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Nuts are one of the very best snack foods. They combine great with a piece of fruit to make a perfectly rounded snack or make a great yogurt or salad topper.
Not all nuts are created equally though. Here are my top picks for the healthiest nuts around.
These are my absolute favorite. They contain a lot of antioxidants to protect you from cellular damage that can contribute to heart disease, cancer and premature aging.
Walnuts: Inflammation fighters!
In addition to containing the most antioxidants of all nuts, which help protect your body from the cellular damage that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging, walnuts are also the richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation. They’re an especially great way to get these healthy unsaturated fats if you’re not a fan of fish, where these types of fats are predominantly found.
A walnut snack may also turn around a bad day during that time of the month: The manganese they contain may reduce PMS symptoms.
Almonds: Good for your gut
Almonds contain the most fiber — about three grams per ounce — compared to other nuts, and are richest in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.
Almonds may even help you slip into those skinny jeans: In one International Journal of Obesity study, when two groups of obese adults followed low-calorie diets for six months, those who included almonds in their weight loss plans lost more weight than those who ate more complex carbohydrates.
Other research shows that almonds are especially healthy for people worried about their blood sugar: Those who ate about 20 percent of their calories from almonds for four months saw their bad LDL cholesterol drop and their insulin resistance decrease compared to a control group who didn’t eat them.
Almonds may even safeguard your gut: A test-tube study (funded by the Almond Board of California) found that the nuts raised levels of good bacteria that bolster the body’s immune
Brazil Nuts: Potent cancer protector
Just one Brazil nut packs more than 100 percent of the daily value for the mineral selenium, which may help prevent certain cancers, including bone, prostate, and breast cancer. A recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that the selenium found in Brazil nuts, along with soy, may help fight prostate cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells.
However, don’t overdo it on Brazil nuts: High levels of selenium can be harmful, so stick to a serving or less.
Macadamia Nuts: The most MUFAs
Although ounce for ounce they’re one of the most calorie-dense nuts, macadamia nuts contain the greatest amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (MUFA) per serving.
This ‘good fat’ lowers LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and blood pressure. A Pennsylvania State University study (funded partly by the Hershey Company, which owns the Mauna Loa Macademia company) found that people who added macadamia nuts to their diets reduced their triglyceride levels, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol by nearly 10 percent.
Pistachios: The skinniest nut
Pistachios are the most slimming nuts, with less than four calories each. Their shells make them especially dieting-friendly: Eating them in the shell automatically slows down your pace so the snack lasts longer and you eat less overall.
They may also help you breathe easier: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers found that eating two ounces of pistachios daily may reduce lung cancer risk. Pistachios are rich in the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a form of cancer-fighting vitamin E.
Pistachios are also packed with potassium, a mineral essential for a healthy nervous system and muscles, and are a good source of vitamin B6, which can lift your mood, fortify your immune system, and more.
Photos Credit: Wikipedia.org
Jacqueline Banks, who grew up in Casa de Campo, is a certified holistic health counselor and busy mother. Her focus is on helping other busy moms in all stages of motherhood keep themselves and families healthy and happy.
She uses natural and organic solutions to solve individual health problems and promote clean living.
Check out her website at: www.jacquelinebanks.com