For decades, consumers shunned the nut section of grocery stores, scared off by nuts’ high calorie and fat content. But ongoing research has revealed the truth about them. While nuts are high in fats, many of them contain good fats — the kind that actually help your body — in addition to a plentiful selection of vitamins and minerals.
So next time you find yourself heading for the chip aisle, stop in the nut section instead and pick up some of nature’s most versatile treats. Here, we showcase five healthy nut varieties we love.
An all-star nut, almonds offer a host of health benefits. Their potent combination of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and magnesium lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease and improves the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Eat ‘em whole with the skins on for maximum effect.
Recipe riff: Incorporate chopped almonds (as well as other nuts of choice) when making homemade granola.
We’re going to overlook the fact that this misnamed food is actually a seed, not a nut. But like many nuts, pine nuts are high in heart-healthy fats, potassium and vitamin E. They’re also loaded with protein — some varieties clock in at 34% protein. As an added bonus, pine nuts serve as an appetite suppressant, making them a perfect mid-day snack.
Recipe riff: In a food processor, pulse pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, basil leaves and cheese to make a yummy basil pesto.
Research positions walnuts as the Holy Grail of nuts. They’re bursting with nutrients — including omega-3 fatty acids, copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium — and have been linked to lower cholesterol, healthy blood pressure, bone stability and reduced risk of cancer. You’ll benefit most from a walnut’s nutrients if you leave the skin on.
Recipe riff: Toast shelled walnuts; then combine with arugula, pears and your dressing of choice for a healthy, delicious salad.
These exotically named nuts hail from the Amazon, and like their more well-known counterparts, contain high levels of good fats, vitamin E and other nutrients. Brazil nuts also boast selenium, which can help prevent cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and coronary artery disease.
Recipe riff: Combine raw Brazil nuts, olive oil and a dash of salt; then roast in the oven for an easy snack.
Packed with antioxidants, these little green guys are known to reduce bad cholesterol and support heart health. Not to mention, they’re fun to shell and munch on for an afternoon treat.
Recipe riff: Combine finely chopped pistachios with panko to make a crust for baked salmon.