Nuts have a reputation for being unhealthy due to their fat and oil content, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Saturated fats, which are found in mass quantities in junk food, can lead to high cholesterol and heart problems. Nuts, on the other hand, contain unsaturated fats and only a minimal amount of saturated fats.
Certain types of nuts are even known to reduce the risk of heart disease, are high in omega-3 fatty acids which increase brain function, and have no cholesterol. Nuts that are fresh or simply dry roasted, without salt, butter or other additives, are a great addition to anyone’s healthy diet–as long as nut allergies aren’t present.
- With their brown, textured skin and mild flavor, almonds have the most vitamin Eand calcium of all tree nuts, and the least amount of calories: 160 per serving, along with cashews and unsalted pistachios. Twenty to 24 almonds equal one serving, according to the Fruit and Nut Council (see below for link).
- There are six to eight Brazil nuts in a single serving. They contain 25 percent of the daily value of magnesium, and hundreds of times more than the recommended daily value of selenium, which works as an antioxidant in the body, improving organ function and protecting cells from free radical damage. Selenium has been known to help people with AIDS/HIV, because it is an immunodeficient disease, attacking cells in the body. Selenium can help prevent a further deterioration of the cells (see link for more information).
- Cashews, like peanuts, are low in calories: 160 per serving. There are 16 to 18 cashews per serving. Cashews contain the most iron of all tree nuts, with 10 percent of the daily value per serving. They’re also high in copper and phosphorous.
- Pecans have the most calories per serving of all tree nuts: 200, and they offer plenty of nutritional value to keep you healthy. They contain only 2 g of saturated fat, which is actually lower than many tree nuts. They contain 60 percent of the daily value of manganese and 10 percent of thiamin; nutrients that are good for helping the body absorb vitamin C and fight free radicals, and improve circulation. Eighteen to 20 pecan halves equal one serving.
- Peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut, but they are regularly lumped into the nut category. There are 166 calories in a serving, which is 1 oz. of peanuts. Peanuts contain 13 percent of the daily value of protein, and 19 percent of the daily value of riboflavin, or vitamin B2, which is helpful in cellular function.
Macadamia nuts have the most saturated fat of all nuts, but 80 percent of their fat content is monounsaturated, which has been shown to lower triglycerides and have beneficial effects on LDL and HDL cholesterol.
When to grab a handful: At breakfast. “They contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats, meaning they will help your breakfast stick with you for longer-lasting energy,” says Upton.
Pistachios are particularly good for keeping your eyes healthy, thanks to significant amounts of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are stored in the retina and help maintain good vision.
When to grab a handful: Postworkout. Besides helping eyesight, pistachios are loaded with protein, which helps muscles recover. “An ounce has as much protein as an egg,” says Upton.
Walnuts are very high in omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid, which helps stop inflammation in the body and prevents coronary heart disease.
When to grab a handful: With a steak dinner. “They’ve been shown to reduce the injury that a high-fat meal does on your arteries,” says Dr. Robert Vogel, chief medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.
Pine nuts are delicious little treats that can be sprinkled on salads or added to a wide variety of recipes. You can also bake salmon with grapeseed oil and add a few pine nuts on top for a healthy meal. Pine nuts come from varioustrees such as the Korean pine, Siberian pine, Swiss Stone Pine and the common Pinyon Pine. Each tiny nut is packed full of nutrients and good fats. Pine nuts are usually harvested by hand at various times throughout the year. They may be purchased raw, shelled or roasted. Raw pine nuts should be refrigerated to maintain freshness.
- Pine nuts are loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Antioxidants are megavitamins that help protect cells from free radical damage. Free radical damage happens naturally as we age, but it can also be accelerated by diet, stress and other factors. Pine nuts contain a long list of antioxidants from Vitamin A to Vitamin E (see link in References.)
- One oz. of pine nuts contains about 1 g of fiber. Fiber helps improve digestive health by removing toxins and keeping bowel movements regular. Eating a diet high in fiber has been shown to reduce constipation and hemorrhoids. Fiber helps maintain a clean colon by preventing waste back up on the walls of the colon. Fiber from nuts is easy for the body to assimilate (see link in References).
- Pine nuts contain large concentrations of oleic acid. This is a beneficial monounsaturated fat that helps to control cholesterol levels by removing triglycerides from the body. Triglycerides contribute to heart disease so it is important to consume foods and supplements that help to improve heart health by controlling triglycerides. Oleic acid is an Omega-9 fatty acid that was used in Lorenzo’s Oil. The scientific term for ALD is adrenoleukodystrophy; it is a degenerative myelin disorder. Myelin is essential because it coats the nerves with a protective insulation that helps maintain normal body functions. The oleic acid found in Lorenzo’s Oil helps to slow down the effects of the disease.
- Pine nuts contain high levels of certain vitamins such as Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone health. Vitamin K is fat soluble, meaning that this vitamin is also present in fat tissues and utilized through the fat. Vitamin K helps to relieve menstrual cramps and improve circulation. One cup of pine nuts contains about 72 mcg Vitamin K.
- Another important antioxidant found in pine nuts is lutein. Lutein has been shown to improve vision and eye health. A small amount of lutein is found in the macula of the eye. The macula is the area of the retina that controls central vision. The theory is that lutein is contained here because this antioxidant helps to prevent oxidative stress from bright lights. One cup of pine nuts contains about 9 mcg of lutein.