Nut enthusiasts (let’s not call them ‘nut nuts’) everywhere must be delighted - the poor old nut rarely gets the best press; they’re too fattening; they’re too salty; they’re too boring.
But they’re also very, very healthy.
“Nuts are a great snack because they contain a wide variety of important nutrients and are high in fibre meaning they will fill you up quickly, reducing your overall daily calorie intake," says Dr Christian Jessen.
"Nuts like pistachios are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins and phytochemicals – all of which may offer cardio protective, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties."
Their benefits don’t stop there though; here are five more brilliant reasons to get nibbling on some nuts…
“Walnuts contain a good source of the omega 3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (AHA), which is converted to EPA and DHA in the body and has been shown to be beneficial to heart health,” explains Hobson.
“They’re also especially rich in ellagic acid which is an antioxidant that’s been linked to inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.”
“Cashews have the greatest source of magnesium, which is involved in lots of chemical reactions in the body and is required to keep bones healthy, heart beating steadily, maintains normal muscle and nerve function and immune system strong,” says Hobson.
“This mineral is often used by women to help with the symptoms of PMS, too,” he adds.
Anything else? Of course… “Cashew nuts provide more than 3g of iron per 50g serving, making them a brilliant snack for people with low stores of this mineral - low iron intake is a common problem for nearly a quarter of women in the UK and can lead to tiredness and fatigue.
“Most nuts are also a good source of copper which is used to help with the uptake of iron in the body.”
Almond milk is all the rage now, and it’s very easy to see why.
“Almonds contain a useful source of calcium (120mg of calcium per 50g) which makes them a useful addition to the diets of vegans or people who are intolerant to dairy,” stresses Hobson.
“They also make brilliant 'milk' when blended with water and a little maple syrup. Almonds and hazelnuts provide over 70% of the RDA for vitamin E in a serving.
“Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps to protect the body from free radical damage and has been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers. This vitamin is also essential to maintaining a healthy strong immune system and protecting cell membranes (hence it's link to skin health).”
And as yet another added bonus: almonds are particularly low-calorie for a nut, and unsweetened almond milk has less than half the calories of skimmed dairy milk.
Brazil nuts are especially good for men, since they’re packed with selenium. Just one nut can contain more than a day’s recommended amount of the mineral, which is thought to protect against prostate cancer and other diseases.
Selenium also boosts your immune system, and helps wounds to heal.
That said, do eat them sparingly, as too high levels of selenium could be linked to type 2 diabetes.
Considered the most slimming nut, one pistachio is said to have only four calories. Plus, because you have to remove them from their shell it actually slows down your eating.
"Nuts in shells, like pistachios, are also a great way of helping you control your weight and watching what you eat.," says Dr Christian. "The very act of ‘shelling’ them immediately makes you aware of how many you are eating and research has shown that the fat in pistachios isn’t completely metabolised, meaning we absorb fewer calories.”
Packed with potassium (good for healthy nervous systems) and vitamin B6 (lifts your mood), they also contain a cancer-busting form of Vitamin E.
Which is your favourite to snack on? Tell us your favourite in the Comments box below.
Dr Christian Jessen is supporting American Pistachio Growers this World Pistachio Day (26th February). For more information on the health benefits of pistachios, please visit American Pistachios.