Nuts: They’re a health food, right? A good source of fat, a superfood even. Or so you have been told.
The thing about nuts is they ARE healthy, but there are two important things to note:
- It’s WAY TOO EASY to overeat in nuts. As someone who can get through an entire Costco tin of macademia nuts in three days if you let me, I know how easy it is to continue to shovel macadamia nuts, or pistachios, into your mouth like popcorn at the movies, only to realize you have consumed two-days worth of fat macros in one sitting.
Let’s address this one first: One cup of nuts is not a snack. A handful of nuts is. So as a rule, keep your nut portions as a small handful per sitting, not an entire bag!
- All nuts are not created equal. Some are much better for you than others.
Here are some of the best nuts out there:
- ALMONDS for the bones
Almonds are known to help with bone and teeth strength because they have phosphorus in them.
- WALNUTS for the brain and the heart
Walnuts have been shown to increase cognition—specifically they help with what’s called inferential reasoning. There is also evidence from a study from Yale University (http://www.griffinhealth.org/about/news-releases/post/7512/a-walnut-a-day-walnuts-improve-blood-flow-in-adults-with-diabetes) that they’re good for your heart as they promote low blood pressure and good blood flow, especially in those with diabetes. As an added bonus, walnuts are also high in fibre and in protein—15 g of protein in 100 g of walnuts (in comparison, macadamia nuts have only 8 g of protein per 100 g and pecans have 9 g)—so they keep you feeling full, making you potentially less likely to “oversnack.”
Brazil nuts for baby-making
Because they’re high in a mineral called selenium—which is known to help with sperm motility—it is believed Brazil nuts are good for reproductive efforts. Selenium is also good for kidney health, as well as immune and thyroid function.
Cashews for blood pressure
A study from North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa discovered that cashews help improve blood pressure in those with metabolic syndrome, while another study from the same university showed that they help increased antioxidant capacity (meaning they’re cancer-fighting nuts).
Macademia Nuts for the heart
Not only are these the tastiest nut in my opinion, they help reduce the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) and increase your good cholesterol (HDL). They’re also high in flavonoids, which transform into antioxidants in our body. On top of this, they have anti-inflammatory substances and are thought to help with blood pressure. All of the above means they’re great heart-health nuts.
Pecans for PMS
Ladies with menstrual problems: Pecans are the nut for you. They have manganese, which helps stop those horrible cramps. Like many of the other nuts, they’re also useful in the antioxidant department.
Hazelnuts for more than tasty Nutella!
Many people think of that delicious chocolatey spread when they think about hazelnuts (which are also called filberts). But they do more than this. Hazelnuts help increase the Vitamin E in your blood, a key vitamin for promoting healthy skin, hair and nails. Vitamin E might also help with dementia and Alzheimer’s, so keep on eating those hazelnuts.
So when it comes to nuts, what’s NOT SO good?
They’re not really nuts. Unlike almonds and walnuts etc, which grow on trees, peanuts grow underground, putting them in the class of being a legume, as opposed to a nut.
They’re known to increase your bad cholesterol (LDL), and they’re high in lectins, which aren’t good for your intestines or your gut and can lead to all sorts of digestive and autoimmune problems. Read more here: (https://paleoleap.com/beans-and-legumes/)
AVOID ANY FLAVORED NUTS!
But those honey roasted nuts taste so good!
I know, but any nuts with added flavors are usually full of sugar or other chemicals. It’s best to buy plain raw nuts and then roast them and salt them yourself if you feel they’re too boring on their own.
IF YOU’RE LOW CARB, AVOID CASHEWS!
If you’re limiting your carbs, it’s best to eat nuts higher in fat and protein and lower in carbs.
Cashews are highest in carbs (16.8 grams per 100 grams) while Brazil nuts are lowest (2.4 grams per 100 grams). The other nuts fall somewhere in the middle. See the full carb content in all the nuts here: (https://theproteinbreadco.com.au/top-10-low-carb-nuts-definitive-list/)
And finally, remember the golden rule: One handful is enough!