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Is it healthy to snack on cashews and macadamia nuts? Add to ...

The question: Are all nuts healthy? Are there certain types I should avoid?

The answer: Providing you eat them raw or dry roasted – and unsalted – all types of nuts are good for you. There isn’t one type of nut you should avoid. (Contrary to popular belief, cashews and macadamia nuts are very nutritious.) All nuts are a good source of plant protein, contain no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat. In fact, the majority of the fat in nuts is unsaturated, a heart healthy type of fat.

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Including nuts in your diet on a regular basis is linked with protection from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Studies have consistently shown that including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts or pecans in the diet lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. In addition to their healthy fats, nuts also contain natural compounds called plant sterols, which are implicated in lowering cholesterol.

Adding nuts to your diet can also help keep your blood pressure in check. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, an eating plan scientifically proven to lower blood pressure in people with mild and moderate hypertension, includes a serving of nuts up to five times a week. The blood pressure-lowering effect of nuts is attributed to their protein, magnesium and arginine content. (Arginine is an amino acid that helps relax blood vessels.)

The nutrient profile of each type of nut is different. Almonds and hazelnuts are exceptional sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps keep brain cells healthy. Peanuts contain the most folate, a B vitamin that’s needed to repair DNA in cells. And if you’re looking to add a good source of monounsaturated fat to your diet, macadamia, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews and pecans are your best choices.

While nuts are good for you, they are high in calories. A one-ounce serving of nuts delivers anywhere from 160 and 200 calories. One ounce of nuts isn’t that large – you’ll need to count out 6 Brazil nuts, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 23 almonds or 28 peanuts to make sure you’re eating only one serving.

NUT NUTRITION

Per 1 ounce (28 grams) serving

How many? Calories Noteworthy for

Almonds

  • How many: 23
  • Calories: 163
  • Noteworthy for: monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium

Brazil nuts

  • How many: 6
  • Calories: 186
  • Noteworthy for: magnesium, selenium, copper

Cashews

  • How many: 18
  • Calories: 163
  • Noteworthy for: monounsaturated fat, magnesium, copper, plant sterols

Hazelnuts

  • How many: 21
  • Calories: 178
  • Noteworthy for: monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folate, copper, manganese

Macadamia nuts

  • How many: 10 to 12
  • Calories: 200
  • Noteworthy for: monounsaturated fat, manganese, plant sterols

Peanuts

  • How many: 28
  • Calories: 170
  • Noteworthy for: magnesium, folate, niacin, manganese

Pecans

  • How many: 19 halves
  • Calories: 196
  • Noteworthy for: monounsaturated fat, copper, manganese

Pistachios

  • How many: 49
  • Calories: 161
  • Noteworthy for: vitamin B6, copper, manganese

Walnuts

  • How many: 14 halves
  • Calories: 185
  • Noteworthy for: copper, manganese, ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid)

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel’sDirect (www.lesliebeck.com).

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