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Types of Nuts

Nuts are everywhere - snack mixes, gift baskets, party trays, the subway. Trying to keep all of the types of straight in your mind - by color, shape, flavor, use, health benefits, etc. - can make a person, er, crazy. We've put together this glossary of the most popular kinds of edible nuts, along with some interesting and helpful facts!

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Almonds

Often found flaked or baked onto less-than-healthy desserts, the almond is actually a very beneficial food. The almond can be eaten raw or toasted, and is also used to create non-dairy beverages, almond oil, and other derivatives. Almonds are considered "heart-healthy" by the FDA as a rich source of protein and unsaturated fats. They also have a high fiber content - 4 grams per quarter-cup - that helps fight the development of diseases like colon cancer.

Brazil Nuts

Brazils aren't as common as some more familiar types, but they show up in mixed nuts and gift baskets with regularity. They're known for their rich flavor, with the highest saturated fat content than any other kind. Because of this, they're often pressed for oil, and on their own make a great source of protein. Just two Brazils provide the protein content of a whole egg.

Cashews

A staple of snack mixes and football parties, the uniquely shaped cashew is widely used for its rich flavor that pairs well with both salt and sugar. It's considered to be lower in fat than others, but still rich in poly and monounsaturated fats. With zero cholesterol, they're considered a heart-healthy treat.

Chestnuts

Whether you roast them over an open fire, boil them, or serve them with polenta, chestnuts are the perfect colder-season food. They're particularly low in calories, with less fat and more minerals and vitamins than other popular types. Use them for holiday cheer and as a great source of vitamin C.

Pecans

Pecans have long been one of the most popular healthy nuts, both inside delicious pies and out. From a large tree in the hickory family, these rich, buttery nuts are rich in energy-supplying calories, as well as monounsaturated healthy fats that help lower cholesterol.

Pine Nuts

You may not even know that you like pine nuts, but if you've ever enjoyed a pesto, read on. These powerful little nuggets are found in sauces, desserts, and salads, and pack a lot of punch in a small package. Another great source of fatty acids and calories, pine nuts are gluten-free, making them common ingredients in dietary foods.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnut. So hot right now. It's in everyone's favorite breakfast spread, six-dollar flavored coffees, and all over gourmet desserts. These delicious nuts are more than trendy, though; they're healthy! Rich in oleic fatty acid, dietary fiber, and vitamins, hazelnuts are one of our favorites. Hazelnut butter is a delicious alternative to peanut butter, especially handy to those with allergies.

Kola Nuts

You may never have eaten a kola directly, but you've certainly tasted one. True to their name the kola is the inspiration for cola, the drink. These beverages were originally made with actual nut extract, a natural source of caffeine, but more recently are artificially flavored. Many West African cultures still chew nuts habitually.

Macadamia Nuts

Many people only know macadamians in association with white chocolate and cookies, but it's a valuable source of nutrition that shouldn't be overlooked. These zero-cholesterol nuts hail from Australia, and are rich in unsaturated fats and fiber. They're fantastic in many desserts, like cookies, cakes, and as an ice cream topping.

Pistachios

The nut that's as fun to crack as it is to eat has been getting a lot of publicity lately. These tasty treats landed on a TV doctor's favorite foods list, adding to the good PR pistachios get from the FDA. Billed as a "super-food," these healthy nuts are rich in the unsaturated fats and antioxidants you've come to expect. With tons of dietary fiber per serving, pistachios are often recommended to as a caloric substitute in a well-balanced diet.

Walnuts

Enter the walnut. Some research suggest that they're superior size and heft may not just be for show - they could be the healthiest nut in the land. With the same unsaturated fat power as its contemporaries, the walnut also manages to pack the highest number of antioxidants by weight. It doesn't hurt that they're also fun to crack, lovely as a stand-alone snack, member of a mix, or a dessert topping, and - most of all - delicious!

Peanuts

Wait. The rest of this list was alphabetical. Did we seriously forget peanuts? No, we saved them for last because peanuts are a legume. That's right, a bean! One of the world's most popular foods, the peanut has been hiding in plain sight for years. Luckily for us, this odd little legume actually carries most of the healthy properties of others. We don't have to tell you where to find these, but we can tell you they're similar to almonds - rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and more. Go nuts!

The 7 Healthiest Nuts

Aw, nuts! Tasty little morsels that go great with almost anything, nuts are some of world's most popular snack foods. They come in all shapes, sizes, and preparations - some enjoy roasted, salted peanuts, and others prefer to pop freshly cracked walnuts. But did you know that nuts are also incredibly healthy? That's right - most of our favorite nuts are an excellent supplement or substitute in a healthy diet and have been proven to help promote heart health and prevent disease!

Healthy nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of protein, healthy fats, and vitamin E. They're also an excellent source of antioxidants. Adding nuts to an underwhelming diet or substituting healthy nuts in place of harmful, saturated fat-laden meats and snacks provides proven results in improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, and building bodily strength. The healthiest nuts provide benefits for both men and women, and can be enjoyed in a seemingly endless variety of ways. Here are some of the best benefits of eating healthy nuts, and what nuts to watch for to get them.

Unsaturated fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered the "good" fats, and healthy nuts have them in spades. Some nuts contain as much as 80 percent fat, but these are fats that work to actually lower cholesterol levels. Don't add them - substitute nuts for other snacks and proteins that are heavy with unhealthy fat.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These are key to building pulmonary and arterial strength, and are proven to reduce risk of heart attack. Many people think Omega-3 acids only come from fish oil, but rich, healthy nuts are chock full.

Fiber: Nuts are naturally rich in fiber, aiding in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of developing diabetes. As an added bonus, fiber-rich snacks and foods help you feel full, a boon in any volume-reducing diet.

Vitamin E: This valuable vitamin helps prevent build-up in your arteries, strengthening and working to prevent chest pain, heart attack, and heart disease.

What Nuts to Eat?

Every health expert seems to have a different nut of choice, but they all agree on their value. The FDA has approved the following health claim for 7 popular nuts. "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 oz. per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." The 7 nuts given the A-OK are:

  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Put 'em in a snack mix, pair 'em with a smoothie - however you get your daily dose of healthy nuts, rest easy knowing these delicious crunchies are helping your heart!