Selecting the best nuts for your health

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A new review of 25 trials published in the American journal Archives of Internal Medicine on May 10 found that snacking on nuts daily could help blood cholesterol levels. Here is a healthy guide to help you select the best nuts to incorporate into your diet.

Nuts have a high amount of fat so it is easy to fill up on them without eating excessively, also they help keep hunger at bay. The study from Loma Linda University found 2.4oz (56.7g) of nuts per day to help in total cholesterol reduction.

According to a Canadian community nutritionist Anita Romaniw with the Fraser Health Authority:
- Walnuts are highest in omega-3 fatty acids and a good source to help lower cholesterol
- Almonds are a great source of bone-building calcium
- Brazil nuts are high in the antioxidant selenium, linked to helping prevent some cancers
- Chestnuts have the least calories and fat, while macadamia nuts have the most.
- Dry-roasted nuts have the same fat and calories as oil-roasted
- Nut butters have the same nutritional advantages as nuts
- Peanuts are similar to other nuts nutritionally, but are part of the legume family, which includes dried beans and peas.

SixWise, an empowerment blog, ranked the six healthiest nuts based on various research sites and articles including "The World's Healthiest Foods" and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here they are ordered healthiest to healthy: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts.

Here are some tips to select the best, freshest nuts and store them properly:
 - Avoid unshelled nuts with splits, cracks, and holes. Look for clean, crisp and plump ones.
 - Shelled nuts should feel heavy in relation to their size. If they rattle most likely they are stale.
 - If you find a cracked nut in a bag, take it out because it can cause mold and spread to the other nuts.

Remember 56g is a healthy handful, no need to go nuts, but according to the researchers at Loma Linda University there is good news because "research has shown that frequent nut consumption does not lead to weight gain."

Full study, "Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels: A Pooled Analysis of 25 Intervention Trials": http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/170/9/821

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