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Walnuts May Control Your Mind To Help Lose Weight

No nut is going to control me, you may say. You are your own person. You eat what you want, when you want. But science may say otherwise about walnuts.

What is up with deez nuts? Five researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (Olivia M. Farr Ph.D., Dario Tuccinardi M.D., Jagriti Upadhyay M.D., Sabrina M. Oussaada, and Christos S. Mantzoros M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D.) conducted a study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. The researchers first randomly assigned ten hospitalized patients with obesity five straight days of either a smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts or a similarly tasting and textured smoothie without walnuts. Then after one month of returning to their original diets, those who first got the walnut smoothie then got five days of the non-walnut smoothie and vice versa. One participant eventually dropped out of the study, leaving nine who completed the whole protocol.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured each of the study subjects’ brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. After the 5 day smoothie diet, study subjects then underwent another fMRI to see how things had changed.

Then there was the food porn. The researchers showed the study subjects different pictures while undergoing the fMRI. Pictures included those of “highly desirable foods” (high-calorie or high-fat images, e.g., cakes, onion rings), “less desirable foods” (low-calorie or low-fat images, e.g.,, vegetables and fruits) and “non-foods” (e.g., flowers, rocks, trees). Yes, you rock and flower eaters may say that everything’s subjective, but these were the designations by the researchers. Before and after each fMRI scan, study subjects completed visual analog scales (VAS) to measure how hungry or full they felt.

The study resulted in two major findings. First, after the walnut smoothie diet, study subjects reported feeling less hungry than after the non-walnut smoothie diet. Secondly, following the five days of walnut smoothies, study subjects had differences in their brain activity (as measured by fMRI) when shown food porn. Specifically, the right insula part of the brain seemed to be more active. Parts of the insula may be responsible for satiety and inhibition. In other words, something about walnuts may be telling your brain to simmer down when shown mouth-watering food. This could be some Vulcan mind meld-like stuff: walnuts may help you control your appetite and thus help with managing your weight.

 

Of course, this is a very small study with measurements taken only over a short period of time. It also does not prove that walnuts can actually control your appetite or if any of the findings will persist over time. Effects can wear off as the brain and body get used to eating a certain type of food. More, larger, and more complex studies are needed before drawing stronger conclusions. But these results are encouraging. Note that the California Walnut Commission (CWC) did provide funding for this study. However, they were not directly involved in designing, conducting, interpreting, or reporting the results for the study.

These findings are not completely surprising. There is increasing evidence that food and their ingredients don’t simply just provide calories and nutrients to your body like emptying a dump truck into a hole (with the hole being your mouth). Food and ingredients may interact and communicate with your body in many different and mysterious ways. For example, the work of Tim Moran, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral and Biological Research for our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) and Paul R. McHugh Professor of Motivated Behaviors at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has shown how your gastrointestinal tract and brain are communicating back and forth with each other to help regulate your hunger, cravings, and metabolism. Even though your body may seem relatively quiet (although some people’s bodies may seem louder than others), there’s a lot of discussion and maybe even arguments going on inside you. Here’s a talk from Dr. Moran for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that begins to show just how complex these systems are:

How noisy your body and brain may be may vary compared to others, depending on you and all of the cues around you. For instance, a recent study published in the journal Neuroimage and led by Susan Carnell, PhD, another member of our GOPC and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found that adolescents who are at higher obesity risk may have different brain activity patterns when presented with words representing different types of foods.

As Dr. Carnell explained, “When it comes to hunger and satiation, a calorie is not necessarily a calorie. Food with a high glycemic index, like pasta, are processed more quickly than those with a low glycemic index, like beans and nuts, so you may still feel hungry after consuming a large amount of mac and cheese.”

