Nuts not only reign supreme in the upper echelon of classy snacks—they also happen to be one of the healthiest snacks available. Nuts are amazing sources of unsaturated (re: healthy) fats, fiber, protein, as well as several vitamins and minerals. But how do these nutrients contribute to overall health? Let’s dig a little deeper.
What Kind of Nuts are the Healthiest
The unsaturated fats in nuts help lower cholesterol and triglycerides and thus work to keep our hearts healthy and our blood vessels free of blockages. Protein is an important building block of some of our bodies’ most important structural components: bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, nails, and blood. Protein also helps reduce levels of our hunger hormone (ghrelin) which can subsequently promote weight loss. Similarly, fiber can also help keep us full and consequently prevent weight gain. Fiber is also beneficial in regulating our digestive processes and helping keep us regular. All of these nutrient components together are great for not only facilitating weight stability but also promoting overall physiological health.
But that’s only the beginning. Nuts also contain a laundry list of micronutrients including: potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, and iron. Each of these vitamins and minerals has specific, vital functions within the body to help promote overall health. For example, while zinc boosts immunity by helping promote wound healing and fighting off colds, vitamin E helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduces symptoms of inflammation. Instead of thin-slicing each of these vitamins and minerals acute functions, let’s simply boil their overall purpose down to two vital objectives: protecting immunity and promoting cardiovascular health. Outside of the macronutrient realm, these two general functions are what help to give nuts such a positive reputation.
Similar to that of our list of micronutrients, each specific type of nut has their own, individual benefits and purposes within the body. It is difficult to say if there is one nut that is particularly more valuable than the other as they all generally promote the same streams of broad-spectrum bodily health in minutely, different capacities. That being said, let’s use our favorite nut, the pecan, as an example.
Nutrient breakdown, per 1 oz serving:
- Calories: 190
- Protein: 3 g
- Total fat: 20 g
- 2 g saturated fat
- 11 g monounsaturated fat
- 6 g polyunsaturated fats
- Cholesterol: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 5 g
- 3 g fiber
- Magnesium (11% of DRI)
- Zinc (16% of DRI)
- Copper (30% of DRI)
- Calcium (2% of DRI)
- Iron (4% of DRI)
- Other benefits:
- Balances cholesterol
- One of the highest antioxidant containing nuts
- Half our daily recommended intake of soluble fiber
- 20 nuts, 190 calories, per serving
- Proven to improve cardio-metabolic risk factors in overweight and obese adults
The bottom line: in the world of snacks, nuts are one of the best. Reach for a pack of Millican Pecans next time you not only want to fulfill your crunchy craving but also want to protect your heart, keep your digestive system moving, promote weight loss, and fight off that common cold!
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