Whether you are looking for a healthy convenient snack, a little extra crunch in your salad, or a nutrient boost in your morning smoothie, a serving of nuts may be the solution. While the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of nuts vary slightly, all tree nuts are nutrient dense and contain high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, and heart- healthy fats, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, and bioactive phytochemical compounds. Evidence has shown that the regular consumption of tree nuts may have beneficial effects on cognitive health and chronic disease prevention. Research suggests that adding a daily serving of nuts lowers the risk of developing chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and abdominal obesity, all symptoms of metabolic syndrome, that lies beneath the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nuts are nutrient-rich foods with wide-ranging cardiovascular and metabolic health benefits, which can readily be incorporated into healthy diets. While some may shy away from nuts due to the heavy fat content, epidemiological studies and clinical trials show that eating nuts is unlikely to contribute to weight gain and, when portions are limited to just a handful, may even support weight loss over time. Nuts are energy packed, nutrient dense, and filling, helping to suppress the appetite. Studies have shown those who incorporate nuts into their diet tend to weigh less than those who don’t and may have a lower risk of future weight gain. While there is no recommended daily intake (RDI) for nuts, the Linus Pauling Institute suggests that one ounce of nuts, five times per week, is all that’s needed to reap the benefits.
- Nuts provide important sources of tocopherols and phenolic compounds with potent antioxidant effects that help to fight oxidative stress and boost immunity.
- The nutrient content of nuts has been well documented to contribute to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and related metabolic disorders. Per the Physician’s Health Study, men who consumed nuts two or more times per week had a 47% reduced risk of sudden cardiac events.
- Nuts provide a significant amount of fiber, which supports a healthy gut and proper digestion.
- Consuming nuts helps to boost your healthy fat intake, which helps ease inflammation and supports proper brain function, healthy heart beat, lowered blood pressure, and improved blood vessel function.
- Studies have shown that nut consumption reduces systemic inflammation, as measured by well-established biomarkers of inflammation including C-reactive protein and interleukin 6.
- Minimally processed raw nuts, without salt or added flavorings, provide the most health benefits.
Almonds – In addition to protein, vitamin E and healthy fats, almonds are a good source of magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, copper, phosphorus, vitamin E and fiber. Almonds are high in anti-aging antioxidants and have been shown to help reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol. High magnesium levels may have significant benefits for healthy blood pressure.
Pistachios – Rich in plant stanols, polyphenols and flavonoids, pistachios provide phosphorus, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, thiamine and fiber. Pistachios have beneficial effects on risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, weight and oxidative status, and may help to improve cholesterol levels.
Walnuts – These heart healthy nuts are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Rich in antioxidant vitamin E, selenium, magnesium and phosphorus, manganese and copper, these brain shaped gems are associated with healthy cognitive function and are a natural source of melatonin.
Pecans – These southern favorites are a good source of manganese, copper, thiamine and fiber. Pecans provide vitamin E as gamma-tocopherol, and have a high flavonoid and polyphenol content. Along with these beneficial nutrients, pecans provide antioxidants and may help lower cholesterol levels.
Macadamias – Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of monosaturated fats, as well as manganese, thiamine, copper, and iron. Due to their high healthy fat content, macadamia nuts are considered heart-healthy by the American Heart Association, and have been shown to lower LDL and total cholesterol when incorporated into a heart healthy diet.
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The Wonders of Nuts and Seeds. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0316p22.shtml
Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Nuts & Seeds? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-eating-nuts-seeds-6701.html
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
The Top 9 Nuts to East for Better Health. https://authoritynutrition.com/9-healthy-nuts/