Thus, adding an ingredient here and there to your food, especially artificial ones, could change what your food is saying to you. For example, Alice Walton previously wrote for Forbes about how artificial sweeteners may even lead to weight gain by interfering with brain connections that usually associate the sensation of sweetness and energy intake. In other words, your brain may usually equate a certain amount of sweet food with a certain amount of calories. When this association is messed up (which is a scientific term), your brain may say something is screwed up, eat more food. That’s why the global obesity epidemic may be due in part to the content of our food having changed. Since the 1980’s more and more “manufactured” and highly processed food has entered our diets.

All of this reemphasizes how you, your surroundings, food, nutrition, health, and obesity really form very complex systems and how obesity is very complex problem. It also says that even when you are eating alone, you are not really alone. Your food is having conversations with your body and brain. You might as well say in your best Robert De Niro voice to your food, “you talkin’ to me?” The answer with walnuts is probably yes and maybe in a good way.

Bruce Y. Lee , CONTRIBUTOR       AUG 19, 2017       Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
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Certain Nuts Linked to Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer Return: Study

Nut-eaters saw a 42 percent lower chance of cancer recurrence – and a 57 percent lower chance of death than patients who did not eat nuts after completion of their cancer treatment, said the report.

Eating certain kinds of tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews, has been linked to a dramatically lower risk of colon cancer recurrence, researchers said Wednesday.

The observational study involved 826 patients who had undergone treatment for Stage III colon cancer, typically including surgery and chemotherapy. Such patients – whose cancer has not spread elsewhere in the body – have a 70 per cent chance of surviving three years after treatment.

Some 19 per cent of patients consumed two or more ounces of all types of nuts per week.

These nut-eaters saw a 42 per cent lower chance of cancer recurrence – and a 57 per cent lower chance of death than patients who did not eat nuts after completion of their cancer treatment, said the report, released ahead of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, held in Chicago next month.

When researchers looked only at tree nut consumption, the chance of recurrence was 46 per cent lower and the chance of death was 53 per cent lower for those who ate at least two ounces per week, compared to people who did not eat nuts.

Peanuts and peanut butter – the most commonly consumed nuts in the United States – did not appear to have any significant effect.

“Numerous studies in the fields of heart disease and diabetes have shown the benefits of nut consumption, and we felt that it was important to determine if these benefits could also apply to colorectal cancer patients,” said lead study author Temidayo Fadelu, a clinical fellow in medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“Patients with advanced disease who benefit from chemotherapy frequently ask what else they can do to reduce their chances of recurrence or death, and our study is an important contribution to the idea that modifying diet and physical activity can be beneficial.”

Eating nuts should not be considered a substitute for standard chemotherapy and other treatments for colon cancer, experts said.

“Rather, patients with colon cancer should be optimistic, and they should eat a healthy diet, including tree nuts, which may not only keep them healthier, but may also further decrease the chances of the cancer coming back,” said ASCO president Daniel Hayes.

Researchers cautioned that the study was observational nature and did not prove cause and effect.

A separate study discussed Wednesday ahead of the Chicago cancer conference involved 992 people whose colon cancer had not spread. It showed that following a Mediterranean diet and exercising reduced their risk of dying prematurely by 42 per cent and also cut their chances of seeing their colon cancer return.

Thursday, May 18, 2017 


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The Healthiest Nuts

Health Nuts: Ranking Nuts

Here’s our list of favorite nuts, ranked by their nutrient density. These varieties contain the most protein, fiber, B-vitamins, calcium, minerals, and vitamin E for the least amount of saturated fat:

  1. Almonds
  2. Filberts (hazelnuts)
  3. Peanuts
  4. Chestnuts
  5. Pistachios
  6. Walnuts
  7. Cashews
  8. Pecans
  9. Macadamias

Almonds. Our “Top Nut” award goes to the almond. Here are the main nutrients in one ounce of almonds (a medium-size handful):

  • 166 calories
  • 5 grams of protein
  • 14 grams of fat (90 percent unsaturated)
  • 4 grams of fiber (the highest fiber content of any nut or seed), unblanched
  • 80 milligrams of calcium
  • 1.4 milligrams of zinc
  • 1 milligram of iron
  • 6.7 milligrams of vitamin E
  • some B-vitamins, minerals, and selenium

Filberts, (hazelnuts) because they are high in the amino acid tryptophan, are a good nut for sleep. Almonds and filberts have the most vitamin E (6.7 milligrams per ounce) – nearly 25 percent of the adult recommended dietary allowance.

