5 Fitness-Friendly Nuts to Add to Your Diet

5 Fitness-Friendly Nuts to Add to Your DietNuts are a great “anytime” snack. Even though they’re high in calories, research shows that people who munch on nuts are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t make nuts a part of their diet. In addition, eating moderate amounts of nuts, about a handful a day, appears to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

There’s more good news for nut lovers. New research shows that nuts raise levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to curb appetite and boosts your mood. So which nuts should you choose? Certain nuts seem to have particular “strengths” when it comes to keeping you healthy and fit. Here are five “fitness healthy” nuts to eat after a workout or as a snack along with their health benefits.

Health Benefits of Nuts: Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidant vitamins. When you work your muscles hard at the gym, your muscles generate free radicals, rogue molecules that damage cells and contribute to muscle soreness. Almonds are like knights in shining armor that help to replenish your body’s antioxidant stores of vitamin E. A quarter cup of almonds supplies almost half of a day’s requirement for vitamin E. One more reason to add them to your nut mix.

Calorie-Friendly Pistachios

Pistachios are a heart-healthy nut that lowers LDL-cholesterol, but they’re also the lowest calorie nut in the nut bin. An ounce of pistachios has only 158 calories, and there are about 49 of these crunchy nuts in an ounce. There’s more good news. Most people don’t absorb all of the fat and calories in pistachios, which makes them even lower in calories from the perspective of what your body uses. No wonder people call them the “skinny nut.”

Waistline-Friendly Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts have the distinction of being the nut highest in monounsaturated fats, healthy fats that lower LDL-cholesterol, the kind of blood cholesterol that lodges in the walls of arteries and can trigger a heart attack. Some research suggests that substituting monounsaturated fats for saturated fat and eliminating processed carbs helps to reduce visceral fat, the most dangerous kind of belly fat from a health standpoint. Even though macadamia nuts are heart-healthy and, possibly, waistline-friendly, don’t overdo it. They’re also the nut highest in calories with 203 calories in a single ounce.

Muscle Benefits of Walnuts

Walnuts are another heart-healthy nut because they contain an omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid. Unfortunately, most people can only convert a small percentage of alpha-linolenic acid to the more powerful omega-3s, EPA and DHA, found naturally in fatty fish. Still, walnuts are an excellent source of antioxidant polyphenols that keep inflammation in check, including muscle inflammation after a workout. They also reduce inflammation inside arteries that can lead to a stroke or heart attack, and they’re a good source of muscle-building protein. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal before a morning workout.

Selenium-Rich Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are one of the best foods sources of a trace mineral called selenium. Why is selenium so important? A small study showed that selenium reduces levels of lipid hydroperoxides after exercise, a marker for antioxidant stress. Selenium is one of the most important antioxidant minerals, and some studies suggest that it may lower the risk of some types of cancer. It’s safest to get selenium by eating natural food sources like Brazil nuts since some studies suggest that selenium supplements could raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Health Benefits of Nuts: The Bottom Line?

Enjoy a handful of mixed nuts every day to keep your appetite at bay and help recover from a workout – and don’t forget to include these five fitness-healthy nuts in the mix.



News-Medical. “Fat in pistachios may not be readily absorbed by the body”
Food Funct.2012, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C2FO10152A.
World’s Healthiest Foods website.
Nutraingredients.com. “Selenium may ease post-exercise oxidative stress in overweight people”
Medscape.com. “Selenium Supplements May Increase Risk for Type 2 Diabetes”


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