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Healthy Snacking : All About Nuts

Updated on March 5, 2015
anglnwu profile image

A certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits and how to keep weight in check,

Nuts make healthy snacks.

courtesy of richardshealthmusings.com
courtesy of richardshealthmusings.com

© All Rights Reserved

Whether you’re nuts about nuts or you’re a nutcase (no, not the certified kind) of nut proportion, nuts are a healthy and perfectly sane choice for snacks. It is true that they are high in fat content but health experts will tell you that the kind of fats found in nuts are heart-friendly. According to Mayo clinic, nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids, amongst other beneficial nutrients, that can help lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), notably known as “bad” cholesterol in the blood. In addition, nuts can reduce risks of developing blood clots (main culprits for inducing heart attacks) and improve the health of the lining of the arteries.

More studies, cited by John Livesey, PhD, of the Department of Endocrinology of Christchurch Hopsital, reveal even more health benefits. Nuts can reduce risks of developing type 2 diabetes, dementia, advanced macular degeneration and the development of gallstones. If you’re wondering how a bunch of pebble-sized nuts (some smaller or bigger) can exert such health benefits, take a look that their nutritional profile. Though not all nuts have the same nutrients, collectively they present a formidable front against the devastatingly effects of ill health.

If you’re not already of nut lover, why not start romancing this health group of superfoods. If you’re allergic to nuts, then don’t even try. We don’t want any fatal attraction here. I naturally love nuts and will eat any kind of nuts, though some are higher up on my favorite nut list. Here are my top 7 favorite nuts:

Almond Joy!

courtesy of webmd.com
courtesy of webmd.com

Almonds

Crack open the pit of an almond fruit and you’ll find the gem—the almond nut that is quite the favorite of nut lovers. It is also the favorite of dietetians for obvious reasons. Compared to most nuts, almonds have fewer calories and pack more fiber and calcium. A quarter cup almonds yields 205 calories, but of course, we’ll practice some restraint and just stick to a handful.

In addition to healthy fats, it has high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. It also has high quantities of magnesium, nature’s calcium channel blocker. What can magnesium do? When the body has enough magnesium, it improves the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body. Conversely, the lack of magnesium can lead to heart problem.

According to Dr. Cyril Kendall from the University of Toronto, eating almonds can help to manage blood glucose level: “We found that eating two servings of almonds can have a significant impact on blunting the glycemic and insulin responses of the body when fed with a meal high in carbohydrates.”

Cashews

courtesy of nutsonline.com
courtesy of nutsonline.com

Cashews

These inflated crescents  are absolutely my favorite munchies. Buttery and yet delicate, cashews are a great substitute for those who absolutely hate spinach. You can get 10 percent of your daily iron from a single serving of cashews. Compared to other nuts, they have relatively lower fat content and 75% of their fat is unsaturated fats. Specifically, the healthy fat found in cashews is oleic acid, the same kind found in olives and avocados.

Oleic acid, also known as omega 9 fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat. It promotes cardiovascular health, lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides (another form of ugly unhealthy fat) and fights cancer.

Regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Carribbean, cashews are significant sources of copper, magnesium, phosphorus (for strong bones and teeth) and zinc which is essential in regulating digestion and metabolism. They are also a good source of folate and vitamin K, both of which help keep bones strong and help blood clot normally.

Macademias--in the shell, out of the shell.

courtesy of timeoutsydney.com.au
courtesy of timeoutsydney.com.au

Health report that gives you even more reason to go nuts...

Macadamia

If you ask my husband, he would tell you that he used macadamias as his bait. I paid him no attention until he showed up with cans of Hawaiian Macadamia nuts. But that’s a little personal detour, we’ll come right back to the topic.

Although Macadamia has one of the highest fat content of most nuts, the oil is 84% monounsaturated. Further good news-- macademia is also one of the few plants that contains palmiteoleic acid, otherwise known as omega 7, a friendly monounsaturated fat that helps to lower cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of heart diseases. And if you think the fat content is going to pad your middle, some studies suggest that palmitoleic acid helps to regulate your metabolism, curb your appetite and help to burn fat faster. Now, who could have thought? A natural diet snack!

