We’ve all been there: It’s 2 p.m. and you’re hungry. The office vending machine is taunting you with candy and potato chips. Next time you feel like falling victim to those sugar, salt, and carbohydrate-filled choices, reach for a handful of nuts instead! Nuts are small but mighty nutritional powerhouses that are full of flavor. They contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy (unsaturated) fats, all of which promote various aspects of health.
Almonds are a great choice for those looking to feel more full. They are high in protein (30.2 grams per cup), fiber (17.9 grams per serving), and fat (71.4 grams per serving). Almonds also contain the highest amount of calcium per serving (385 mg) of all nuts. Try adding sliced almonds to your salad for extra crunch!
If you want to promote your heart health, pistachios are a delicious way to do it. Not only are they low in sodium (only 1 mg), they contain potassium (1261 mg) and magnesium (149 mg), which can help control your blood pressure. They also contain a good amount of calcium (129 mg). With 24.9 grams of protein and 12.7 grams of fiber, you can feel good about adding these colorful nuts to a wide variety of meals. Check out this delicious recipe for chocolate, pistachio, and cranberry meringues!
In addition to being an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts can help fight fatigue! A cup of walnut pieces contains 18.3 grams of protein, and when added to an unrefined carbohydrate like oatmeal or leafy greens, they can help give you the energy you need. For a tasty and nutritious breakfast, try this banana and walnut smoothie recipe!
4. Brazil Nuts
Along with walnuts, Brazil nuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. With only 1 mg of sodium per serving, they are a great choice if you’re watching your cholesterol. One serving contains 160 mg of magnesium and 280 mg of potassium, which both promote heart health and keep blood pressure in check. They’re also a great source of selenium, which can help keep arthritis symptoms in check. Try this Brazil nut-crusted tilapia recipe for a crunchy, nutrient-packed dinner!
Are you an expecting mother? If so, consider incorporating hazelnuts into your diet. Hazelnuts rank highest among nuts when it comes to folate (153 mg per cup), which is a vitamin known to decrease the risk of birth defects. While it may be tempting to just reach for the Nutella, opt for a healthier option like adding chopped, toasted hazelnuts to a warm orange salad.
Cashews are more carbohydrate-rich than other nuts, and one ounce contains about 1.8 mg of iron, which makes them an ideal choice for athletes. They are also a good source of protein (5.2 g) and zinc (1.6 mg per serving), nutrients that play a critical role in cell growth and repair. Cashew butter is a great alternative to peanut butter; spread 2 tablespoons over a piece of whole grain bread.
Not only do pecans contain more healthy fats than most other nuts, they’re also a good source of fiber (9.5 grams per cup of pecan halves) and potassium (406 mg). They also contain arginine, an amino acid linked to good heart health. Try this tasty recipe for pecan chicken pasta salad!
Okay, so peanuts are not actually nuts. They’re technically legumes. However, they share many of the same health benefits as nuts. They’re an excellent source of protein, with 37.7 grams per cup. They also contain a lot of fiber (12.4 grams), magnesium (245 mg), and potassium (1029 mg). Peanut butter is a great addition to a smoothie; check out this peanut butter banana smoothie recipe!
9. Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are rich in healthy fats, and are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, specifically iron. One cup contains 7.5 grams of iron. Pine nuts also have high amounts of phosphorus (776 mg) and potassium (806 mg). Use them to make your own pesto at home, or add some toasted pine nuts to a green salad!
With so many crunchy, flavor-filled options, isn’t it time you got a little nutty?