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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


A type of omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) is a healthy fat that can be used in the diet or as a supplement. GLA helps in the production of anti-inflammatory, hormone-like substances in the body which help keep the blood vessels open and reduce blood clotting.

Where do you find them? Sources of GLA include Evening Primrose oil and Borage oil- not something we usually take in the diet. A healthy body can use some of another omega-6 fatty acid called alpha-linoleic acid (found in margarines and sunflower oil) to produce GLA, but the reality is that many people do not produce enough GLA for their needs.

What to do? If you suffer from certain conditions such as heart disease, hormonal problems or attention deficit disorder, you may benefit from taking a GLA supplement along with an omega-3 supplement.


Even the healthiest of oils denature under extreme temperatures, rendering them useless and even harmful. Margarine, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil will all denature quickly when exposed to heat. Butter and olive oil are more stable in heat. The solution? Avoid frying as much as possible or use a little olive oil or butter for making stir-fry’s and stews. Also, make sure you choose oils that are “cold-pressed”.

The dangers of fried foods include increased cholesterol, increased cancer risk and risk of weight gain


Omega-3 fatty acids help us produce special chemicals which help the body resist illness by reducing inflammation. Getting your daily dose of omega-3’s helps support the healthy functioning of your immune, reproductive, nervous systems and heart and goes a long way to preventing diseases of lifestyle and even boosting your memory, concentration and intelligence. They also act as medicinal foods, helping to fight heart disease, arthritis and brain disorders.

Where do you find them? Best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, pilchards and sardines. Vegetable sources of omega 3’s include walnuts, flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds and hemp oil. Dark green vegetables like seaweed, broccoli, spinach and kale are a reasonable source of omega-3 essential fatty acids if eaten in large amounts.

What to do? Eat 3-5 servings of fatty fish per week, 2-3 of which should be fatty fish and add a heaped tablespoon of a mixture of flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds to your breakfast. Omega-3 supplements are also helpful either as a diet substitute or as an adjunct to dietary omega-3 intake.



Omega-6 fatty acids (also called alpha linoleic acid) are polyunsaturated fats, so they are not bad fats per se and when it replaces certain bad fats in the diet it can be beneficial. However,

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when the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is too high, problems occur. This essential fat is usually in ample supply in the typical diet, so we don’t typically need to concentrate on getting these in. Excess intake of omega 6 can actually trigger inflammatory responses and cause water retention, raised blood pressure and increased blood clotting.


Where do you find them? Omega 6 fatty acids are found in margarines, sunflower oil, mayonnaise, safflower oil and corn oil. Most commercial products use omega 6 fatty acids as they tend to be cheaper.

What to do? Include small amounts of alpha-linoleic acid in the diet, but ensure that you also increase the amount of omega-3’s that you consume.

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