Dietitians and nutritionists generally recommend nuts as a healthy snack, because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein. These small powerhouses can get you through the few hours before dinner when your tummy is rumbling. Like with everything else, moderation is key, because although they are healthy, they are high in fat and calories; and if you eat too many of them, you’ll ruin your appetite. It’s important to note that nuts are healthy in their raw form, add any sugar or salt to them and they lose their nutritious value. So, which nuts should you have and which nuts should you avoid? Let’s break it down.
Almonds, cashews and pistachios are a great choice when looking for healthy nuts, as they have the lowest calories. Almonds especially, are a favorite among nut eaters as they have more calcium than any other nut. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants such as phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids, fiber and vitamin E. Cashews are a good source of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc and have a lot of protein as well, making them an excellent choice for snacking. Pistachios are also great, because they are high in vitamin E, lutein and beta-carotene; but keep in mind to look for organic pistachios because most of them are bleached or treated chemically and you could potentially ingest harmful residues. Pistachios have numerous health benefits where they have lowered cholesterol, reduced blood pressure and have helped people lose weight.
Keep in mind that most nuts should be eaten in moderation due to their high protein content. Excess protein in your diet can lead to numerous health problems, such as high blood sugar, weight gain, kidney problems and leaching of bone minerals. It is easy to do this if you eat a few handful of high protein nuts, so just be careful not to overdo it.
On the flip side, although these aren’t “bad” nuts, macadamia nuts and pecans have the most calories, the highest fat, lowest protein and carb content of any other nut. Even so, raw macadamia nuts do have healthy nutrients, as they have high amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including magnesium, heart healthy oleic acid, manganese and phenolic antioxidants. In addition, if you’re ever feeling tired and lethargic, pecans are the perfect option, as they are a good source of vitamin B3 which helps us access the energy in our food.
The popular belief surrounding nuts is that nuts are fattening. Well, they are, but most of it is heart-healthy fats which can actually help you maintain your ideal weight over time. They are a great source of minerals and vitamins and should definitely be among your go-to snacks. Try to eat those nuts that are low in saturated fat content and sometimes indulge in those that are high in fat content to maintain a balanced diet. And again, do not eat too many of them, as they are most beneficial in small quantities.