Five Reasons You Should Be Eating Nuts

June 18, 2014

Nuts are loaded with fiber, nutrients, heart healthy fats and taste great, yet many of us avoid them for fear of calories and fat - find out here why you need not be afraid!

Nuts are loaded with fiber, nutrients, heart healthy fats and taste great. But still many of us are avoiding nuts for fear of calories and fat. Fear not! Nuts can and should be a part of your diet for a variety of reasons. The most important, come from two recently published large studies. Both demonstrated that nut eaters live longer than non-nut eaters and have a lower incidence of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. Here are five fun facts about nuts you need to know:

Walnuts are the only nut that contains omega-3 fatty acids! One quarter cup provides 90 percent of the RDA for omega 3s known to benefit heart health, cognitive function, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, psoriasis and are anti-inflammatory. Walnuts also contain ellagic acid, which supports the immune system, and may even fight cancer.  High in l-arginine, an essential amino acid; walnuts are very high in antioxidants, boost bone health, and are rich in melatonin to aid sleep. Just 4 walnuts a day can be beneficial.

Wonder why you’ll never find cashews in the shell? … it’s because the shell can actually hurt you. Cashews are in the same plant family as poison ivy and poison sumac and their itchy oil is contained almost entirely in the shell of the nut. That's why you find cashews sold out of the shell. Eating cashews may help you ward off, or manage diabetes by helping to stimulate blood sugar absorption by muscle cells, according to a 2010 study.   

Pistachios are actually a fruit. Why are they green? Because they are rich in chlorophyll, the same green pigment found in spinach, kale and other produce. Pistachios are rich in B vitamins, copper, iron, and magnesium, and consumption has been linked to increased antioxidants in the blood, improved heart health and may even decrease your risk for lung cancer.

Peanuts aren't nuts at all, they're legumes. And guess what else -- in addition to a prenatal pill pregnant women should be including them in their pregnancy diet. A 2013 study in the Journal Pediatrics found that moms who ate peanuts and other tree nuts during their pregnancy had children with a significantly lower incidence of nut allergies. Peanuts are great for the heart, antioxidant rich, and are rich in biotin, folate, niacin, protein and more.

Brazil nuts are antioxidant powerhouses!  They are high in selenium, a mineral that has been found to be effective in the fight against prostate cancer. A key point in the selenium cancer connection lies in the source – food is best! Enjoy a few every day as a mid-morning snack to get all the selenium you need without going overboard.

Finally, to get the most out of your nutty diet, enjoy in moderation. They are still loaded with fat (even though most of that is healthy fat) and calories. That means that having a snack of nuts every day is great for controlling your weight, optimizing your health and increasing your feelings of satisfaction. It’s best to avoid nuts that are flavored- such as beer nuts, honey glazed and candied varieties and pay attention to the oils that are used - look for raw or dry roasted.