Reader Questions: Crazy About Nuts

Reader Questions: Crazy About Nuts

Written by Alex Reid
Posted April 17, 2014

You Health Wire readers sure are passionate about your nuts!

My email inbox was flooded over the weekend with all sorts of messages from you guys...

Some people were pissed off about my piece on peanuts...

I'm a peanut farmer in northern Alabama, and I have to say your article is full of sh*t — Anonymous

Fortunately, Mr. Peanut Farmer, science isn't full of “sh*t”, but I do wish you much luck in your peanut growing endeavor (I honestly do — peanuts are great for fixing nitrogen into the soil, which is necessary to sustain other kinds of plant life).

Others were curious if their favorite nut was also considered healthy...

Good article about nuts.  What is your opinion of cashews? — Bill W.

Hey Ken, I noticed walnuts didn't make your list. My doctor told me they'd help decrease my risk of prostate cancer — who's right here? — Reggie C.

So I know Pecan Pie may not be the best for you, but what about plain old pecans? I love to pop a few of these in my mouth to snack on. — Karen S.

Fret not, worried readers! Today you're reading Healthy Nuts Part II, where I will show you 5 more nuts to round out the top 10 healthiest nuts of all time — including many of your mentioned favorites...

1) Cashews: It's hard to find a party mix without these guys in there. Fun fact — cashews are covered by a shell that contains urushiol, the same toxic irritant found in poison ivy. That is why you never see cashews in their shells (they then roast the nuts to destroy any of the urushiol that may be left behind). Cashews happen to be the nut richest in magnesium1 — people deficient in magnesium tend to be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches2.

2) Walnuts: Reggie's doctor was somewhat correct — recent evidence has shown that mice who consume walnuts regularly show both fewer and smaller prostate cancers3. But while we await human trials on that issue, other research on our species has found that walnuts can help protect your blood vessel walls from damage4, and may also help prevent type 2 diabetes5. They also happen to be a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.

3) Pecans: When you dump pecans, dough, and sugar together, you get the unhealthy mess known as “pecan pie”... But pecans by themselves happen to be rich in antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and promote heart health6. Pecans also happen to be rich in manganese — and I would argue they're one of the tastier nuts out there.

4) Coconuts: Most people don't think of coconuts as nuts — but they are, and they're one of the best sources of healthy fats out there. Coconuts (especially the oil) contain medium chain triglycerides, which happen to be one of the healthiest forms of saturated fats out there. About 90% of the fat contained in coconut consists of saturated medium chain triglycerides. These fats have been shown to have metabolism boosting effects, boost immune system and thyroid function, and reduce epileptic seizures7 — to name a few benefits!

In tribal populations that consume lots of coconuts and few processed foods, we see a lower rate of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than we'd see in a Western country8. You'll also find coconuts to be a great source of iron, copper, manganese, and selenium.

5) Pistachios: Taking the time to shell these green nuts is totally worth it for the taste and the health benefits. They happen to be rich in vitamins E and A, which are two antioxidants associated with heart health9. Because of their protective benefits on the blood vessels, they may also help men with erectile dysfunction10. Just remember — while these nuts make excellent addition to salads or as snacks, you won't see much of a benefit when you're eating them with marshmallows...

pistachio salad

This is not the healthiest way to eat pistachios!

The important thing — whichever or these nuts you choose, make sure you enjoy them. Despite what Big Food manufacturers want you to think, there is such thing as being tasty and healthy!

Yours in health,

ken_signature

Ken Swearengen

P.S. Do you have any questions, concerns, or comments about this article or any other health topic? Please share them with me via Twitter @HealthwireKen, or "Like" our HealthWire Facebook page and post your message on our wall.

Notes:

[1] http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1004d.shtml

[2] http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h7

[3] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716120026.htm

[4] http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/walnuts-protect-adults-heart-disease-study-article-1.1467665

[5] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/walnuts-for-diabetes/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

[6] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110224145607.htm

[7] http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/your-ultimate-guide-to-coconut-oil-benefits-types-uses/

[8] http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

[9] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520092942.htm

[10] http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-food-pistachio-nuts-may-improve-erectile-function.html

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