It’s been said that walnuts are the oldest known tree food, dating back 10,000 years. Walnuts appear to have a wide variety of health benefits, plus they’re rich in certain phytochemicals – especially phenols, phytates and phytosterols – making them the top nut of all the healthiest nuts. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to anti-inflammatory benefits. Specifically, walnuts are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid associated with improved bone health and prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A year-long walnut-rich diet improved total and LDL cholesterol in obese women, as noted in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Walnuts may have more cardiac benefits, too. With powerful antioxidant qualities, proteins in walnuts fight colon and breast cancer cells, shown in a study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.
Almonds, the majority of which come from California, have been around since Biblical times and have been touted as one of the healthiest nuts (and foods in general) for nearly as long. And with good reason. The Journal of Nutrition published research showing reduction in body weight, abdominal fat and blood pressure in obese individuals after eating 15 per cent of their kilojoules from almonds for 12 weeks. Additionally, a 2017 study done in India showed better glucose control, improved levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, and reduced waist size in adults with diabetes eating almonds for just three weeks. Almonds are also great sources of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and folate. Snack on them as is, or get the health benefits of almonds through almond butter, almond flour and almond milk.
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The world consumes a lot of pistachios each year, the majority of which come from Iran. A study published in Metabolism showed significant improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetic adults 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 people with diabetes. As reported in Diabetes Care, the people with pre-diabetes had improved insulin resistance and inflammatory markers as well. The anti-inflammatory benefits may come from pistachios’ phytochemicals, such as phenols, proanthocyanidins and flavonoids.
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