One cup of macadamia nuts covers over 100% of your daily thiamin requirements, though one cup may be too much to eat in a single day. Other nutrients include riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6,   vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.

Brazil nuts--high in selenium.

courtesy of synchronicityhouse.co.uk
courtesy of synchronicityhouse.co.uk

Brazil Nuts

The sumo nut of nuts, the Brazil nut is pudgy and gruff with patchy exterior that speaks of “diamond-in-rough” persona. However, its high level of selenium makes up for any lack of exterior charm. A 28g serving of Brazil nuts contains a whopping 640 mg of selenium. And what is selenium good for? Selenium is an antioxidant, a mineral crucial for thyroid health and plays an important role in fighting cancer and promoting good skin (aids skin elasticity) and healthy hair.

Other redeeming qualities include zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron. In addition, Brazil nut is a complete protein in itself, containing all eight essential amino acids needed for good health.

Pine Nuts

Across the spectrum, we have the petite, pint-sized pine nuts. As the name suggests, they come from pine cones and have to be extracted by hands, hence the hefty price. Most commonly associated with pesto sauce, a specialty coffee is also made from them, called Pinon, noted for its deep, nutty flavor.

These diminutive nuggets pack quite a punch. Loaded with dietary fiber, they are nature’s only source of pinoleic acid, which helps to stimulate hormones and curb appetite. They also have the highest concentration of oleic acid. One serving of pine nuts yields 3 mg of iron, a key component of hemoglobin, the oxygen counterpart that supplies energy.

Other nutrients include vitamin K, vitamin E, manganese (works with the development of connective tissues, bones, insulin regulation and maintaining healthy cholesterol), magnesium, copper, zinc and phosphorus.

Pine nuts on pizza--why not?

courtesy of gimmesomeoven.com
courtesy of gimmesomeoven.com

Half the fun in eating pistachios is cracking them.

courtesy of webmd.com
courtesy of webmd.com

Pistachios

If you like Baklava, you probably have a soft spot for pistachios. Relatively low in fat content compared to other nuts, pistachios go beyond protecting heart health and fighting cancer. Researchers noted in the Journal of Nutrition that “pistachios are high in lutein, beta-carotene and gamma-tocopherol relative to other nuts.”

What does that translate in terms of health benefits.? Lutein is an antioxidant, found in dark green leafy vegetables that is important in promoting good vision and healthy skin. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A and gamma-tocopherol is a common form of vitamin E. The mega-power of vitamin A and E are well-established and you can read more here.

Walnuts--nourish your brain with these.

courtesy of grit.com
courtesy of grit.com

Walnuts

I call them brain food and if you examine them, you will find grooves and ridges that rather resemble the brain matter. Okay, maybe the shriveled version. Still, that correlation may be right—walnuts are known for its high levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acid. A quarter cup serving of walnuts provides 90.8% of the daily value for these essential fats. These fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and help to fight asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

But that’s not all. Walnuts also contain ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant that improves the immune system and fights cancer. In addition, they boost relatively high levels of l-arginine, an essential amino acid that combats hypertension. L-arginine converts to nitric oxide in the body, a chemical that helps to keep the blood vessels smooth and free from nasty cholesterol built-up. Since hypertension patients have a harder time maintaining nitric oxide levels, adding walnuts to their diet can help them better manage the condition.

So, let’s go grab a handful. They are best when eaten out of the hands. You can also toss them with your favorite dried fruits, mini-chocolate chips (and others) to make your own trail mix. Bag them and carry them around, just in case you’re hungry and you’re tempted to coax some unhealthy snacks out of the vending machines.

Comments

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  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 2 years ago

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Renee21!

  • renee21 profile image

    renee21 2 years ago

    I love nuts! They're so yummy! I especially like Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds. Great hub!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 6 years ago

    Thanks, saif113sb.

  • saif113sb profile image

    saif113sb 6 years ago

    Very nice and interesting hub nuts. thank you so much.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Thanks, drpastorcarlotta, glad you can stop by to comment. Blessings to you too and many thanks for voting.

