The short answer is that there is no best nut anymore than there is a best fruit, best vegetable or best bean. Each type of nut has a unique array of nutrients and phytonutrients. Enjoy them all for what they have to offer. They are all “the best nut.”
Today’s media climate is all about best foods and superfoods. The Internet and news blurbs scream that one food or another is the magic shield to keep you young, strong and disease-free. But just like with other food groups, there is no single nut that reigns supreme. I wrote about 5 common nuts and their health benefits for Environmental Nutrition. That article has been republished by the Chicago Tribune. You can read all about almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts in my article. Below are a few highlights from the article and some additional tips.
In general, eating nuts is linked to less type 2 diabetes, healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smaller waist circumference, better blood pressure levels, less insulin resistance and more. Want to know what else you can eat to help prevent type 2 diabetes? Check out Add These Foods to Your Prediabetes Diet. And remember, what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. So it’s smart to eat nuts.
- Nuts are an important part of many healthy eating patterns, such as a Mediterranean-style diet and plant-based diets.
- Eating almonds in place of less healthful foods can improve cholesterol levels and might even help the way HDL-cholesterol functions. Eating just 23 almonds can give you 50% of the recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin E.
- Just one Brazil nut a day can keep selenium deficiency away. A single nut offers more than the recommended daily intake of this antioxidant mineral.
- Though not a true nut, the peanut has a similar nutrient profile and offers health benefits comparable to other nuts. And they are typically more affordable. Peanut allergies can be quite serious. Fortunately, new research finds a method to reduce a child’s risk for developing a peanut allergy. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to learn when and how to introduce peanuts into your child’s diet.
- Pecans are native to America! And they’re packed with the same types of phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables and freshly brewed tea.
- Pistachios pack a mere 3 calories per nut. Plus they offer up lutein and zeaxanthin, two cousins of beta-carotene, which appear to protect both the eye and the brain.
- Walnuts uniquely provide ALA, an important omega-3 fatty acid. I was at a sponsored conference when I first learned that walnuts may also help protect against colon cancer and have other beneficial effects in the gut. Here’s How to Throw a Dinner Party for Your Gut Bacteria.
Enjoy Nuts Daily – They’re All the Best Nut
There are so, so many ways to eat and love nuts. Here are just a few tips to love the heck out of every best nut.
- Top green vegetables with toasted cashews. Cashews have a unique buttery taste, so add a few to any dish calling for both crunch and butter flavor.
- Toss any favorite nut into side dishes such as rice, quinoa and barley as well as fruit salads and green salads for a crunchy boost of nutrition.
- Mix walnuts or pecans into batter for banana bread, zucchini bread, bran muffins and pancakes.
- Snack on pistachios in the shell, and place the empty shells in a dish in front of you to keep an eye on portion control.
- Add chopped nuts to chicken salad.
- Sprinkle roasted peanuts over some Asian dishes like this Asian-Inspired Barramundi.
- Fill mushroom caps with diced nuts and wild rice.
- Slip a toasted pecan and some honey-drizzled goat cheese into a large date.
- Grind nuts in a food processor to make “nut crumbs.” Sprinkle them over casseroles like you would bread crumbs.
- Roll these Sweet Potato Balls in chopped walnuts or pecans.
- Love the heck out of these Chocolate Oat Peanut Butter Balls.
And finally, here’s one of my favorite desserts with benefits. I eat 6 or 7 chocolate-covered almonds nearly daily. Yep, Every. Single. Day.
Your turn! What’s a favorite way to eat health-boosting nuts.