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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Eight of the healthiest nuts – confirmed by scientists

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When the craving for snacks hits, it can be hard to find something that’s both tasty and filling.

That’s exactly why nuts are one of the best options for snacks, offering everything from great taste to variety and satiety.

As an excellent source of fiber, protein and healthy fats, nuts are full of health benefits. More specifically, nuts are linked to better heart health, brain health and reduced inflammation.

1. Pistachios

“Pistachios are a vegetable source of complete proteins, which means they provide all the essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own,” says nutritionist Lauren Manaker.

Your body needs a balance of complete and incomplete proteins, which can sometimes be difficult for vegetarians or vegans because most complete proteins come from animal sources. But pistachios—along with foods like tofu, quinoa, and edamame—can help you achieve this balance without animal products.

Another benefit of pistachios is their antioxidant properties. “A study conducted by Cornell University and published in the journal Nutrients showed that pistachios have a very high antioxidant capacity, among the highest compared to the values ​​reported in research on many foods known for their antioxidant capacity, such as blueberries, pomegranates, cherries and beets” , adds Manaker.

2. Walnuts

“Walnuts are a source of vegetable protein, fiber and fat. They are the only nuts that are a source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids,” points out Manaker, which has been found to support heart, brain and eye health.

“The data also show that partially replacing meat with nuts can increase average intakes of fiber, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids among consumers, and that partial replacement may also result in improved overall diet quality.”

3. Macadamia nuts

“Macadamia nuts can be incorporated into a heart-healthy eating pattern that reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors,” says Manaker, and the same data suggest that replacing highly saturated foods with nuts like macadamias may also help reduce heart disease risk.

Manaker adds that one study also showed that, among men with high cholesterol, consumption of macadamia nuts can support lower LDL – ‘bad’ cholesterol.

4. Almonds

Almonds are great to snack on because they contain healthy fats, protein and fiber to help keep you full, but this healthy nut stands out from the rest because it contains the highest levels of vitamin E.

Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant properties and is known to help reduce inflammation and improve immune function, and has also been linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease and improved brain and eye health.

In addition to providing high levels of vitamin E, research also shows that eating almonds regularly as part of a healthy diet can potentially help lower LDL and total cholesterol.

5. Brazil nuts

Besides providing a dose of protein and fat, making them filling between meals, Brazil nuts are probably best known for their extremely high levels of selenium.

In just one Brazil nut, you’ll get 96 micrograms of selenium, which is 174 percent of your daily value. Your body requires selenium for a number of essential functions such as thyroid hormone metabolism, protection against oxidative damage, and DNA synthesis, and this nutrient has also been linked to reductions in certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, it’s easy to get too much of this nutrient and hit the upper limit of 400 micrograms. According to the National Institutes of Health, persistently exceeding the upper limit of selenium can lead to stomach problems, hair loss, or problems with the nervous system.

6. Cashew nuts

Cashews are rich in protein, healthy fats and vitamins like vitamin K and magnesium, meaning you can easily increase your nutrient intake.

In addition to its basic nutrient profile, some research has found that this nut may be especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. In a study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, diabetes patients who consumed a daily serving of cashews saw lower insulin levels and reduced cholesterol.

7. Pecans

Pecans are slightly lower in protein and fiber than many of the other nuts on our list, but they make up for it with healthy fats and levels of B vitamins, zinc, and manganese. This nut has also been linked to improving heart health factors and insulin levels.

According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, participants with coronary heart disease saw an improvement in their cholesterol levels after eating a daily dose of pecans for three months.

8. Hazelnuts

Of course, this nut may be most appreciated for its role in Nutella, but at its core, this nut can offer a significant portion of your daily value of things like vitamin E, manganese and magnesium, and can help you increase your intake of healthy fats, protein and fibers.

In addition, hazelnuts have been found to contain high levels of antioxidant plant substances that are associated with lower levels of inflammation and damage caused by oxidative stress.

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