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Go Nuts: The Health Benefits of Nuts

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long ago, in the fat phobic era, when we were fed the idea that all fat is bad, nuts became severely unappreciated. In the present dieting age, the health benefits of nuts and certain "good fats" are becoming more apparent. Good fats are the new super-nutrients, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even weight gain. Nuts are not only premier sources of these disease preventing unsaturated fats, but are also rich in protein, fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E and a wide range of minerals. So if a healthy, balanced diet is what you are after, consider including these top 10 nutritional powerhouses in your daily diet. They truly are all they’re cracked up to be. Outlined here are the nutritional contents and health benefits of nuts.

1. ALMONDS

164 calories, 14.6g fat (1.4 saturated, 3.1 polyunsaturated, 9.5 monounsaturated) per 28g portion or 23 nuts

Often referred to as “The King of Nuts”, they are great sources of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, protein and fibre and are one of the richest nut sources of healthy monounsaturated fats. Almonds also contain a special cancer fighting chemical called laetrile and cancer clinics around the world recommend 10 raw almonds a day to their patients.

2. PISTACHIOS

170 calories, 12.6g fat (1.5 saturated, 4 polyunsaturated, 4 monounsaturated) per 28g or 47 nuts

Pistachios are the richest source of potassium of all the nut family. The potassium content of 28g of pistachios is equal to that of one orange, a whopping 310 mg. One serving gets you more than 10% of RDA for dietary fibre, vitamin B6, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper.

3. HAZELNUTS

179 calories, 17.2g fat (1.3 saturated, 1.7 polyunsaturated, 14 monounsaturated) per 28g or 21 nuts

Hazelnuts boast one of the highest proportions of monounsaturated fats and are very low in saturated fats. Hazelnuts provide a high-quality source of protein, fibre and vitamin E. They are also a rich source of folate and vitamin B-6, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

4. CASHEWS

160 calories, 13g fat (2.6 saturated, 2.2 polyunsaturated, 7.6 monounsaturated) per 28g or 46 halves

Cashews are the winner for zinc content, with a 28g portion giving you almost 100 percent of your RDA. They also provide 69 percent of the RDA for copper and 27 percent for magnesium. Cashew nuts are also a good source of potassium, B vitamins and folate and are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids.

5. PEANUTS

159 calories, 13.8g fat (1.9 saturated, 4.4 polyunsaturated, 6.8 monounsaturated) per 28g or 46 halves

Not a nut as such, the peanut is actually a legume, making it the best protein source of all the nuts. Peanuts are rich in folate, iron and are also great sources of monounsaturated fats. The latest findings about peanuts show that they contain resveratrol-a phytochemical (also found in red wine and grape juice) that is associated with a lowered risk of heart disease. The red skin found on Spanish peanuts is a concentrated source of resveratrol.

6. WALNUTS

185 calories, 18.5g fat (1.6 saturated, 11 polyunsaturated, 4 monounsaturated) per 28g or 14 halves

Walnuts are a top source of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. One 28g serving contains more than 100 percent of your daily need for this heart healthy fat. In addition, walnuts offer protein, fibre, magnesium, manganese and copper. They also contain ellagic acid-a flavonoid, also found in several types of berries, that has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

7. PINE NUTS

160 calories, 14g fat (2 saturated, 6 polyunsaturated, 5 monounsaturated) per 28g or 150 nuts

Pine nuts are a good source of iron, containing almost 3 milligrams in a 28g serving. They’ll also give you a hearty dose of zinc and are relatively low in calories when compared to other nuts.

8. PECANS

196 calories, 20.4g fat (2 saturated, 6 polyunsaturated, 12 monounsaturated) per 28g or 20 halves

Just 28g of pecans has more zinc than a 100g piece of skinless chicken and gives you 16 percent of your RDA. They’re also a great source of copper, with one serving offering 38 percent of

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your RDA. Pecans are a good source of fibre too.

 

9. BRAZIL NUTS

184 calories, 18.5g fat (4.5 saturated, 6.8 polyunsaturated, 6.4 monounsaturated) per 28g or 46 halves

Brazil nuts are the leading source of the antioxidant mineral selenium, containing an amazing 640mg per 28g serving. They are also high in other minerals including zinc and magnesium, and contain useful amounts of phosphorous, copper and iron. Although their fatty acid ration is still good, Brazil nuts have a higher saturated fat content compared to other nuts.

10. MACADAMIAS

204 calories, 21.5g fat (2 saturated, 6 polyunsaturated, 5 monounsaturated) per 28g or 150 nuts

Macadamias are relatively high in calories compared to other nuts but provide a good source of monounsaturated fats, copper, thiamine, magnesium, and manganese.

Author: Ashleigh Caradas

* A copy of this article appeared in LONGEVITY MAGAZINE

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