can increase the chances of falling sick and cause damage to cells. Research shows that almonds and walnuts can prevent oxidative stress. According to a study, the ingestion of almond or walnut smoothies increased the levels of polyphenol in the participants. It also increased the antioxidative capacity and caused a reduction in oxidative damage.
2. Improves immunity
Another reason why you can include nuts as a part of your diet is that it may boost your immune system. Nuts consist of Vitamin E, Vitamin B, magnesium, etc. that aids in strengthening your immunity. Plus, the presence of antioxidants ensures the further improvement of your immune system.
3. High fiber content
The beneficial aspects of fiber are simply too many to be listed. It regulates bowel movements, reduces the level of cholesterols, helps in weight loss, reduces the chances of diabetes, etc. But, perhaps the most essential benefit of fiber is that it aids in boosting gut health.
Human beings cannot digest fiber on their own. However, the bacteria present in the colon can, and as such, convert fiber to short-chain fatty acids, which can be used by our body. This explains why healthy nuts snacks are prescribed by nutritionists.
Moreover, studies suggest that consumption of fiber could directly be connected with the decreased intake of calories. Almonds provide the maximum fiber content, followed by hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios.
4. Improves the condition of the heart
A healthy heart is absolutely essential for survival. As such, doctors advise the consumption of foods that works to improve the health condition of the heart. Nuts have proven to be extremely beneficial in this scenario. In fact, researches on a variety of nuts indicate that it may help in the considerable reduction in the risks of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. For instance, a study reveals that high-fat meals that have walnuts can vastly improve endothelial fiction.
5. Reduces inflammation
While short-term inflammation is necessary for fighting against harmful pathogens, bacteria, and viruses, long-term inflammation has adverse effects. Such inflammation can cause susceptibility to diseases and organ damage. Nuts contain anti-inflammatory properties that might aid in the combat of these chronic inflammations.
The latest researches suggest that nuts may prove to be beneficial for older people in preventing, or at the least, delaying various age-related chronic diseases. According to a study, people whose Mediterranean diet was added with nuts displayed a 90% and 45% reduction of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, which are inflammatory biomarkers.
6. Impact on the triglyceride and cholesterol level
Due to the relatively high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), nuts might have an effect on the levels of triglyceride and cholesterol. For instance, studies indicate that pistachios can reduce the level of triglycerides in people suffering from obesity.
Another research suggests that almonds increase the content of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. LDL HDL ratio of cholesterol and total HDL ratio of cholesterols were significantly reduced.
7. Helps in weight loss
Despite preconceived notions about healthy nuts regarding weight, due to the high content of calories, now it has come to the limelight that nuts, in fact, aid in weight loss. Moreover, further studies have indicated that the entire fat content of the nut is not absorbed by the body. Some remain enclosed within the fibrous wall of the nut.
In a study conducted on obese women, the results showed that women who consumed almonds daily displayed a significant reduction in weight, waist circumference, BMI, and ratio of waist and hip circumference.
Another research suggested that while walnuts have 185 kcal/serving, the actual calories ingested is 146 kcal/serving. This indicated a reduction of 21% in the intake of calories.
Some healthy nuts to add to your diet
After knowing the numerous health benefits of nuts, it is natural for you to think - which nuts are the healthiest? There are various nuts that can offer a plethora of health benefits for you. It is not possible to mention all the healthy nuts, but a compilation of some of them is given below.
One of the most commonly consumed healthy nuts is walnuts. These contain a high content of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic
acid. Due to this, walnuts may boost the health of the heart by causing a reduction in the risk factors. They are also linked with improving blood pressure and reducing inflammation. A study indicates that eating walnuts can enhance the cognitive performance of an individual.
An ounce of walnuts contains 182 calories, 2 gm of fiber, 18 gms of fat, 4 gm carbs, 4 gm protein, 11% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) of magnesium, and 1% of the RDI of Vitamin E.
If you are wondering whether almonds are considered as one of the healthy nuts to eat, you can rest be assured that they indeed are. While there are contradicting pieces of evidence that implicate almonds in the improvement of cholesterol levels, studies have found that it may cause a reduction in LDL cholesterol, which contributes to improving the health condition of the heart.
One ounce of almonds comprises 14 gm fat, 3.5 gm fiber, 6 gm carbs, 6 gm protein, and 161 calories. It also contains 19% of the RDI in magnesium and 37% of the RDI in Vitamin E.
Although Pecans can be eaten alone, it is highly popular due to its usage in desserts. In case you are thinking what is the healthy nuts that you can have? Try pecans. Studies suggest that pecans might aid in the reduction of LDL cholesterol in people who have normal levels of cholesterol. The presence of polyphenols indicates the antioxidant property that the nut exhibits. Another study displayed that a diet enriched with pecans increases the antioxidant capacity.
An ounce of pecans consists of 4 gm carbs, 3 gm proteins, 2.5 gm fiber, 20 gm fat, and 193 calories. It also has 2% of the RDI in Vitamin E and 8% of the RDI in magnesium.
Pistachio has a wide range of benefits that include an increase in HDL cholesterol, maintaining blood pressure, and regulating the oxidative status. It is also involved with the reduction of risk factors related to heart diseases.
One ounce of pistachio contains 156 calories, 3 gm fiber, 12.5 gm fat, 8 gm carbs, and 6 gm protein. It also consists of 8% of the RDI in magnesium and 3% of the RDI in vitamin E.
Hazelnuts are associated with several health benefits. They play a role in keeping the heart healthy by reducing the risk factors. As per a study, daily intake of hazelnut improves endothelial function, reduces inflammatory markers, and decreases LDL cholesterol.
An ounce of hazelnut consists of 9 gm fat, 3.5 gm fiber, 6 gm carbs, 6 gm protein, and 176 calories. It also contains 20% of the RDI in magnesium and 37% of the RDI in vitamin E.
Can nuts be eaten every day?
Discarding the notion that nuts are not a favorable eating habit might be hard for some. However, recent studies suggest the exact opposite. Evidence points to the fact that ingesting nuts on a regular basis can reduce the chances of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It may even add some years to your lifespan.
Some of the best nuts for health also help to maintain weight loss and aids in brain development. So, you can and should have some nuts throughout the day, be it as a part of your meals or as a snack. You can also eat a combination of mixed nuts, thereby satisfying your taste buds and increasing the nutritional value at the same time.
While Healthy nuts are generally quite healthy, it is vital to keep in mind that excessive consumption can lead to some serious health issues. To ensure that you obtain the maximum benefits, it is recommended to eat nuts of about 1.5 ounces daily. Also, allergic reactions to nuts are common with side effects like skin irritation, vomiting, anaphylactic shock, etc.
There are also some nuts that must not be consumed more than the required quota to avoid serious health consequences. It is better to have a consultation with a healthcare professional if you have an unpleasant reaction to nuts.