Art_Photo/Shutterstock There 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 Nuts
g215/Shutterstock Nicknamed 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.