Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, packed full of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating a healthy diet that includes nuts can take you one step away from heart disease, according to Harvard Medical School. Nuts are high in calories, so substitute them for something else in your diet such as chips or cookies that do not provide healthy nutrients.
An Ounce of Almonds
Almonds can be enjoyed in numerous ways, from snacking to baking. In a 1-ounce serving, you consume 163 calories. One serving supplies 13 grams of healthy unsaturated fats and only 1 gram of saturated fat. Almonds are an excellent source of protein, providing 6 grams per serving. They are also a good source of calcium, vitamin E, dietary fiber, riboflavin and niacin. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in your body, helping to neutralize free radicals that cause damage to your cells and tissues. Diets high in antioxidants can decrease your risk for heart disease and cancer. Almonds also provide potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, folate and iron.
Walnuts for Heart Health
A 1-ounce serving of walnuts provides 190 calories and 18 grams of total fat. Unsaturated fats make up 15.5 grams of the total fat per serving. A serving of walnuts also contains 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbohydrates while supplying 25 percent of your daily needs for copper. Walnuts are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. Due to the strength of evidence that eating walnuts can improve cardiovascular health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March of 2004 approved this health claim for walnuts: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC, is a measurement of antioxidant capability of foods developed by the National Institutes for Health. Pecans rated the highest ORAC score among nuts. They provide 196 calories per 1-ounce serving. Of the 20 grams of total fat, 18 grams are made up of unsaturated fats. Pecans contain a total of 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and many B vitamins. Due to pecans' high antioxidant content, when consumed regularly with a healthy diet, they have been shown to help prevent coronary heart disease, cancer and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry."
Pistachios are another nut packed full of antioxidants. They are a good source of copper, manganese and vitamin B-6. Pistachios contain potassium, phosphorus and magnesium as well. Nut suppliers may use the health claim approved by FDA about correlation of nut consumption and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. In a 1-ounce serving of pistachios, you consume 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 13 grams of fat. Of the 13 grams of fat, 11 are from unsaturated fats.
- Harvard Medical School: Eating Nuts Promotes Cardiovascular Health
- Almond Board of California: The Density Discussion
- Almond Board of California: Amp it up With Antioxidants
- The British Journal of Nutrition: Health Benefits of Nuts: Potential Role of Antioxidants
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: California Walnuts, Raw
- California Walnut Commission: Smart for the Heart
- National Pecan Shellers Association: Pecans: #1 in Antioxidants Among Nuts According to ORAC Values
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrients in Shelled Pecans
- National Pecan Shellers Association: Nutrition in a Nutshell
- Pistachio Health Institute: Naturally Nutritious