Men's Health offered up this nice little overview of nuts and which nuts are good for various health issues (more accurately, the primary health benefit of each nut.
They can save your life—so it's time to get to know these power-packed nuggetsBy Rachael Schultz, November 25, 2013
OverviewGo nuts! It could save your life: People who eat a handful of nuts daily are 20 percent less likely to die than those who skip the snack, reports a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health.
In addition to lower instances of death, researchers found that people who consumed seven or more handful servings a week saw a 25 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease deaths and an 11 percent reduction in death from cancers.
“By substituting nuts for carbohydrate-rich snacks, you’re reducing your load of less healthy food,” says senior author Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A yet-to-be-determined bioactive nutrient that affects our metabolism could be at play as well, Dr. Fuchs speculates.
There’s no shortage of research showing nuts do endless good for your body. So maximize your benefits by making a weekly mix of these six nuts—and eat a handful every day, suggests Alan Aragon, M.S., Men's Health's nutrition advisor.
Best for: Cleaning up your diet
A recent study from New Zealand found that people who ate roughly two tablespoons of hazelnuts a day for 12 weeks improved their overall diet quality. Participants ate less unhealthy saturated fats and increased their intake of healthy fats—with no negative impact on the scale.
Best for: Your heart
While all nuts help protect your ticker, an overwhelming number of studies have held walnuts above the rest. Walnuts have been linked to reducing inflammation, lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease. What makes this nut so special? Walnuts have the highest free and total polyphenol count, reports a 2012 study from the University of Scranton. The antioxidant binds with lipoproteins, which work to prevent plaque from building in your arteries.
Best for: Weight loss and curbing hunger
People who included almonds in their diet lost 62 percent more weight and 56 percent more body fat than participants who skipped the snack in a study from the City of Hope National Medical Center in California. Research shows almonds are high in fiber and naturally filling. In fact, a new study from Purdue University found that people who made no sacrifices in their diet other than adding 1.5 ounces of almonds every day were less hungry and avoided weight gain.
Best for: Your brain
Pistachios are particularly rich in the same compound that makes red wine so healthy: resveratrol. The antioxidant has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, but a 2010 study from Tufts University also found that it boosted cognitive function in mice. Even pistachio oil has been linked to preventing inflammation in the brain and possibly curbing damage against brain injuries, reports a 2012 Italian study.
Best for: Strong bones
Calcium gets all the ink for keeping your bones strong, but studies have shown a deficiency in magnesium can up your risk for osteoporosis. Low levels of the mineral affect the activity and secretion of your hormones and promote inflammation, according to a new Italian study. Since cashews pack 20 percent of your recommended dietary allowance of magnesium plus a small amount of calcium, noshing can help keep your bones strong.
Best for: Fighting disease
Pecans are a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants—and not just compared to other nuts. The phenolic content—an antioxidant chemical found in plant molecules—of pecans is comparable to power-packed fruits like blueberries and plums. Consuming polyphenol-rich foods reduces your overall mortality risk by 30 percent, reports a new study in Journal of Nutrition.