What are nuts good for? No long introduction here; just a short overview of science-based health benefits of 12 commonly used nuts for your references:
- Vitamin E: Almonds have phenomenal contents of vitamin E – 26mg/100g, 175%DV! Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals. It can potentially reduce the risk of colon and breast cancers, strengthens immune system, helps prevent mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Riboflavin L-carnitine: Keep your brain healthy due to high levels of two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and L-carnitine.
- Prevent osteoporosis because they are rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin E: acting together, these three nutrients can keep your bones healthy.
- Improve your heart health due to high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Regulate blood pressure because they have a high level of potassium and low level of sodium.
Brazil nuts are champions in many things:
- Selenium: Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium – a one-ounce serving of 6 nuts supplies 774%DV! Due to this fact, Brazil nuts are great for thyroid gland health and the thyroid hormones production; may reduce the risk of certain cancers including breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers; increase testosterone production and libido, improve male reproductive performance, and protect against oxidative damage to spermatozoa; reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (also thanks to the high content of vitamin E); increase serotonin, a hormone of happiness,
- Calories: Among all nuts, they are the richest in calories, total fat, and phosphorus.
- Complete protein: Brazil nuts have all nine essential amino acids making their protein complete.
- Phosphorus: Due to the highest concentration of phosphorus, Brazil nuts strengthen cellular membranes, help provide your cells with ATP and form DNA and RNA.
- Copper: Cashews are one of the best plant sources of copper that is of vital importance for humans: it is necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other body organs. It is an essential component of many enzymes that play crucial roles in a wide range of physiological processes.
- Plant sterols: They also contain a fair amount of beta-sitosterol (one of several plant sterols) that is being studied for its potential to reduce benign prostatic hyperplasia and blood cholesterol levels.
- Vitamins and minerals from cashews stimulates your immune system, increase your red blood cells production, strengthen your bones and teeth, help provide your cells with ATP, help improve phospholipids synthesis, help prevent gallstones and improve men’s health
- Vitamin powerhouse: Hazelnuts have 7 (!) essential vitamins at significant amounts: vitamins B1, B5, B6, B9, C, E, and K. If you eat hazelnuts on a regular basis you can enjoy all the health benefits that these vitamins provide.
- Minerals: Filberts contain high amounts of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and zinc for your overall health.
- Flavonoids: Hazelnuts are rich in flavonoids that support brain health, improve blood circulation and reduce symptoms associated with allergies.
- Healthy fats: Hazelnuts contain nearly 91% heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Healthy fats: Macadamia nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats.
- Thiamine: Due to a high content of vitamin B1, macadamias improve the metabolism of sugars and amino acids.
- Amino acid arginine: Macadamia nuts contain a fair amount of the amino acid l-arginine. Arginine offers multiple vascular benefits to people with coronary heart disease. It plays an important role in cell division, wound healing, removing ammonia from the body, immune function, and the release of hormones. It is a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), making it important in the regulation of blood pressure and treating erectile dysfunction.
- Ellagic acid: Pecans might protect from cancer due to the high content of ellagic acid that has antiproliferative properties. (An antiproliferative substance is a substance used to prevent or retard the spread of cells, especially malignant cells, into surrounding tissues.)
- Low glycemic index: Pecans are good for people with Type 2 diabetes because they have a very low glycemic index due to their high unsaturated fat and protein content and relatively low carbohydrate content.
- Manganese: Pecans are extremely rich in manganese that maintains many metabolic processes.
- Thiamine: They are rich in vitamin B1 for your overall health.
- Dietary fiber: Pecans are rich in dietary fiber that facilitate regular bowel movements, prevent constipation and reduce the risk of haemorrhoids.
- Zinc in pecans is a natural Viagra and a precursor of “happy” hormones
- Vitamin B6: Pistachios have phenomenal contents of vitamin B6; they are one of the richest sources of it. A 100-gram serving of pistachios has 1.7mg of vitamin B6 (131% DV), whereas 100g of salmon have 0.8mg. Pistachios are twice higher in B6 than salmon! B6 serves as a coenzyme in some 100 enzyme reactions in amino acid, glucose and lipid metabolism. The liver is the site for vitamin B6 metabolism. B6 help maintain normal blood sugar levels: it is involved in the processes of converting stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose.
- Iron: Of all the popular nut varieties, pistachios have the highest concentration of iron that improves hemoglobin and red blood cells production.
- Heart-healthy fats: Pistachios are rich in heart-healthy fats and help lower high blood pressure. Relative to other tree nuts, pistachios have a lower amount of fat and calories but higher amounts of potassium, vitamin K, γ-tocopherol, and certain phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phytosterols.
- Dietary fiber. Pistachio nuts are the second best source, after almonds, of dietary fiber.
- Low glycemic index makes pistachios good for people with Type 2 diabetes.
- Folic acid (vitamin B9): Pistachios are naturally rich in folate (or folic acid, or vitamin B9) which is important for synthesis of the “hormones of happiness”
- Arginine – 217 mg/100g (and have high arginine to lysine ratios)
- Magnesium – 121 mg/100g (34% DV)
- Zinc – 2 mg/100g (23% DV)
- Ellagic acid: Walnuts are high in ellagic acid that might prevent cancer due to its antiproliferative properties (ability to prevent or retard the spread of cells, especially malignant cells, into surrounding tissues). This effect may be due to its ability to directly inhibit the DNA binding of certain carcinogens.
- Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid: Among all nuts, walnuts are the richest source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. However, walnuts contain over 40% (of total fat) of Omega-6 fatty acids that counteract Omega 3s. Don’t go nuts with walnuts!
- Tannins: Walnuts are high in tannins that prevent tooth decay
- Values and percentages are approximate based on the USDA Nutrient Database
- Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.