NUTRITIP
Sleep Nuts } Eating a small handful of nuts as a before-bedtime snack may help you catch more Z’s. Some nuts and seeds, especially whole filberts and ground sesame seeds, have a high amount of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.

Walnuts have the greatest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chestnuts are lowest in fat, containing only about 10 percent as much fat as other nuts. What little fat is in the chestnut (1.3 grams per ounce) is nearly all the unsaturated type. Chestnuts also contain three grams of fiber per ounce, but they are relatively low in protein.

Soybean nuts and peanuts are not really nuts at all. They are legumes, and they come from plants rather than trees. Both are very nutritious. Soybean nuts, while less popular because of their less appealing taste, are actually the most nutritious nut. A quarter cup of soybean nuts contains a similar number of calories to other nuts, yet packs the following nutrients:

  • 17 grams of protein
  • 9 grams of fat (90 percent unsaturated)
  • 3.5 grams of fiber
  • 138 milligrams of folic acid (33 percent of the DV)
  • 116 milligrams of calcium (10 percent of the DV)
  • 2 milligrams of zinc (around 15 percent of the DV)
  • 1.7 milligrams of iron (10 percent of the DV)
  • 19 micrograms of selenium

When purchasing soybean nuts, avoid those that are roasted in “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.

almonds

The Five Healthiest Nuts

By  Julie O’Hara

PISTACHIOS
1 OZ./49 NUTS
158 calories, 13 g fat 3 g fiber
Pistachios are high in cholesterol-lowering plant sterols and have more potassium than most nuts (291 mg per ounce).

ALMONDS
1 OZ./23 NUTS
163 calories, 14 g fat, 4 g fiber
One ounce provides half your daily vitamin E—more than any other nut. It also supplies 8 percent of your daily calcium needs.

HAZELNUTS
1 OZ./21 NUTS
178 calories, 17 g fat, 3 g fiber
These are rich in iron and proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and prevent UTIs.

WALNUTS
1 OZ./14 HALVES
185 calories, 18 g fat, 2 g fiber
Walnuts deliver the most omega-3 fatty acids and contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which supports the immune system.

BRAZIL NUTS
1 OZ./6 NUTS
186 calories, 19 g fat, 2 g fiber
A single Brazil nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that may play a role in preventing breast cancer.

source: www.shape.com


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16 Reasons To GO NUTS For Nuts

BY DR. RONALD HOFFMAN  NOVEMBER 29, 2013 

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores the health benefits of nuts. Researchers followed over a hundred thousand men and women over several decades and concluded that eating nuts helped them stave off the Grim Reaper. Seven or more servings of nuts per week cut the risk of dying by a third! (“A serving” was defined as one ounce, which is about one handful of almonds.)

Specifically, those who at nuts five or more times per week were found to enjoy a 29% reduction in death from heart disease; an 11% reduction in death from stroke; a 23% reduction in death from infection; a 24% reduction in death from respiratory diseases; a 29% reduction in death from kidney disease; and an 11% reduction in death from cancer.

It’s long been known that nuts are heart-healthy. A now-famous study of Seventh-Day Adventists who consume a low-fat, plant-based diet compared non-nut eaters to nut-eaters, anticipating that the nuts (which are high in calories and fat) might raise their heart disease risk. Au contraire!

Even though they were already on a heart-healthy, predominantly vegetarian diet, those Adventists who consumed nuts at least five times a week had a 48% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 51% lower risk of a nonfatal heart attack compared to those who consumed nuts less than once weekly.

