Nuts about nuts? Best and worst kinds for health

Nuts are nature’s way of showing us that good things come in small packages. These bite-size nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

From our friends at Health.com, here’s a look at the pros and cons of different nuts, as well as the best and worst products on supermarket shelves today. Of course, you can get too much of these good things: Nuts are high in fat and calories, so while a handful can hold you over until dinner, a few more handfuls can ruin your appetite altogether. And although nuts are a healthy choice by themselves, they’ll quickly become detrimental to any diet when paired with sugary or salty toppings or mixes.

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Macadamias can cause vomiting, tremors, and even depression in dogs. In some cases, even a single handful of the nuts can weaken dogs’ hind legs.

Worst nuts for your diet

Macadamia Nuts, Pecans

Ounce for ounce, macadamia nuts (10 to 12 nuts; 2 grams protein, 21 grams fat) and pecans (18 to 20 halves; 3 grams protein, 20 grams fat) have the most calories – 200 each – along with the lowest amounts of protein and the highest amounts of fats.

However, they’re still good nuts: The difference between these and the lowest calorie nuts is only 40 calories an ounce. As long as you’re practicing proper portion control and not downing handfuls at a time, says Caplan, any kind of raw, plain nut will give you a good dose of healthy fats and nutrients.

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Carbohydrates can cause high levels of a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. For a healthier salad, replace your carbo-laden croutons with walnuts, which are high in polyunsaturated fat–a good fat that can lower LDL while boosting HDL (aka good cholesterol).

Best nuts for your heart

Walnuts

While all nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, walnuts (14 halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein) have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Research has suggested that ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal. The authors of this study, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, recommended eating around eight walnuts a day to achieve similar benefits.

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Studies show that the amino acid L-arginine is helpful for improving sexual function in men. L-arginine is used to make nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels. Preliminary studies have found that L-arginine may help with erectile dysfunction. Peanuts are a rich natural source of L-argininie.

Best nuts for your brain

Peanuts

Technically legumes but generally referred to as nuts, peanuts are high in folate – a mineral essential for brain development that may protect against cognitive decline. (It also makes peanuts a great choice for vegetarians, who can come up short on folate, and pregnant women, who need folate to protect their unborn babies from birth defects, says Caplan.) Like most other nuts, peanuts are also full of brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E, as well. One ounce of peanuts (about 28 unshelled nuts) contains about 170 calories, 7 grams protein, and 14 grams fat.

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Best nuts for men

Brazil Nuts, Pecans

Creamy Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. Just one nut contains more than a day’s worth, so eat these sparingly: Recent research has hinted that too much selenium may be linked to type 2 diabetes risk. One ounce of Brazil nuts (6 nuts) contains about 190 calories, 19 grams fat, and 4 grams protein.

Pecans are also good for men’s health: They’re loaded with beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate. One ounce of pecans (18 to 20 halves) contains about 200 calories, 21 grams fat, and 3 grams protein.

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Best nuts for disease prevention

Almonds

Relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health. Plus, they are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight dangerous inflammation and possibly health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.

Because they’re so versatile, almonds are often a favorite among nut eaters: You can buy them raw, toasted, slivered, or coated with a variety of fun flavors, from Wasabi & Soy Sauce to Lime ‘n Chili.

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Best nuts for chocolate lovers

Go for cocoa-dusted almonds

Rather than hiding your nuts under a thick layer of sugary chocolate candy – think Jordan almonds or peanut M&Ms – keep it simple with Cocoa Roast Almonds. These nuts are lightly dusted with cocoa powder and sweetened with Sucralose.

We’d give you a “worst” nuts for chocolate lovers, but the possibilities are practically endless. Just think of it this way, says Caplan: Anything that’s more chocolate than nut really should be considered candy – not as a way to get your daily quota of healthy fats.

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Best nuts for your sweet tooth

Try all-natural glazed nuts

Want something sweet and satisfying but without the extra calories and high-fructose corn syrup? Look no further than glazed nuts, in flavors like Almonds with Cranberries, Honey, and Sea Salt or Cashews with Pomegranate and Vanilla. They’re sweetened with organic cane juice and tapioca syrup, and each contains only 6 grams of sugar per ounce. Just be careful not to eat the whole bag!

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Best nuts for a salt craving

Look for ‘lightly salted’

If you don’t have high blood pressure or haven’t been warned away from salt by your doctor for other reasons, a handful or two of salted nuts a day won’t hurt you.

Nuts are, of course, available unsalted. But to satisfy a salty craving without going overboard, look for in-between varieties like Lightly Salted peanuts, almonds, and cashews, or Pistachios Lightly Salted . Check ingredient labels, too: Some brands, contain less salt than others.

New York, NY: Tasting Table, National, NTNL, Good Taste, GT, Equinox, Q, Trail Mix, nuts, snack

Best trail mix

Raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruit

Trail mix is available in countless varieties and from countless brands. Look for trail mix with raw nuts. Or if the nuts are roasted, look for the words ‘dry roasted’ rather than ‘oil roasted.’

Nuts pair great with fruit, seeds, and perhaps even a little dark chocolate; just pay attention to the calorie count and serving size.

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Best nut butter

Keep ingredients simple

When choosing a nut butter, look for spreads with the fewest ingredients possible: Just nuts (and salt, if you want). Organic Peanut Butter, for example, contains 100% dry-roasted peanuts. Creamy cashew and almond butters, also contain some natural canola oil. Keep natural peanut butter in the fridge, to keep it from going rancid and to prevent oily separation.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/media/nuts-about-nuts-best-and-worst-kinds-for-health/

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Get yours at your nearest Mopani Pharmacy today!

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