October 22 is National Nut Day.
Unlike other national food days, this is one where you can partake without guilt. And with the dozens of edible varieties available, there’s sure to be one you can enjoy.
"Eating tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts may help prevent cancer," said William Li, a physician and scientist at The Angiogenesis Foundation. "Nuts contain cancer-fighting polyphenols that boost our immune systems to fight cancer, and they also have healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which can starve cancer by cutting off its blood supply."
"Research has shown that people who eat more nuts and seeds have longer telomeres, which means that eating nuts can slow down our cellular aging," he continued. "Nuts also have a lot of fiber which activates our healthy gut bacteria, which boosts our immune system."
Here are some quick nutrition facts about five nut types that are top sellers in the U.S.
Almonds are a leading import and export, according to commodity data published by the USDA’s Economic Research Service. And there’s good reason for it being so. Whether almonds are eaten raw or are turned into butter or milk, the nut has a list of health benefits.
"Almonds are the nut with the highest amount of vitamin E which are a certain type of antioxidant that may aid in reducing inflammation in the body and improving cognitive function," said Danielle Talenti, who is a registered dietician at the Philadelphia-based Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance.
This nut breed is also a high source of calcium, magnesium and potassium, according to Jerry Bailey, who is a doctor and clinical director at Lakeside Holistic Health.
Cashews grow from tropical evergreen trees and are filled with fiber, plant proteins, heart-healthy fats and minerals.
"Of all the nut types, cashews are the highest in magnesium," Telenti said. "Low levels of magnesium in the body have been associated with inflammation so adding cashews to your daily diet will likely aid in reducing inflammation."
Peanuts are technically legumes and are not a true nut, but that doesn’t stop the snack from ending up in the nut aisle in grocery stores. Nor does it stop peanuts from being the most consumed nut in the world, according to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.
"Eating 1.5 ounces per day of peanuts along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of heart disease," Talenti said. "This benefit may come from the healthy unsaturated fats and fiber that peanuts contain."
Pistachios are delicious with and without salt. These shelled green nuts can help boost energy, maintain muscle and lower your risks for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.
"As many Americans are shifting to a plant-forward diet, a new analysis revealed that pistachios are now considered a complete plant protein – meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids," Talenti said.
Walnuts aren’t just good for baking cookies, they’re good for you, too. These nuts grow on a variety of trees throughout North and South America, southern Europe, Asia and the West Indies, and offer a list of health benefits – from improving elasticity in blood vessels and lowering LDL cholesterol, according to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.
"Walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 essential fatty acid," said Kiran Campbell, a Michigan-based registered dietician. "The high concentration of ALA makes this nut a great choice for heart health."