If you’ve always been a peanut butter and jelly fan, you’re not nuts — nuts are one of the healthiest snack foods out there. Researchers now report that nuts may have a myriad of health benefits, from preventing heart disease and diabetes to fighting cancer — and furthermore, nuts are not as fattening as previously thought.
The world is full of nuts — and I’m not talking about your crazy ex-girlfriend who calls you at 3 a.m., “just to talk.” I’m talking about cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, etc. And with so many hard-shelled possibilities to choose from, find out which nuts you should become crazy about, and why.
what is & what isn’t a nut?
Nuts are generally the seeds or extensions of fruits, encased in a hard outer shell, and grow on flowering upright trees or shrubs. One common misconception about nuts is that peanuts are one of them. Well, peanuts may be crazy, but they certainly aren’t nuts; peanuts are in fact legumes, like beans or peas (edible seeds that grow inside pods), and grow underground.
Soy nuts, although they may provide many of the same health benefits as nuts, are also not officially nuts either. Soy nuts are merely dried and roasted soybeans, and therefore belong to the legume family.
overall health benefits
Whether it’s an actual tree nut or a peanut, nuts in general have several very important health benefits. Nuts are high in the healthy type of plant-based fat, monounsaturated fat, which helps lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Most nuts are also chock-full of protein, and the type of protein in nuts is rich in arginine — a precursor to the substance nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels in the body, and lower blood pressure.
Finally, most nuts are excellent sources of fiber and vitamins, which help keep your body running like a smoothly oiled machine.