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The Best and Worst Nuts for Your Diet

Nuts can be a potent source of powerful nutrients ranging from healthy fats and proteins to essential vitamins and minerals. Some nuts are also high in calories and fat, so moderation is important if you want to reap the rewards without setting yourself up for other health issues. Get started with a general understanding of what nuts are good for your diet and which nuts are best skipped or enjoyed in moderation.

The Best

Nuts ranking among “the best” are those that are loaded with nutrients and low in calories. If you’re looking for nuts that pack this one-two punch, consider adding the following dried fruits to your diet:

  • Almonds: The nuts with the lowest calorie count, almonds are an excellent source of high-quality proteins and nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium and copper. Almonds are also rich in healthy unsaturated fatty acids, which helps with heart health.
  • Pistachios: Also ranking among the lower calorie nuts, pistachios are packed with potassium, protein and vitamins K and B-6. You’ll also get a decent chunk of your recommended daily intake of phosphorous and thiamine by consuming this nut. Having pistachios for a snack can also lower your cholesterol and, subsequently reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Cashews: These kidney-shaped seeds are noted for having a low-fiber content. These nuts are also chalk full of powerful antioxidants, minerals like zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper and vitamins B6, E and K. A British study on the health benefits of nuts suggests that cashews have strong cardio-protective benefits.

The Worst

Nuts ranking among “the worst” are ones that are bad for your diet in terms of calorie count. The following nuts also get points taken away for high fat content and nutrients that are lost when certain nuts are processed and packaged for consumption:

  • Macadamia Nuts and Pecans: Macadamia nuts and pecans rank among the highest-calorie nuts, making such nuts a bad choice if you’re dieting. These nuts are also low on healthy proteins, so “moderation” is the word to remember when enjoying either one of these nuts.
  • Tubbed/packaged Nuts: Packaged nuts (as in the kind you get on a plane, buy in vacuum-sealed cans or find along the checkout aisle) and nuts that come in tubs are best avoided due to how they’re prepared. Even if such nuts happen to be cashews, almonds and walnuts, added sugar and salt used for preservation and flavor cancel out most health benefits.
  • Roasted Nuts: Any nuts that have been roasted or heated are going to be unhealthy, especially if part of the preparation process includes hydrogenated (unhealthy) fats. The high temperatures used during the roasting process kills most nutrients.

Nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet while also serving as a tasty and reliable source of important nutrients. As a general rule, avoid packaged, processed or roasted nuts if you want to maintain your diet and get more than just added calories with little or no nutritional benefits. If you’re going to treat yourself to some nuts with little or no dietary or health benefits for an occasional burst of mouthwatering flavor beyond what you get from the nuts, the word to remember is “moderation.” Also know about types of hot water systems drink fresh water.

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