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On a plant based diet, or any healthy diet, nuts are a great snack option. Most nuts are higher in fats, so a small handful a couple of times a week is optimal. And nuts are an ideal source of fiber and protein.
Nuts contain other important and beneficial nutrients. Read on for the 5 healthiest nuts to eat, to receive the most from your snack.
Overall, nuts are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats along with omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. They also deliver vitamins and minerals.
In spite of their higher fat content, nuts have many health benefits. Studies have shown that nuts help to prevent diseases and may even prolong life by reducing the risks of some types of cancers.
Here are the 5 healthiest nuts to eat.
Walnuts are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They are also a significant contributor of protein, fiber, vitamin E, melatonin and magnesium. Walnuts also contain a plant compound called polyphenols that reduce inflammation throughout the body, which in turn lowers the risk of many diseases, including cancer.
Walnuts also reduce bad LDL cholesterol while boosting good HDL cholesterol. They also contribute to better heart health, regulated blood pressure and increased blood flow through the circulatory system.
Additionally, walnuts are considered brain food. Eating walnuts increases cognitive function and reasoning abilities.
Almonds provide a significant amount of protein, fiber, vitamin E and magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and iron.
This tree nut improves cholesterol levels and supports heart health. Its high fiber content aids in weight loss and lowers blood pressure. And consuming a few almonds during a meal helps to regulate blood sugar levels that can rise after eating, in people with diabetes. For those with type 2 diabetes, almonds can lower inflammation.
Almonds also improve gut health by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
This popular green nut, typically packaged still in its shell, is high in fiber and protein and provides vitamin E and magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorous.
As with walnuts and almonds, pistachios improve cholesterol levels. Eating just a couple of ounces of pistachios a day also increases good HDL cholesterol. Additionally, pistachios decreases the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and help maintain a healthy weight. Their antioxidant properties prevent oxidative damage to cells.
And pistachios help to keep blood sugar levels down after a meal.
Cashews have a creamy texture, making them perfect for baking and vegan sauce making. They are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamin E and calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Cashews also provide antioxidant properties.
This tree nut reduces blood pressure, improves blood lipid levels and increases good HDL cholesterol.
Nutritious hazelnuts have a distinctive flavor. They are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin E and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
They lower the risk of heart disease and reduce bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Hazelnuts ease inflammation throughout the body and improve overall blood vessel health. Additionally, they increase the amount of vitamin E in the blood.
Ways to Benefit from Nuts
Try including nuts in your diet, in these ways:
- combine them with unsweetened raisins, dried cranberries, unsweetened dried coconut and seeds to make a homemade trail mix
- drink nut milks such as cashew milk, almond milk or hazelnut milk
- use sugar free nut butters that only contain nuts and a small amount of sea salt
- add raw nuts to salads
- use in baking recipes
- make vegan sauces from cashews
- eat plain, as a snack
- make your own vegan cheeses and milks, from nuts
Remember to enjoy nuts in moderation, due to their fat content. Eat a small handful at a time or include in recipes on days scattered throughout the week. And check out some of my favorite recipes below, that include healthy nuts.
Favorite Recipes Using Nuts
Dairy Free Potato Soup with Cashew Sauce
Raw Blueberry Pie with Cashew Crust
Vegan Banana Blueberry Bread with Walnuts
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