We’ve always heard that nuts are full of fat, but after several studies, researchers have discovered that adding a handful of these eight kinds of nuts to your daily diet will provide even a couch potato with the health benefits needed to lower cholesterol and lose weight.
The list below contains additional health benefits, as well as calorie and fat information per ounce from lowest to the highest.
1. Pistachios have been reported to have the highest level of LDL-lowering plant sterols. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found pistachios are a great source of potassium. (160 calories, 13 g fat)
2. Pine nuts are high in vitamin K and E, and they contain pinolenic acid, which is shown to curb appetites in women by increasing secretion of satiety hormones. However, Joel Fuhrman, M.D., reported on his website (see below), Mediterranean pine nuts are much lower in calories than other pine nuts. (160 calories, 13 g fat)
3. Almonds are high in vitamin E, protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, minerals and other nutrients. (160 calories, 14 g fat)
4. Peanuts are actually legumes, even though they have ‘nut’ in the name. Peanuts provide more protein (7 grams per serving) than true nuts do. They are good sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate and manganese. In addition, peanuts provide resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes and red wine. (170 calories, 14 g fat)
5. Hazelnuts are loaded with folate, a vitamin that protects against birth defects and possibly cancer and heart disease. (180 calories, 17 g fat)
6. Brazil nuts help with the body's thyroid hormones, which keep your body’s metabolism high. A high metabolism helps your body burn off additional fat during exercise. (185 calories, 18.8 g fat)
7. "Walnuts are the best kind of nut for heart-healthy antioxidants," according to a recent article in ScienceDaily. They are also known to prevent blood clots. "Walnuts are great because they have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids," American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell, M.S., R.D., said. "Other nuts don't." (190 calories, 18 g fat)
8. Pecans, although the highest in calories of all nuts, have the same amount of protein as an ounce of red meat. They are also a rich source of oleic acid, the same type of fatty acid found in olive oil. (200 calories, 20 g fat)
A study from the Loma Linda University in California reported that people who ate nuts daily had up to 60 percent fewer heart attacks than those who ate nuts less than once per month. Just make sure you don't overdo it.
Reviewed July 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle