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Nice summary article about the known benefits of nuts and seeds, and the nutrients they contain. Bottom line: all nuts and seeds are beneficial to health. It's best to eat a variety of nuts, and eat some nuts daily or at least a few times a week. A typical serving is 1/4 cup or small handful of nuts. Go to the article for the complete nut and seed list and a nut and seed nutrient chart. From Today's Dietician:

The Wonders of Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds have been part of the human diet since Paleolithic times. A few nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and seeds, namely flax and chia, get most of the glory, but the fact is each nut and seed brings something beneficial to the table. While exact nutrient compositions vary, nuts and seeds are rich sources of heart-healthy fats, fiber, plant protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and other bioactive compounds, including an array of phytochemicals that appear to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

A wealth of data from prospective observational studies and clinical trials suggest that tree nut consumption reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Moreover, there may be benefits for cognitive health. Adding support to these findings is research suggesting that incorporating tree nuts in the diet lowers the risk of conditions that contribute to disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Various components of nuts, such as heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals may work together to offer protection against oxidation, inflammation, cancer, and CVD.

Recent findings from the PREDIMED trial suggest that a Mediterranean diet that includes one serving of nuts per day protects against heart attack, stroke, or death from other cardiovascular causes in people at high risk due to type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. PREDIMED data also suggest that eating more than three servings of nuts per week reduces risk of death from all causes, especially if also following a Mediterranean diet. Subjects who frequently consumed both total nuts and walnuts had a lower rate of death from cancer....While the number of nuts per serving varies by type, a typical serving is 1 oz or about 1/4 cup or a small handful (palm of the hand only)....

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which may explain their association with lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduced heart disease risk. The antioxidant function of the vitamin E (37% DV in 1 oz) in almonds along with their magnesium and potassium also may play a role in cardiovascular health. One study found that almonds may reduce LDL as much as statins.

Brazil and cashew nuts: Technically a seed, 1 oz of Brazil nuts contains a whopping 767% DV for selenium. That's over the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 400 mcg. But eating two Brazil nuts per day has been shown to be an effective way to increase blood levels of this antioxidant mineral healthfully. Cashews are lower in fat than most nuts and contain anacardic acid, which may improve insulin sensitivity and help prevent chronic inflammation.

Pecans contain multiple forms of vitamin E and are especially rich in gamma-tocopherol, which has been shown to inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL contributes to inflammation in the arteries and is a risk factor for CVD. Pecans also have the highest polyphenol and flavonoid content of the tree nuts.

Pistachios: Two studies have shown that eating in-shell pistachios enhances feelings of fullness and satisfaction while reducing caloric intake. When eating in-shell pistachios, study subjects consumed about 40% fewer calories compared with pistachio kernels. Pistachios have the second highest polyphenol and flavonoid content of the tree nuts. 

Walnuts are another excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also boast the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts, followed by pecans and cashew nuts. This makes walnuts one of the best nuts for anti-inflammatory benefits. Like pecans, walnuts are unusually rich in the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E. ... Walnut consumption among NHANES subjects is positively associated with cognitive function in both younger and older adults. They're a natural source of melatonin, which is critical in the regulation of sleep, circadian (daily) rhythms, and may play a role in walnuts' anticancer benefits.

A newly published study reviewed 61 studies that looked at daily tree nut consumption on cardiovascular risk factors and found many health benefits. Tree nut (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts) consumption lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and ApoB, the primary protein in LDL cholesterol. It appeared that nut dose is more important than nut type in lowering cholesterol. The beneficial health effects are greater at about 60 grams (about 2 oz or 2 servings) or more nuts consumed per day, but positive health effects are also found at one serving per day. Five studies found that 100 g nuts per day lowered concentrations of LDL cholesterol by up to 35 mg/dL - an effect size comparable to some statin regimens.

Tree nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, soluble fiber, antioxidants, and phytosterols, which produce beneficial effects on serum lipids, blood pressure, and inflammation. Most studies have looked at walnut and almond consumption, but studies found positive benefits for all types of nuts consumed. From Medical Xpress:

Study finds tree nut consumption may lower risk of cardiovascular disease

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming tree nuts, such as walnuts, may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. After conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 controlled trials, one of the authors, Michael Falk, PhD, Life Sciences Research Organization, found that consuming tree nuts lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and ApoB, the primary protein found in LDL cholesterol. These are key factors that are used to evaluate a person's risk of cardiovascular disease. Walnuts were investigated in 21 of the 61 trials, more than any other nut reviewed in this study.

"Our study results further support the growing body of research that tree nuts, such as walnuts, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases," said Dr. Falk. "Tree nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Walnuts are the only nut that provide a significant amount (2.5 grams per one ounce serving) of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based form of omega-3s."

Beyond finding that tree nuts lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and ApoB, researchers also found that consuming at least two servings (two ounces) per day of tree nuts, such as walnuts, has stronger effects on total cholesterol and LDL. Additionally, results showed that tree nut consumption may be particularly important for lowering the risk of heart disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Of 1,301 articles surveyed, 61 trials met eligibility criteria for this systematic review and meta-analysis, totaling 2,582 unique participants. Trials directly provided nuts to the intervention group rather than relying solely on dietary advice to consume nuts. The dose of nuts varied from 5 to 100 g/day and most participants followed their typical diet.