Ironically, the Federal Government doesn’t want nut manufacturers to broadcast these benefits to consumers. In a recent case, the Food and Drug Administration sent a sharply-worded warning letter to Diamond Food, Inc., a manufacturer of walnuts, ordering them to “cease and desist” from making medical claims about their products. They even threatened to confiscate the “misbranded” nuts as illegal contraband!

It seems that, the way the officials see it, if nuts are to be advertised as reducing the risk of a specific disease, they must undergo the same rigorous application process as drugs, an insurmountable regulatory hurdle that would require years of wrangling and hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, and fortunately, we don’t need FDA approval to enjoy the many health benefits of nuts.

Here are 16 reasons why you might want to include them frequently in your diet.

1. Nuts are a perfect VEGAN food.

With the current emphasis on plant-based diets, nuts provide a great complement to grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. They add protein and healthy oils to balance vegetarian diets that might otherwise tend to be carb-rich and skimpy in beneficial fats and certain vitamins and minerals.

2. Nuts are PALEO.

That is, with the exception of peanuts, which are actually legumes, sometimes spurned by hard-core Paleo adherents because of their lectin content. Tree nuts and seeds are ancient staples of the human diet to which millions of years of evolution have made us well-adapted.

3. Nuts are LOW-CARB, low GI.

The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a determinant of how quickly the sugars in foods are digested, absorbed, and released into the blood stream. High-GI foods are thought to overwhelm the body’s sugar-handling capabilities, resulting in progression towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Nuts are relatively low-carb to begin with, and the carbs they contain are released slowly after a meal. They make a great snack to stave off sugar-craving or hypoglycemia.

4. Nuts promote SATIETY.

While nuts are caloric, eating nuts promotes a sensation of fullness that fends off the munchies for less healthy fat-laden or sugar-laden junk food. Some studies suggest that adding nuts to your diet can actually help you lose weight.

5. Nuts are high in FIBER.

While not traditionally thought of as a high-fiber food, nuts are rich in soluble fiber, the best kind for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

nuts

6. Nuts are a rich source of PHYTOSTEROLS.

These plant sterols are thought to bind to cholesterol and help to sweep it harmlessly out of the body; phytosterols are even recognized by the American Heart Association as a natural way to reduce heart disease risk.

7. Nuts contain healthy fats and oils.

Nuts are rich in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid. Note the word essential: the body cannot make these oils on its own, and we must obtain them from outside sources. Lack of these essential fatty acids can cause dry skin, inflammation, infertility, mood and memory problems and promote heart disease.

8. Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E.

Getting your vitamin E from a pill may not be as good as getting natural vitamin E from nuts and seeds. There are actually eight different forms of natural vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols: nuts deliver the full spectrum of this critical antioxidant.

9. Nuts are rich in B vitamins.

Nuts provide many vital B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

10. Nuts are a source of critical POLYPHENOLS.

Polyphenols are plant-derived antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. Nuts contain a wide variety of polyphenols, including resveratrol, lutein, cryptoxanthin and many others. Some seeds, like flaxseed and sesame, are rich in lignans, a specific subtype of polyphenols that may protect against reproductive cancers.

11. Nuts are the richest plant source of ZINC.

A mineral critical for immunity and reproductive function, strict vegetarians sometimes don’t get enough.

12. Nuts are high in MAGNESIUM.

Consider magnesium the energy mineral; its lack may be felt as fatigue or irritability and it can even increase the risk of heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Magnesium’s role in bone metabolism is often underestimated.

13. Nuts deliver COPPER.

Unless you fancy liver or oysters, nuts and seeds are your best bet as dietary sources for the essential trace mineral copper.

14. Nuts provide SELENIUM.

Just two or three Brazil nuts per day can give you all the immune-boosting selenium your body needs, especially if you’re not fond of fish or meat.

15. Nuts are PORTABLE.

Unlike baked chicken breast or poached salmon, a small packet of nuts can easily be stashed in your briefcase, purse or backpack, ready to provide an instant, non-perishable hunger-banishing snack in the office, on the commute, or on the trail.

