You know how they say good things come in small packages? That is certainly the case when we’re talking about nuts. Nuts are filled with health-boosting fats, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Studies have shown that eating nuts can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. The small morsels of goodness may also help prevent diabetes and have been shown to protect against some forms of cancer. And even though they’re a calorie-dense food and should be eaten in moderation, they can help you control your weight.

A small handful of nuts can be a nutritious boost to your diet. Of course, different types of nuts are superstars for different reasons, but overall, all nuts provide health benefits that can’t be overlooked.

Here’s why nuts are so good for you:

They have unsaturated fats. Nuts are primarily comprised of fat, but luckily it’s the healthy kind. Studies show the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in nuts help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats can also raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol and these healthy fats are also good for your brain.

They have fiber. Fiber also helps lower your cholesterol, but it has other benefits as well. Fiber may help prevent type 2 diabetes and can also help in weight control, since it keeps you feeling fuller longer.

They have protein. Although not quite protein powerhouses, nuts are a good non-meat source of protein.

They have omega-3 fatty acids. These may help prevent dangerous heart rhythms, which can result in a heart attack.

They have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Many nuts contain vitamin E, which helps protect the body from free radicals and can prevent plaque from forming in your arteries. Nuts are also rich in L-arginine. This may make your artery walls more flexible, which makes them less prone to blood clots. Some nuts are also rich in folate, selenium, magnesium, zinc and iron.

Here are some reasons you’ll want to include these nuts in your diet:

  • AlmondsThey contain the most fiber and protein of any nut and they are the richest nut source of vitamin E. They can help you lose weight, lower bad cholesterol and reduce insulin resistance when eaten as part of a healthy diet.
  • WalnutsThey have the most antioxidants of all nuts and are the richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
  • Cashews – They have lots of iron, zinc and magnesium. Iron helps deliver oxygen to your cells, zinc helps your immune system and magnesium helps protect against age-related memory loss.
  • Pecans – These nuts are also filled with antioxidants and can help prevent plaque from forming in your arteries. They’ve also been found to lower bad cholesterol and delay progression of neurological diseases, such as ALS.
  • Brazil Nuts – These nuts are noted for the amount of selenium they contain, which may help prevent certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate and bone cancer.
  • Macadamia Nuts – Known for being the most calorie-dense of all nuts, they also have the highest amount of monounsaturated fats which can help lower bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

When you’re craving your next crunchy snack, skip over the chips and grab a handful of nuts instead!

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/ART-20046635

http://www.webmd.boots.com/healthy-eating/guide/nuts-seeds

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20585485,00.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/0406/why-you-should-go-nuts-for-nuts.aspx

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/5-nuts-that-can-revolutionize-your-diet.html