To celebrate National Nut Day, two articles about health benefits of nuts. From Medical Daily:

National Nut Day 2014: Peanuts, Tree Nuts, And How Each Helps Your Health

For people who already eat plenty of meat and dairy products…nuts and ‘nutty’ legumes, like Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts and walnuts, are a good nutritional alternative to meat,” Dr. Donal Murphy-Bokern, independent agri-environmental scientist and author of several studies on food system impacts, said in a statement. Heeding this advice means people can reap the benefits that come with eating nuts — Protein! Fiber! Omega-3 fatty acids! 

Nuts fall into two categories: peanuts (which are really legumes) and tree nuts. The latter includes Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and America’s beloved almonds. ...” And existing research generalizes that eating nuts does everything from reduce risk for a slew of diseases, maintains weight, boosts gastrointestinal and bone health, even adds years to a person’s life.

As previously mentioned, nuts are pretty much equal in terms of calories. There are, however, some nuts that have more heart-healthy nutrients and fats than others. See: pistachios. This particular tree nut is high in healthy fats called monounsaturated fats (MUFA). MUFAs are often associated with belly fat.

One study published in the journal Nutrition found that when middle-aged adults at risk for heart disease and diabetes incorporated more pistachios into their diet, they weighed less and lessened their cholesterol and blood sugar levels after just six months. And a separate study from UCLA found people who regularly ate pistachios lost an average of 10 to 12 pounds. Almonds and cashews are additional nuts high in MUFAs. 

The Harvard School of Public Health reported, “several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week.”

Though almonds tend to be associated most with heart health, it’s actually walnuts that take the number one spot. ...Health reported a 2006 Spanish study, which “suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal.”

Folate, as defined by Harvard Medical School, is “the naturally occurring form of the vitamin that is in foods or in the blood.” It’s also the vitamin that staves off brain atrophy, or the progressive loss of brain cells over time... A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found folate may ward off depression, too. And which nut is super rich in folate? Unsalted peanuts...peanuts are also high in vitamin E and niacin, both of which boost brain health. Hazelnuts and almonds are known to have concentrated amounts of E, too, so either nut is bound to help your noggin.

Study done in mice, but shows benefits of walnuts to brain. From Science Daily:

Fight against Alzheimer's disease: New research on walnuts

A new animal study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicates that a diet including walnuts may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, slowing the progression of, or preventing Alzheimer's disease. Research led by Abha Chauhan, PhD, head of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), found significant improvement in learning skills, memory, reducing anxiety, and motor development in mice fed a walnut-enriched diet.

The researchers suggest that the high antioxidant content of walnuts (3.7 mmol/ounce) may have been a contributing factor in protecting the mouse brain from the degeneration typically seen in Alzheimer's disease. Oxidative stress and inflammation are prominent features in this disease, which affects more than five million Americans.

Walnuts have other nutritional benefits as they contain numerous vitamins and minerals and are the only nut that contains a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (2.5 grams per ounce), an omega-3 fatty acid with heart and brain-health benefits. The researchers also suggest that ALA may have played a role in improving the behavioral symptoms seen in the study.

Research finding benefits from various foods. From Science Daily:

Drinking decaf or regular coffee maybe good for the liver

Researchers report that decaffeinated coffee drinking may benefit liver health. Results show that higher coffee consumption, regardless of caffeine content, was linked to lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes. This suggests that chemical compounds in coffee other than caffeine may help protect the liver. Previous studies found that coffee consumption may help lower the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

From Science Daily:

Did fruit contribute to Apple's success?

Steve Jobs swore by a fruit diet, as he believed it improved his ideas. And he wasn't wrong: food with high levels of tyrosine, like bananas, peaches and almonds, allow us to think harder and more creatively.

The researchers found that the test subjects who drank orange juice with added tyrosine were better at solving puzzles than those who were administered a placebo. Tyrosine is an amino acid that increases the production of dopamine in the brain, which positively influences our ability to think creatively. It can be found in various kinds of fruit, but also in soybeans, spinach, eggs and cottage cheese.

Done in mice, but interesting. And think of all the people who have promoted grapefruit diets over the years. From Science Daily:

Grapefruit juice stems weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet, study finds

Mice fed a high-fat diet gained 18 percent less weight when they drank clarified, no-pulp grapefruit juice compared with a control group of mice that drank water, a new study demonstrated. Juice-drinking mice also showed improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking counterparts.

Some good foods to eat for their health benefits. The following articles are from Science Daily:

Almonds reduce the risk of heart disease, research shows

Eating almonds can reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels healthy, research has shown. Research found that they significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. These findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits... "Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood. Previous studies have shown that they keep your heart healthy, but our research proves that it isn't too late to introduce them into your diet -- adding even a handful (around 50g) every day for a short period can help.

Could grapefruit be good for your kidneys?

A natural product found in grapefruit can prevent kidney cysts from forming, new research indicates. Naringenin, which is also present in other citrus fruits, has been found to successfully block the formation of kidney cysts, an effect that occurs in polycystic kidney disease, by regulating the PKD2 protein responsible for the condition. With few treatments currently available, symptoms include high blood pressure and loss of kidney function, and lead to the need for dialysis.

More evidence that dark chocolate is good for you. From Science Daily:

Polyphenols could yield small benefit for people with PAD

In a small study, people with artery problems in their legs (peripheral artery disease) walked a little longer and farther when they ate dark chocolate -- a food rich in polyphenols.The authors suggest that compounds found in cocoa -- polyphenols -- may reduce oxidative stress and improve blood flow in peripheral arteries....Many other polyphenol-rich foods would offer less added sugar, saturated fats, and calories than dark chocolate, such as cloves, dried peppermint, celery seed, capers, and hazelnuts, to name a few.