The best type of nuts to snack on, based on your health goals

We all know that chips and candy bars aren’t the healthiest snacks, but you can switch to a snack that helps prevent several chronic health problems. When you need a packable food to eat between meals, nuts and seeds are a perfect choice, loaded with fiber, good fats and protein.

Still, you’ve probably heard several warnings about certain nuts that cashews are bad for us, for example, while almonds are better. Is it really true? We asked some nutrition experts which unsalted nuts and seeds are their top picks for nutritious, nutrient-dense snacks.

The best options for women’s health

Pumpkin seeds contain a composition of nutrients that are particularly favorable women’s health. Pumpkin seeds have a noticeably higher amount of magnesium compared to the other options. Magnesium is a particularly important mineral for the prevention of osteoporosis in women.

Pumpkin seeds also have a good amount of zinc. Zinc plays a role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle participating in the synthesis, storage and release of reproductive hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Zinc is also important during pregnancy for its role in DNA synthesis, which is a fundamental physiological process for fetal development.

[Another good pick is] Brazil nuts for their selenium content… which is an important hormone for menstrual regularity. I also love recommending Brazil nuts to clients because you can meet your daily selenium needs by eating just two nuts a day. Claire Rifkin, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Claire Rifkin Nutrition

The best nuts for weight loss

Sunflower seeds are a great option. Compared to other variations of nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds have fewer calories and less fat than others, a good trade-off for those trying to lose weight. They provide a good source of phosphorus, which helps in cell growth and repair. Also a good source of iron and fiber. Courtney Pelitera, registered dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and wellness nutrition

Hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with 10 grams of protein in 3 scoops along with heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. This is the perfect combination to keep you satisfied and full for longer, while filling your body with minerals, like zinc and iron, that it needs to thrive. Kaytee Hadley, functional medicine dietitian and founder of Holistic Health and Wellness

Compared to other nuts, peanuts are reasonably priced, making them more accessible to many. From a nutrient standpoint, eating peanuts will help with a feeling of satiety due to their fiber, healthy fat, and protein content. They also contain antioxidants such as flavonoids, which work to eliminate free radicals and potentially protect against cancer.

Cashews are a creamy, velvety type of nut that can be used in a variety of delicious recipes and can also be made into a plant-based milk. They are rich in protein, which helps with the feeling of satiety or fullness. One of the best things about cashews is that they are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol levels and optimize heart health. Lena Bakovic, registered dietitian specializing in chronic disease, weight management, gut health, oncology, and general health and wellness

says Toby Smithson. ALEAIMAGE via Getty Images” data-src=https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/zC1zefzuN0E7IsrCjKaLpg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTcxOQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/huff373097713097300000001 48df56abc0>
“The act of shelling pistachios can help instill awareness in our eating, says registered dietitian Toby Smithson. ALEAIMAGE via Getty Images

The best nuts for blood sugar control

Pistachios tick all the boxes. Pistachios are rich in fiber and protein (which help with blood sugar management), are lower in calories per ounce (which helps control weight) and the act of shelling Pistachios can help instill awareness in our eating. Toby Smithson, registered dietitian and certified diabetes education and care specialist, and founder of Diabetes Every Day

Hazelnuts contain a good amount of vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, which play an important role in energy metabolism, as well as immunity and blood pressure. They are also an excellent source of healthy fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels and also improve inflammatory markers. Some research also shows that oleic acid, which is abundant in these nuts, can have a beneficial impact on insulin sensitivity, which improves blood sugar metabolism and reduces the risk of diabetes. Megan Hilbert, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in nutrition for gut health, IBS, intuitive eating, gentle nutrition and the gut-brain axis

The best nuts for heart health

I once worked for a cardiologist who wrote prescriptions for his high blood pressure patients to eat 1/4 cup of almonds every day. Almonds can help control blood pressure because they are high in the amino acid arginine. Arginine is needed to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes arterial blood vessels which in turn lowers blood pressure.

The new ones have cardiometabolic protector benefits. They have been shown, when consumed as a part of a balanced and comprehensive diet, to reduce blood cholesterol levels. They are rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). A quarter-cup serving of this nut can satisfy our daily needs need for this essential fatty acid. Tami Best, Registered Dietitian

Pecans are a great source of healthy fats and fiber. They can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol because of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Pecans are also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin E and folic acid. leather jacket

The nuts even look a bit like brains.  A little.

The nuts even look a bit like brains. A little. ermingut via Getty Images

The best nuts for brain health

Walnuts are rich in anti-inflammatory fats, reduce neuroinflammation and help provide mental support health and well-being and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. Amyloid plaques found in everyone’s brain People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to have increased oxidative damage to neurons and promotes inflammation. Because walnuts are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fats, they have the potential to have one neuroprotective benefit. The best

There is also a case for mixed nuts

Mixed nuts contain a good amount of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation levels. Most Americans do not get enough omega-3 in their diet, which can cause an imbalance in their omega-2 to omega-6 ratio, and a diet with a higher omega-6 ratio has been linked to higher rates of heart disease.

Magnesium is something 50-80% of Americans don’t get enough of and these nuts contain nearly 20% of our daily value in just one serving. Magnesium plays an important role in sleep, stress management, mood and more.

Mixed nuts also contain more than enough selenium to fill our daily requirement at 170% of the DV in fact! Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress, which is known to reduce the impacts of premature aging, stroke, Alzheimer’s and even cancer. Bakovic

Just remember it’s all about portions

Unless you’re on a weight loss medication, nuts are easy to overeat, they taste so good. I prepare in a small ramekin to curb the excess, and take to my desk and savor each one as I work. Lately I’ve been buying cashews at Costco that are roasted with just a touch of sugar and we combine them with other (unsalted) nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds) and it’s a plant-based snack. Barbara Ruhs, registered dietitian and owner of food marketing consultancy MarketRD.com

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