16. Nuts are VERSATILE.

They can be used as stand-alone snack foods; spread on sandwiches (with all the nut butter varieties available, you don’t need to get hung up on just traditional PB); sprinkled on salads or vegetable side dishes; mixed with grains to provide a flavor accent; as a gluten-free crust for baked fish or chicken; or even power-blended into your favorite smoothie.

 


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Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts have sweet taste and are rich source of energy. 100 g of nuts provide about 718 calorie/100 g, which is one of the highest values among nuts.

They are packed with numerous health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health and wellness.

100 g of macadamia provides 8.6 g or 23% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber. Additionally, they are a very good source of phytosterols such as β-sitosterol. However, the nuts contain no cholesterol.

Since macadamia is free from gluten, it is one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are a healthy alternative in patients with wheat gluten allergy and celiac disease.

The nuts are rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty (MUF) like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that MUF fats in the diet help lower total as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fiber, MUF fats and antioxidants work favorably in maintaining healthy blood lipid profile and thus offer protection from coronary artery disease and strokes.

Macadamia

Macadamias are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. 100 g nuts provide 3.6 µg of selenium. Selenium is a cardio-protective micro-mineral and an important anti-oxidant cofactor for glutathione peroxidase enzyme.

Furthermore, the nuts are also rich in many important B-complex vitamins that are vital for metabolic functions. 100 g of nuts provide 15% of niacin, 21% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.

They contain small amounts of vitamin-A, and vitamin E. Both these fat-soluble vitamins possess potent anti-oxidant activities, which serve to protect cell membranes and DNA damage from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

In concise, sweet, refreshing macadamias are brimming with essential minerals, vitamins and heart-friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids.


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Nuts and Your Health: What to Know

By Kathleen Doheny   WebMD Health News   Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD     Sept. 10, 2014

Once viewed by some as a food too high in calories to enjoy on a regular basis, nuts are getting new respect.

Two recent studies have touted the benefits of nuts for blood sugar control. One, published in Diabetes Care, found that eating pistachio nuts daily may help people at risk of getting diabetes control their blood sugar. A second, published in PLOS One, found that tree nuts — including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and pecans, among others — may improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.

These are only a couple of many recent studies that point to the health benefits of eating nuts in moderation.

WebMD asked two dietitians to dish on what else we need to know about these crunchy treats.

What are some of the top health benefits of nuts, as found in recent research?

Aside from helping with blood sugar, nuts have been linked with improving heart health and helping with weight control. A study from last year even suggested that eating nuts of any type may help you live longer.

Doctors have known about the heart-health benefits for a while, says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN. She’s a professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University and a nutrition consultant. The value of nuts to lower cholesterol has also been acknowledged, says Jessica Crandall, RDN. She’s the director for outpatient nutritional counseling at Sodexo Denver Wellness and Nutrition.

What’s more, researchers from Purdue University found that nuts are not linked with weight gain, despite their relatively high calorie count. An ounce of nuts has 160-200 calories, depending on the type.

What are the “good things” in nuts, and how do these substances work in our bodies?

The protein in nuts can help keep blood sugar stable, Crandall says. The fiber helps with weight control, partly by helping us feel full. Some say the ”crunch” value also adds to a feeling of fullness.

Nuts are about 80% fat, but mostly ”good” unsaturated fats. Other good stuff in nuts includes magnesium (which helps maintain the calcium-potassium balance in your body), folate (critical for a healthy brain), and vitamin E (to maintain a healthy circulatory system). They also have arginine, an amino acid that’s needed to make nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels.

Plus, nuts can improve insulin sensitivity, which lowers diabetes risk, research has shown.

Are some nuts better or healthier than others?

“I think they are all healthy,” Rosenbloom says. “All are similar in protein, fiber, and fat [content].”

Still, she says, some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others. For instance, almonds are the best source of vitamin E, she says. Cashews are a good source of magnesium, and pistachios are rich in the phytonutrients important to eye health, she says. “Eating a variety of the different kinds will give you all those [benefits].”

