From Almonds to Walnuts, Nuts Provide a Wealth of Health Benefits
Nuts aren’t simply a tasty snack or crunchy garnish for an entree; as it turns out, nuts — from almonds to walnuts and just about all nut varieties — have impressive health benefits.
What Makes Nuts So Good for You?
Nuts are a “superfood” which means they’re nutrient-rich and packed with health benefits. They’re good sources of a multitude of desirable nutrients: including fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fat (mostly monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat).
Which Nuts Are the Best Health Options?
Some of the best nuts for your health includes macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and pecans. Here are specific benefits of each:
- Macadamias contain more monounsaturated fats than any other nut, and are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A and B, protein, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folates.
- Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, magnesium, protein, potassium, calcium, and zinc. They also are believed to relieve heartburn.
- Hazelnuts contain noteworthy amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins B and E, folate, potassium, and calcium. What’s more, even small amounts may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Pine nuts provide monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber, vitamins K and E, thiamin, niacin. magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. It’s said pine nuts also can reduce the risk of heart disease and defend against cognitive decline.
- Brazil nuts contain vitamins E and B, selenium, and essential fatty acids, and consuming just four a month may improve LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
- Walnuts provide antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fats, zinc, and folate. They also are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack.
- Pistachios are a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin B6, potassium, and thiamin. Among other benefits, these nuts may lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
- Cashews contain significant amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B, zinc, folic acid, and vitamin E. In addition, they may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Pecans provide vitamin B3 and E, as well as antioxidants. Studies have linked benefits to the digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems, as well as anti-cancer properties.
How Do I Add More Nuts to My Diet?
We suggest adding more nuts to your diet gradually, working them into the types of dishes you already enjoy (see The Pickled Beet’s nut-crusted chicken cutlets recipe below.) Remember to keep portion control in mind as nuts, while immensely healthy, tend to be high in calories.
Bonus: My Recipe for Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
Want a tasty way to add nuts to a healthy and delicious chicken dish? Try this chef-approved recipe:
Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
Makes 4 servings
8 chicken cutlets
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
1 shallot, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves removed
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
black pepper, to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Process nuts in food processor until they resemble coarse meal, about 20 one-second pulses. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown and has nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and ground nuts; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish or pie plate and stir in lemon zest, thyme, and cayenne.
Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper together in second shallow dish or pie plate.
Place flour in third shallow dish or pie plate.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture, pressing gently so that crumbs adhere. Transfer breaded chicken to clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.
Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut lemon into 4 wedges.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.
The Pickled Beet can incorporate various nuts into many recipes for our Miami clients who desire to increase their nut intake. We work with individuals, couples, and families to find meals that are flavorful, healthy, and best fuel the body no matter what nutritional requirements might be part of the equation. Contact us for a free consultation.