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Nuts about nuts


Some people eat nuts like they’re diet freebies.

It’s the perfect example of good food gone bad. Nuts, like avocados, are loaded with heart-healthy fats. But healthy doesn’t always mean lean. A couple of drinks and a few handfuls of nuts and you’ve racked up some serious calories.

Nuts are a great little snack, which are easy to eat on the go, but like everything should be eaten in moderation.

So here are my 6 top choices when you fancy indulging in some delicious nuts!

1 BRAZIL NUTS

This tiny nut is pretty mighty! What makes the unsung hero of the nut world such a powerful health food? For starters, it’s the richest known food source of selenium out there, with just two of the tiny nuts providing more than a day’s worth of the mineral. Selenium not only plays a key role in metabolism, immunity and reproductive health, but also helps the body absorb vitamin E, which can help ward off cataracts later in life. Not to mention, Brazil nuts are packed with health-boosters like copper, zinc, potassium, riboflavin, heart-healthy fats and magnesium, a mineral many women are deficient in (especially those taking birth control pills).

2 WALNUTS Dietary fats are kind of like lovers. Some of them make you a better person, and others—as you often discover too late—are catastrophically bad for your health. The good news is, unlike shoddy boyfriends, dietary fats come with red flags. The absolutely worst match for your apple-shaped figure: saturated fats. While unsaturated fat can help reduce body fat, saturated fat can increase waist size, a study published in the journal Diabetes found. Saturated fats, like the kind you’ll find in baked goods and red meat, “turn on” certain genes that increase the storage of fat in the body, researchers say. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, activate genes that reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. At about 13 grams per one-ounce serving, walnuts are one of the best dietary sources. Sprinkle a handful on your morning oats or entree salad for belly-busting benefits.

3 ALMONDS Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that, combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter-cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil. For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. Almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts, a study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found.

4 PISTACHIOS

The health benefits of pistachios include a healthy heart, weight management, protection against diabetes and hypertension, and improved digestion. The vitamins, minerals, fats and protein found in pistachio are all very good for your health. Pistachios are one of the oldest nuts that were commonly used in the world. Just make sure you go for unsalted, and make sure you get them in their shell - you won't eat as many or as quickly if you have to work for each one!

5 PEANUTS While the classic nut butter shares some health benefits with other nut butters, there tend to be fewer healthy versions available on the market. Peanut butters are most often processed with hydrogenated oils and sugar, so make sure you check the label carefully. Whole Earth (from Waitrose), and Meridian (From Tesco) are two of my favourite, but there are others out there. If you can, go for ones that are 100% nuts - or, make your own!

6 CASHEW [BUTTER] With a rich, smooth texture, cashew butter is slightly lower in calcium than other varieties, but can still pack a nutritional punch. It’s a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and copper, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Magnesium boasts a myriad of health benefits, such as helping your body relieve various conditions like constipation, insomnia, headaches and muscle cramps, as well as regulating the immune system and supporting brain function. Though cashew butters tend to be harder to find, their long list of health benefits make them well worth the hunt. Cashews also contain a good amount of biotin, which will help keep your locks shiny and lustrous. Try using decadent cashew butter in smoothies and desserts to reap all the nutritional benefits and give yourself a healthful treat.

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