Pecans, Walnuts, And Other Nuts That Are Good For Your Health

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Sprinkle them on steel-cut oats, chop them up and use them to crust chicken and fish, or grind them into rich, creamy nut butter and spread them on bread for sandwiches — just make sure you're eating a handful of nuts every day. Nuts are a delicious source of many essential vitamins and minerals, can help you reach you recommended intake of protein each day, and have good fats that can keep you feeling fuller longer.

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Some nuts are better for you than others, but all contain a number of health benefits. One of the most talked-about benefits of eating nuts is that they are a good source of good unsaturated fat. Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, nutrition consultant and author of The Small Change Diet, says that "most contain... primarily 'good' fats." This good, unsaturated fat helps your body in a number of ways. Studies show that it improves blood cholesterol levels (which can decrease your risk of heart disease), it provides your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and it can take longer to digest than other foods, helping you feel fuller longer and eat fewer calories throughout the course of the day. But limit your consumption of nuts to a handful a day; nuts are high in calories, and one handful can easily provide you with up to one third of your recommended daily intake for fat.

Nuts are also a good source of protein. Whether you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet and need sources of plant-based protein, want to go meatless on Mondays, or simply want to bolster your protein intake, adding a handful of nuts can also add several grams of protein to your snack or meal. Almonds, for example, have 5 grams of protein per quarter cup — about 10 percent of the average adult's recommended daily value.

Nuts are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, too. Though the nutritional value of each nut varies, most are good sources of B and E vitamins, which aid in a number of things ranging from brain development and function to skin health.

Ready to start adding a handful of nuts to your diet each day, but unsure which ones are best? Here are a few to try.

AlmondsBrazil Nuts

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Almonds are truly a superfood, and they're very tasty to boot. Almonds are loaded with fiber, magnesium, protein, potassium, calcium, and zinc. They can also improve both heart health and blood cholesterol levels. As an added bonus, almonds help you feel fuller longer and can help you avoid consuming unnecessary (and unhealthy) calories.

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Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is believed to help protect again prostate and breast cancers, skin disorders, anxiety, and asthma and is crucial for thyroid health. Don't eat too many of these, though; eating Brazil nuts in large quantities may cause selenosis, also known as selenium poisoning. Thankfully, you only need one Brazil nut each day to get the recommended daily amount of selenium. 

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.