While peanuts are considered a legume by the peanut industry, since they’re grown in the ground, nutritionists consider them as healthy as other nuts because of their similar nutritional properties, Crandall says.

walnuts

Nuts can be high in calories. Should you avoid them if you’re trying to lose weight?

Decades ago, Rosenbloom used to tell her clients trying to lose weight to avoid nuts. She doesn’t these days, though. Many people are surprised when she tells them to have nuts in moderation.

“What the research shows is, when you are consuming nuts – 1 or 2 ounces a day – your total calorie count does not go up,” Crandall says. It makes sense, she says, because nuts might often take the place of other snacks, like potato chips, that are less filling. Nuts’ protein and fiber, on the other hand, helps you feel full.

Pay attention to how many you eat, though, Rosenbloom says.

What is a serving of nuts?

In the studies, researchers often use 1 to 2 ounces as a serving, Rosenbloom says. She generally recommends an ounce as a serving size, with maybe 2 ounces for a very active man.

How many nuts do you get for an ounce? It depends on the nut, Crandall says. You can have roughly 25 almonds for an ounce-worth, but only 17 macadamia nuts.

An ounce of pistachios is about 49 nuts.

“I usually recommend recommend people get unsalted,” Rosenbloom says. If those unsalted nuts are too bland, Crandall tells her patients to sprinkle on cinnamon and broil them, or add rosemary and garlic.

Rosenbloom warns clients to keep nuts in their proper place in the diet. “If you are taking a half-cup of walnuts and putting it over a hot fudge sundae, that’s not the healthy way to eat nuts.”

Rather, she says, add nuts to a tossed salad or a stir-fry dish.

People who like to buy the large, economy-size bags of nuts should portion them out at home, using small bags or containers for a 1-ounce serving, Rosenbloom says.

Why are so many studies funded by the nut industry?

“One reason is there is so little government funding,” she says. That’s true for much medical research.

The nut industry, she says, ”has been smart. They know they have a health [related] product but need to be able to have research conducted to show that.”

Typically, she says, the industry ”gives grants to the top researchers in the field.” Those grants mean the researchers do their work independently, without influence from the funder or manufacturer. Also, the studies are peer-reviewed before they’re published in a journal.

SOURCES: Christine Rosenbloom, RDN, PhD, professor emeriti of nutrition, Georgia State University, Atlanta. Jessica Crandall, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, certified diabetes educator and director for outpatient nutritional counseling, Sodexo GM Denver Wellness and Nutrition. Tan, SY. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 11, 2014. Hernandez-Alonso, P. Diabetes Care, Aug. 14, 2014. Nishi SK. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, August 2014. Jaceldo-Siegl K. PLoS One, Jan. 8, 2014.


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The 5 Healthiest Nuts

1. Walnuts

The walnut is, hands down, one of the best healthiest nuts to eat, and that is largely because of its high content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat. Just one-quarter cup of walnuts gives you nearly 91 percent of the recommended daily value for this healthy fat.3

Your body cannot make omega-3 fats on its own, which is why it’s so important to include omega-3-rich foods in your diet. Aside from helping to protect against heart disease and stroke, omega-3 fats have been found to offer protection against wide range of illnesses, from cancer and rheumatoid arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease and depression.4

Walnuts also contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that is beneficial for your immune system and appears to have anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that ellagic acid helps prevent cancer-causing substances from binding to DNA, scavenges and “binds to” cancer-causing chemicals to inactive them and promotes cell death of cancer cells without harming healthy cells.5

Walnuts even contain melatonin, a hormone produced by your pineal gland that helps regulate your sleep and also offers potent antioxidant benefits. Eating walnuts, researchers found, increases your levels of melatonin along with its antioxidant activity in your body.6

2. Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Plus, they offer unique benefits for your blood sugar levels as one of the healthiest nuts.

