Senior Health

5/11/2022 | By Terri L. Jones

Nuts may feel like a decadent treat thanks to their rich flavor and ability to fill you up quickly. However, while high in calories, most nuts are loaded with healthy (unsaturated) fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can have a positive impact on your health. Benefits of healthy nuts – walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios – include improving cardiovascular/heart and brain health, easing aching joints, strengthening bones, increasing energy, and preventing weight gain – to name a few.

It’s OK to be nuts about these healthy nuts:

1. Walnuts

The nut that’s a dead ringer for the brain with its wrinkles and folds can also have a positive impact on your cognitive health, thanks to omega-3 fats, along with vitamin B-6, and antioxidants such as vitamin E, flavonoids, ellagic acid, gamma tocopherol, and melatonin. These benefits include reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to Science Daily, these healthy nuts have also been shown to have a modest positive impact on LDL (bad cholesterol) and to relax blood vessels to lessen stress on the heart and to reduce blood pressure. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walnuts can lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to both arthritis and increased risk of heart disease.

2. Almonds

Almonds are ubiquitous in grocery stores – from the baking section in the form of flour to the dairy section, in liquid form, to pour on your cereal or drink by the glassful. The monounsaturated fat in these healthy nuts can help reduce inflammation and LDL, while increasing HDL, the good cholesterol. And because almonds have more fiber than most nuts, they can help you manage your weight. WebMD says a one-ounce serving delivers the same amount of calcium as a 1/4 cup of milk, along with phosphorus to keep your teeth and bones strong.

healthy nuts in bowls, photo by Fiveph Dreamstime. Healthy nuts – walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios – benefit heart and brain health, joints, bones, increase energy, and more.

3. Cashews

The third most-consumed tree nut in the United States, cashews have been associated with lower cholesterol, thanks to their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (although they also contain some saturated fats). These healthy nuts are also rich in potassium and vitamin B6, which are heart-healthy nutrients. The copper, magnesium, and manganese in cashews can also boost your energy and immunity, protect your brain, and help strengthen your bones.

4. Pistachios

One of the lowest-calorie healthy nuts, pistachios are loaded with the fiber, protein, and unsaturated fat you need to increase energy, manage your weight, and keep your heart healthy. In addition, these nuts contain calcium and vitamin K to keep your bones strong. In a Turkish study, pistachios were also found to help men with erectile dysfunction. Plus, pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, which helps carry oxygen to cells through the bloodstream, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Choosing pistachios in their small, easy-to-pop-open shells can slow you down a bit and keep you from over-indulging.

More good news: Peanuts as a nutritional powerhouse

Raw or roasted nuts are similar in nutrient content. Enjoy this snack in moderation because of the calories. Also, consider nut butters, which make it easier for your body to absorb the nut’s beneficial nutrients.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones