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What's in a Nut (Infographic)

Nuts for Your Heart

Any way you crack them, nuts can be good for you.

They’re health capsules, rich in protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In fact, nuts are one of the most heart-healthy foods around.

“There is a common misperception that nuts are unhealthy because they are high in fats,” says Julie Holbrook, MS, RDN, LDN, outpatient dietitian at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital. “Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol, and decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.”

What’s a Nut?

Tree nuts are the seeds or fruit of a plant. The most popular tree nuts with the greatest health benefits are:

  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts

Peanuts are considered legumes, but offer similar health benefits as tree nuts.

The problem with nuts? We often eat them with salt or chocolate, and in excess.

“The best way to reap the benefits of nuts is to eat them raw or dry roasted, rather than fried in oil or covered in candy coating,” says Holbrook. “A handful of nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter per day will improve heart health.”

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