When eaten with a meal, almonds may help to lower surges in your blood sugar and insulin levels, a mechanism that may help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes and heart disease.7 Eating almonds also leads to increases in antioxidant levels that may help to fight damage from free radicals.

The healthiest nuts benefits to blood sugar levels hold true even when almonds are eaten with a food that normally prompts your blood sugar to spike, such as bread. One study found that when almonds were eaten with bread (a high-glycemic index food), it reduced the glycemic index of the meal.8

What this means is that if you spread some almond butter on your toast in the morning, it will lessen the bread’s impact on your blood sugar levels – a very nice benefit for your health!

Further, research has shown that eating almonds can actually help you lose weight. In a study of 65 overweight or obese adults, those who ate a low-calorie diet supplemented with almonds lost 7 percent more weight and had a 5 percent greater reduction in waist circumference than those whose diet was supplemented with complex carbs.9

3. Pecans

Pecans needn’t be limited to your yearly slice of pecan pie at Thanksgiving, as, like other healthiest nuts, they offer a slew of health benefits.

Among the most significant are high levels of antioxidants, including vitamin E. As a result, research shows that eating a handful of pecans a day helps to stop oxidation of blood lipids, which may help to prevent coronary heart disease.10

Pecans actually rank highest in antioxidant content among all nuts, which means they may be beneficial for lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.11 These healthiest nuts also contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin A, folic acid and magnesium, making them a smart snacking choice.

4. Cashews

Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts, and the fat they do contain is extremely healthy. About 75 percent of these healthiest nuts is comprised of oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.12

Cashews are also a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body, including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, regulating heart rhythm and blood sugar levels, promoting normal blood pressure, supporting your immune system and keeping your bones strong.13

According to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, “substantial numbers” of Americans do not get the recommended amounts of this important nutrient, and therefore may be missing out on important health benefits.

Fortunately, eating about 1 ounce of cashews provides 75 milligrams, or 20 percent of the daily recommended value, of magnesium, so eating cashews is a simple way to boost your intake (almonds also contain a similar amount of magnesium).

5. Macadamia Nuts

This Hawaiian staple is often considered a decadent treat, but there’s reason to add them to your regular diet. Macadamias contain 78 percent heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which is the highest of any oil, including olive oil.14

Studies show that these healthiest nuts despite their high fat content, eating macadamia nuts helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and may help to prevent coronary artery disease.15

They are also one of the few foods to contain palmitoleic acid, which preliminary research suggests may play a role in fat metabolism and helping to reduce stored body fat.16

More Tips for Adding Healthiest Nuts to Your Diet

When it comes to healthiest nuts, don’t let their size fool you — because they’re so packed with healthy fats and nutrients, a little bit goes a long way. A small handful, or about 1.5 ounces a day, is all you need to reap the benefits.

Keep in mind, too, that healthiest nuts are perishable and easily damaged by heat, air and light. This is especially true for nuts that contain omega-3 fats, such as walnuts.

To ensure your healthiest nuts are as fresh as can be, avoid purchasing them from bulk bins unless you know they have a high turnover rate, and do not leave healthiest nuts sitting in a hot car. Once home, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or even the freezer.

Further, due to their perishable nature, healthiest nuts that have been roasted using oil may contain rancid or damaged fats that are not healthy for your heart. For best results, look for healthiest nuts that are either raw or only lightly roasted (at temperatures no higher than 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit).17

Now that you’re armed with the latest research, you no longer have to worry that the handful of healthiest nuts you crave is sabotaging your diet. On the contrary, a serving of healthiest nuts a day may very well help to keep the doctor away!


Sources:
1. MayoClinic.com, “Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health” June 5, 2009
2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Appendix D: Qualified Health Claims April 2008
3. World’s Healthiest Foods, Walnuts
4. Harvard School of Public Health, “The Nutrition Source”
5. Ellagic-research.org Clinical References
6. Nutrition. 2005 Sep;21(9):920-4.
7. Journal of Nutrition. 136:2987-2992, December 2006
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