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Rebeka Bergin

7 Nuts You Need to Include in Your Healthy Diet

Nuts have gained a bit of a bad reputation over the years and unfairly so. Although they're high in fat and calories, studies have actually found that eating a handful of nuts a day can extend a person's life.

Nuts are an invaluable part of a healthy, balanced diet and shouldn't be avoided because of their high calorie count and fat content, they should be embraced for their many health benefits.

Here are 7 of the healthiest nuts to include in your balanced diet.

Almonds

Possibly the nut with the best reputation, almonds are an absolute staple to add to your shopping basket. They're a fantastic source of fibre, protein and magnesium, which is a muscle relaxer, encourages healthy sleep patterns and improves mood naturally. They're also packed with immune boosting vitamin E and monounsaturated fats (the healthy kind found in olive oil).

Roasted, raw or as a nut butter, almonds are the perfect healthy snack any time of day (even as a late-night snack). The recommended serving size is around 20 nuts for 160 calories.

Brazil Nuts

Delicious covered in dark chocolate (another healthy snacking option as long as it's 70% cocoa or more) brazil nuts are pretty impressive when it comes to their health benefits. They contain an antioxidant called selenium, which is believed to have anti-cancer properties. They're also a good source of manganese, phosphorous, copper and B vitamins.

Brazil nuts have the highest fat content and number of calories, so it's important to eat them in moderation and stick to the recommended serving size of 6 whole nuts for around 180 calories.

Pecan Nuts

A favourite on desserts, pecans are full of vitamins (around 19), minerals and antioxidants. They're also great for digestive health due to being a good source of fibre and could help lower cholesterol levels because they contain heart healthy fats.

Sprinkle a few pecan nuts in your morning granola or half the recommended serving size (18-20 nuts for 200 cals) and eat them with some dried fruit as a healthy snack, whatever your preference, these nuts are a nutritious addition to any diet.

Pistachio Nuts

These nuts may be small but they're packed with health benefits! Aside from containing vital vitamins and minerals, pistachio nuts are also a healthy source of satisfying fibre and protein and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They've also been linked to reduced risk in heart disease, weight loss and blood sugar management.

Pistachios are lower in calories than most nuts, so the recommended serving size is 49 nuts for 160 calories. Snack on pistachios instead of your usual crisps or sprinkle on your salads to make these nuts part of your healthy, balanced diet.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are one of the nuts that contain the highest fat content, but they should still be included in your diet in moderation. They're heart healthy and reduce cholesterol because they contain healthy fats, they contain antioxidants to fight off disease and they're a good source of fibre, making them great for digestion. Macadamias are also a nutritious source of manganese and copper.

Make macadamia nuts part of your healthy lifestyle by adding them to your salads or seasoning them to make a tasty snack. The recommended serving size is 10-11 nuts for around 204 calories.

Cashew Nuts

This popular sweet flavoured nut should absolutely become part of your diet. One serving of cashew nuts (17 nuts for 160 calories) contains around 13g of heart healthy fats and 4g of protein. They're also a fantastic source of essential minerals such as iron, copper and magnesium.

Toss some cashews into your stir fry or curry or spread cashew butter over your favourite whole wheat toast to get a deliciously healthy kick from these nuts.

Walnuts

Walnuts are often considered a super food and for good reason. One serving alone (1 ounce- 14 halves for 185 cals) contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of alpha-lineolenic acid (ALA)- a plant based omega 3 fatty acid known for it's anti-inflammatory benefits. These brain healthy fatty acids have been linked to improved bone health, prevention of heart disease and Type II diabetes, reduced memory loss and improved cognitive function.

Add walnuts to your breakfast cereal or salads for these healthy fatty acids and an excellent source of protein, B vitamins and minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.

If you've been avoiding nuts because of their high calorie and fat content, I hope you'll change your mind and embrace them for the health packed plants that they are. Cutting empty calories out of your diet and replacing them with some of these nutrient dense nuts will help you gain a bundle of health benefits you never had before and lead you to live a longer, healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

What nuts do you like to snack on as part of your healthy diet?

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