(Health Secrets Newsletter) Delicious and wholesome nuts offer a world of health benefits, but many people avoid them due to concerns that the extra calories in nuts are potentially fattening. Such concerns could easily be addressed by substituting nuts for another menu item or else cutting down on other menu item portions. Cutting back on other food items may be easier than you think: recent studies have found that eating nuts actually helps curb appetite due to their ability to increase serotonin levels. Nuts also have plenty of fiber which makes you feel fuller.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and more and they offer a wide variety of health benefits, particularly for the heart and cardiovascular system. The plentiful fiber found in nuts is heart healthy and is thought to play a role in preventing diabetes. Nuts are also rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and they contain vitamin E, which may help stop the development of plaque in the arteries. Arterial plaque can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease, or a heart attack.
Nuts are a source of l-arginine, a substance that improves artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots. Some nuts also contain healthy plant sterols that can normalize cholesterol levels.
There are a lot of good choices when it comes to healthy nuts. Here are some of the best:
Walnuts may be considered the king of nuts for their health benefits, according to U.S. researchers. Walnuts contain the highest combination of more healthful and higher quality antioxidants. Antioxidants in walnuts were are to 15 times as potent as vitamin E – renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects which protect the body against free radical damage that causes disease. Reportedly, it only takes about seven walnuts a day to get their potential health benefits.
Many studies have demonstrated the health benefits of almonds. Almonds are high in antioxidants, are a good source of protein and have ample amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron as well as vitamin E. Like other nuts, almonds also provide a good source of monounsaturated fat – a good fat that is needed for heart health.
Brazil nuts are another must. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois suggested that Brazil nuts may play a vital role in preventing breast cancer. According to the scientists who carried out the study, this benefit is probably a result of the high amounts of selenium they contain.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize harmful free radicals that can attack healthy cells and increase the risk of serious conditions like heart disease and cancer – including breast, and lung, bowel, and prostate cancer.
Cashew nuts are a significant source of iron, which is essential for red blood cell function and enzyme activity. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
Even though peanuts are not certifiably nuts, their nutritional properties resemble that of actual nuts so closely that they are commonly referred to as nuts. Peanuts are a great source of concentrated protein. They are also rich in potassium and are packed with vitamins, especially niacin and other B vitamins. The vitamins in peanuts help maintain healthy skin, hair, and muscle tone.
Nut oils contain many, but not all, the benefits of raw nuts. Nut oils contain saturated as well as unsaturated fats. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, but lack the fiber found in whole nuts. Consider using nut oils in homemade salad dressing or in cooking. Nut oil, if overheated, can become bitter.
For the best health benefits, nuts should be organic and non-irradiated. Sprouted nuts are a great choice.
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