The Best Nuts and Dried Fruit You Can Eat
Dried fruits and nuts are all the rage these days and are highly accessible. They’re in all of the grocery stores and are touted as quick ways to have a healthy snack, but the reality is that all dried fruit and nuts aren’t created equally and while grabbing a 100-calorie handful of nutrient-packed handful of nuts and dried fruit trumps chips and candy every time, some dried fruit and nuts are healthier than others. Find out what the best nuts and dried fruit you can eat for overall health, wellness, and weight maintenance.
Health Benefits of Nuts
Let’s start with nuts because these are the veritable building blocks of your grab-and-go fruit and nut snack. There are many health benefits of nuts. Nuts have a lot of nutrition. They’re high in omega-3 fats and consuming them lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides. They’re also high in fiber (even though they’re considered high-calorie), which means they can aid in weight loss.
High fiber foods tend to digest more slowly than other foods, which means that you’ll feel full longer and thus be less ravenous come your next meal when your midday snack consists of nuts.
Eaten in proper proportions, nuts every day can have nothing but health benefits; however, nuts can lead to weight gain if you are eating too many per day. As noted, they do have a high calorie content. Thus, it’s important to eat the right kind of nuts when you eat nuts and stick to a serving.
The Healthiest Nuts to Eat (and Why)
Among the different kinds of nuts, as noted, some are healthier than others, so when it comes to the many different kinds of nuts, you need to choose wisely. These are some of the healthiest nuts overall (and why).
- Almonds pack 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and almost half of your daily Vitamin E intake. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects your cells and your immune function. Almonds are also associated with lowering your bad cholesterol levels, your heart disease risk, and your waistline. Almonds also promote good gut health as they aid your digestive system in growing good bacteria.
- Pistachios also have 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. They have over 20% of vitamins B1 and B6 (vital for metabolism and immune function) as well as carotenoids useful for anti-inflammation.Pistachios as a snack alternative have been shown to expedite weight loss and to boost antioxidant levels.
- Walnuts have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. They have half of your needed copper intake (copper is vital for neurotransmitter synthesis and energy production). Walnuts are ideal for lowering cholesterol and boosting heart health. They may also abet in brain function and reduce risk of developing dementia.
- Peanuts are technically a legume, but they are a staple in many nut mixes and are highly accessible. Peanuts boast 7 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, and upwards of 20% of vitamins B3 and B9. They’re great for feeling full and are associated with heart health.
- Hazelnuts have 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber and 76% of your daily manganese values. These are full of antioxidant compounds like gallic acid, caffeic acid, and quercetin. These are being increasingly studied but are associated with lower heart disease risk and lower cholesterol.
- Cashews have 5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. They have 8% of your vitamin K requirement, 20% of magnesium and manganese. Cashews are shown to improve metabolic syndrome issues and contribute to a reduction in belly fat. Blood pressure and triglyceride levels are also shown to be lowered.
What are the Best Seeds to Eat?
You’ve likely noticed that a lot of nut mixes also include seeds. While the pack might come with healthy nuts, you should ask “are the seeds healthy?” These are the seeds you need to put on your healthy nuts and seeds list.
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Seeds are packed with vitamins and nutrients as well as protein and fiber (just like nuts) that are key in reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol. Combined, this healthy nuts and seeds list consumed even a few times per week will have a noticeable impact on your health, snack habits, and physique over time.
What Kind of Dried Fruit is Best?
We’ve delved into the different kinds of nuts and the best seeds; now, let’s look at which dried fruit is best. Dried fruit is dehydrated, so it has the same amazing health benefits as fresh, but it lasts longer. The biggest critique of dried fruit comes down to sugars as some dried fruits have added sugars and some that are part of commercial nut packs are more or less candied dried fruits as opposed to being simply dehydrated.
Look for dried fruits with no additional sugars. Also, aim to eat those that are highest in antioxidants and nutritional value like:
Now that you know what the best nuts and dried fruit you can eat are, you can make informed decisions with grab-and-go packs. You can also create your own blends to enjoy at home over yogurt or just as a daily snack. Just make sure to portion out your nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and consume only one serving per day. This will help you maximize all of the incredible health benefits without any of the negatives.
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