#5 CashewsArt_Photo/ShutterstockThere are many great reasons to eat nuts! But some have more health benefits than others. Let's start with cashews. Though they are, surprisingly, in the same family as poison ivy, cashews are a popular snack nut—and just as healthy as they are delicious. Cashews contain phytates with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the essential minerals phosphorous, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Recent research reveals that men and women with moderately elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol who consumed between 16 and 36 cashews daily, experienced a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol after one month. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the only published study to date linking cashews to improved blood lipids. But Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reported another study of a compound in the cashew nut—anacardic acid—that could improve how cells take in glucose, suggesting a potential benefit for diabetics.
#4 Macadamia Nutsg215/ShutterstockNicknamed the "Queen of Nuts," macadamia nuts are native to Australia. Cardiovascular benefits with decreased LDL cholesterol were reported in the Journal of Nutrition. When just 1 1/2 ounces (about 15 macadamia nuts) were substituted for snacks with the same amount of calories, total and LDL cholesterol levels improved. These improvements were demonstrated in adults who already had hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood), so snacking on a small amount of macadamia nuts instead of other snacks may be a beneficial lifestyle change. Another study, in Lipids, demonstrated a reduction in biomarkers for inflammation and oxidative stress in people who ate 15 percent of their calories from macadamia nuts, indicating possible prevention of coronary artery disease. Macadamia nuts are good sources of thiamine and manganese, too. In short: Macadamia nuts appear to have cardiovascular benefits, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to make them part of every heart-healthy day.
#3 PistachiosJIANG-HONGYAN/ShutterstockAmericans consume an estimated 45,000 tons of pistachios each year, the majority of which come from Iran. The health benefits of pistachios are varied, but they're clearly great for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes and also for those looking to lose weight. A study published in Metabolism showed significant improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides in adults with diabetes who ate pistachios every day for a month. Another group of researchers found that eating pistachios for four months improved blood sugar control in adults with pre-diabetes. Pistachios contain resveratrol, an antioxidant associated with better glucose levels in diabetes. As reported in Diabetes Care, the pre-diabetics had improved insulin resistance and inflammatory markers as well. The anti-inflammatory benefits may come from pistachios' phytochemicals, such as phenols, proanthocyanidins and flavonoids. Eating pistachios also improved waist size and fasting blood sugar, according to a study published in Nutrition. Pistachios are also a rich source of potassium, as are these other potassium-rich foods.
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