Almonds

  • A great source of Vitamin E — 1/2 cup of almonds provides more than twice the daily requirement of vitamin E
  • More calcium and fiber than any other nut
  • High in iron
  • The most versatile of nuts, almonds blend well with other ingredients both savory and sweet. They're delicious eaten as a nutritious snack and enhance virtually every food with their distinctive taste and satisfying crunch.
  • Toasting almonds heightens their rich flavor and also makes them extra crunchy. To toast: Spread whole almonds in a shallow pan and toast at 350°F for 8 to 12 minutes (5 to 10 minutes for slivered, sliced, or chopped almonds), until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan to cool. The nuts will continue to brown slightly.
  • When you're purchasing almonds in the shell, look for clean shells free from cracks. Almonds without shells should appear uniform in color and size. One pound is equal to 3 cups of whole almonds, 3 1/3 cups chopped, 3 1/2 cups slivered, and 4 1/2 cups sliced.
  • Almonds are a powerhouse of nutrients. While high in calories (160 per ounce, about 20 to 25 nuts), they have the best ratio of important nutrients-to-calories of any nut.
  • In August 2002 a study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, found that when 27 people with high cholesterol ate one or two handfuls of almonds daily for a month, they reduced their LDL levels between 4.4 and 9.4 percent.

Pistachios

Pistachios
  • High in Vitamin B6 – 20% of the daily recommended value!
  • Contains more antioxidants than one cup of green tea
  • Pistachios are a low calorie, low fat, high fiber nut
  • One cup of pistachios contains as much calcium as a cup of milk. The same goes for almonds.
  • Fun Fact: All pistachios are tan, but imported ones are usually dyed red, and some domestic varieties are bleached white
  • Try adding to chicken salad. Yum!

Walnuts

Walnuts
  • A good nut for omega-3s (a "brain booster")
  • Rich in homocysteine-controlling vitamin B6.
  • Great for snacking, baking, cooking or in salads. Try adding to rice or pasta dishes.
  • Walnuts (along with a few other nuts, like almonds) contain plant sterols, which have been shown to lower cholesterol. They also contain a natural compound called resveratrol, the same one found in red wine and shown to lower heart disease risk.
  • One study found that a diet that includes unsaturated fats from almonds and walnuts may have 10 percent more cholesterol-lowering power than a traditional cholesterol-lowering diet.
  • Researchers found that eating 1.6 ounces of walnuts a day for six weeks lowered LDL and total cholesterol, and also decreased dangerous low-density LDL by 27 percent.

Pecans

Pecans
  • A good nut for omega-3s (a "brain booster")
  • A nice choice for baking or in salads. Try adding to applesauce or rice dishes
  • One study found that eating two handfuls of pecans a day for four weeks lowered LDL by 10 percent.
  • Got pecans still in their shell? Pecans can be tough nuts to crack. And once you do crack them, it can be tough to dig out the meat. To help the shelling process, soak the nuts in salt water for several hours before shelling, and the meat will come cleanly away from the shells.
  • One drawback: Pecans are high in calories.