What Are the Healthiest Nuts?
Pistachios, provided they are organic, not bleached and not contaminated with aflatoxin or fumigants, provide a beneficial source of antioxidants and other nutrients. My favorite nuts, however, are macadamia and pecans, as they provide the highest amount of healthy fat while being on the lower end in terms of carbs and protein. Most nuts' nutritional makeup closely resemble what I consider to be an ideal ratio of the basic building blocks—fat making up the greatest amount of your daily calories, followed by a moderate amount of high-quality protein, and a low amount of non-vegetable carbs.
The main fatty acid in macadamia nuts is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid (about 60 percent). This is about the level found in olives, which are well known for their health benefits. Generally speaking, each type of nut will offer a slightly different mix of nutrients for your health, so it's a good idea to include a variety of nuts rather than sticking to one at the exclusion of all others. In addition to pistachios, you may want to consider adding the following beneficial nuts to your diet as well:
• Raw macadamia nuts are a powerhouse of a nut, containing a wide variety of critical nutrients including high amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium, manganese, and healthful monounsaturated fat, just to name a few. They have the highest fat and lowest protein and carb content of any nut. This is particularly helpful if you are seeking to implement intermittent fasting and treating insulin resistance.
• Pecans: Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, and research has shown they may help lower LDL cholesterol and promote healthy arteries. One of my favorite treats is candied pecans in a salad at a restaurant. I know they have sugar, but a few grams or less a day is not going to cause a major problem provided you're eating a healthy whole food diet as opposed to processed foods (which are loaded with hidden fructose). Pecans are a close second to macadamia nuts on the fat and protein scale.
• Walnuts: Walnuts are good sources of plant-based omega-3 fats, natural phytosterols, and antioxidants that are so powerful at free radical scavenging that researchers have called them "remarkable."23 Plus, walnuts may help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well. They've also been shown to reverse brain aging in rats and boost heart health in people with diabetes.
• Almonds: One of the healthiest aspects of almonds appears to be their skins, as they are rich in antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which are typically associated with vegetables and fruits. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry even revealed that a one-ounce serving of almonds has a similar amount of total polyphenols as a cup of steamed broccoli or green tea.24
• Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts are an excellent source of organic selenium, a powerful antioxidant-boosting mineral that may be beneficial for the prevention of cancer.