Eating fatty nuts may not ruin your diet, new report shows. That's right — we've always been told to limit nut consumption because of their high fat content, but maybe that advice should fall by the wayside.
In the new analysis, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reviewed data from 31 studies conducted worldwide and found there was very little difference in weight among people who ate nuts and those who didn't.
This doesn't mean that eating nuts will cause you to lose weight, but the research suggests that it probably won't contribute to significant weight gains. Just remember that not all nuts are created equal. Some are better for your health than others. Here's a look:
- Almonds: This nut is one of the best food sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.
- Walnuts: Walnuts have a great balance of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.
- Macadamia nuts: These nuts are packed with antioxidants vitamin E and selenium.
- Pecans: Pecans are higher in fat than some of the other nuts, but they have a very rich nutrient profile. In addition to many antioxidants, minerals and phytonutrients, these nuts are also a great source for several important B-complex vitamins.
- Pine nuts: Pine nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, lutein and vitamins A, C and D.
- Peanuts: These nuts aren't really nuts at all, but they do have a similar nutrient profile. Peanut allergies are becoming much more common these days, and they can be severe, so take caution if you think you may have a peanut allergy.
- Cashews: In their raw form, cashews are actually toxic to humans because of a chemical called urshiol, which is the same oil that causes an allergic reaction to poison ivy. Before they are sold, cashews are either steamed or roasted (or both) to remove this chemical. But if you're highly allergic to poison ivy, avoid buying any cashews labeled as raw. They have likely been steamed, but it's not worth the risk. Cashews may also contain a toxic compound known as aflatoxin if they are stored improperly.
- Pistachios: Pistachios have some amazing health benefits, but they can also be susceptible to aflatoxin. The shells often open before the nuts are harvested, and sometimes the hulls also break open and leave the nut exposed to mold growth and aflatoxin production.
- Sweet or savory varieties: Avoid any kind of nut that has been doused in sugar, salt or any other seasoning. The added salt and sugar turn an otherwise healthy snack into junk food.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!