  • drpastorcarlotta profile image

    Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

    Hello anglnwu and Blessings! Your right, nuts are good! I love them!! The carb content is GREAT! Thank you for explaining each one. When you get a chance, come visit me. Be Blessed!!!! Voted useful!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    dallas, we're one of a kind--the nuttest! Thanks for dropping by.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    I am "nuts" about nuts.. Great hub with great information. Thanks for sharing.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Sage, you can say that I caught u at the right moment. Care to share your nuts, 'cos I love munching on nuts too? Nuts are my favorite snack and I usually pair them with fruits or dried fruits. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Sage Williams profile image

    Sage Williams 7 years ago

    anglnwu - Funny that I should stumble upon this as I am sitting here munching on a handful of almonds. Nuts are one of my favorites. I do believe that you are correct; a handful a day helps to lower cholesterol. And I am sure that I have a handful a day.

    Great job, you named all of my favorite nuts.

    Sage

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Thanks, Mezo. Good to see u again.

  • Mezo profile image

    Motaz 7 years ago from Egypt

    I love them all :) nice hub :)

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    habee, so good to see u here. Miss your hubs. Thanks for dropping by.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    I've traded my chips for nuts! Informative hub!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Listlady, I'm glad eating nuts is now cool, even with the health authorities. You're right, nuts are definitely a healthier option than snacking on empty calories loaded with saturated fats. Thanks for dropping by and rating it up.

  • TheListLady profile image

    TheListLady 7 years ago from New York City

    Great hub, great information! I love nuts. It's a shame that we were told for so long that nuts were unhealthy - imagine that, because of calories. Here is a food with healthy calories that satisfies - rather than all the junk we've been steered too with empty calories.

    You've covered everything and so beautifully.

    Rated up. Thanks a million.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Jill, thanks for dropping by. OK, we've one more thing in common--we're both nutty! And we're not ashamed to say so--we're cool nuts. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for rating it up.

  • jill of alltrades profile image

    jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

    I love nuts of all kinds! I guess you can say I am nutty both literally and figuratively! Hahaha!

    Thanks for this very informative hub my friend! Rated up and useful!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Vera, I'm with you regarding nuts--i'm totally nutty. My only problem with eating lots of nuts--i get a sore throat but that doesn't stop me from munching on them. Thanks for dropping by with your wonderful comments.

  • ReuVera profile image

    ReuVera 7 years ago from USA

    I am nuts about nuts. I eat huts until my moth hurts. I'd just wish nuts were less expensive....

    Great info and voted up, as usual. Shame on me, but some of the nuts I was eating without knowing their English name :), like Brazil nuts :)

    I love Pine nuts, this love is from Russia yet. My favorites, of course, are roasted Almonds.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Tim-tim, good to see u here. If you call it rabbit food, I'm a squirrel then. I snack like a squirrel--nuts and fruits. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • tim-tim profile image

    Priscilla Chan 7 years ago from Normal, Illinois

    I love nuts and call that rabbit food. It is good for us though. Thank you for the great hub!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Om, that makes the two of us--nutty and loving it. Always great to hear from u and now, Ommage to Nuts!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Lady E. good to see u again.I've always been nutty. Thanks for dropping by. Now, go try some macademias--they're lovely.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Pam, always good to see u. Glad you're not allergic to all nuts. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    I am nuts! I mean I love nuts hehehe. This is an awesome hub. Going nuts is a way to live a good life. ;-)

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thanks for a lovely informative Hub on Nuts. First time I've heard of Macadamia. I love nuts. I've always been Nutty. :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Great hub on nuts. Unfortunately I am allergic to almonds but I can love all the rest. Thanks for the great information.

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    MG, I'm glad it's officially recommended too. I love nuts and like you, i eat them for my mid-afternoon snack and sometimes, before I go to sleep because I do enjoy eating so much. Appreciate your continual support and enjoy your weekend!

  • anglnwu profile image
    Author

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    jay, you know i'm always very happy to see u. Thanks for your support and hope to see u around.

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

    Great job, I prefer the mixed nuts at the top of the page; that way you get a little variety of them all. I was so glad when officials started seeing the value of nuts, instead of telling everyone to stay away from them like they did for so many years. I usually have a small amount of nuts as a MUFA for an afternoon snack. Rating up and awesome. :)

  • jayb23 profile image

    jayb23 7 years ago from India

    A v informative hub indeed anglnwu. Bookmarked it for future readings again. Keep up the good work and keep en lighting us.