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5 Nuts You Should Eat and 5 You Shouldn't

Nuts have a bad reputation because most of us eat highly salted packets with high-fat content. Any processed packets such as dry-roasted, salted, honey-roasted or chilli flavour are full of calories, have high-fat content and are packed with salt. They're OK as a snack, but don't eat them every day. However, eating other types of nuts may improve your health. Benefits include a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as lower cholesterol levels.

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Nuts You Should be Eating: Acorns

Can you believe that acorns are on the list? They're good for you, but we don't expect many readers to bother with them because of the preparation time. You need to remove the meat from the shells and then soak them to remove the toxic tannins. When they turn brown, acorns become edible. They're packed with protein, healthy fats, calcium and vitamin C. They help provide a balanced blood glucose level, and, of course, they're widely available.

Nuts You Should be Eating: Hazelnuts

You get a healthy dose of fibre and vitamins A and B with hazelnuts. They help lower bad and increase good cholesterol levels. Eating them is also good for the environment as they're one of the most sustainable nuts to grow. They don't need much water, they can thrive in harsh soil, and they only require minimal upkeep. They're also good for the environment because they remove a lot of carbon from the atmosphere.

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Nuts You Should be Eating: Walnuts

Walnuts shouldn't just be a treat. Make them part of your regular diet, and you'll be taking in a lot of vitamin E. You'll also get a lot of healthy fats, which helps maintain a healthy heart. Some believe they help reduce your risk of a heart attack, but that's not been proven. However, they are good for our mental health. They contain omega 3 oils that are shown to raise serotonin levels in the brain. Walnuts have more antioxidants than you'll find in any other nut, which is good for fighting heart disease and the effects of premature ageing.

Nuts You Should be Eating: Pistachios

There is a lot of nutrition in Pistachios. They're high in fibre and protein, and one ounce will give you the same potassium as you'll get from a banana. They help manage blood glucose levels and keep your cholesterol levels where they need to be. Add them to your diet, and you'll lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You can gorge on these without worry about calories. A serving of 49 nuts is 160 calories.

Nuts You Should be Eating: Pecans

The last nut on the eat list is vastly underrated. You might have only eaten them in pecan pie. If so, that's a shame as they're packed with antioxidants that help protect your heart, as well as healthy fats that lower your cholesterol. Some studies suggest they can help you manage your weight, while other research shows they can help prevent age-related motor neuron degeneration.

Nuts you Shouldn't Eat: Cashews

There's lots of fibre and protein in cashews, but that comes at a price for those who harvest them. The majority of the cashews that end up in our supermarkets come from India and Vietnam, where the process of picking them is hazardous for low-paid workers. The cashew apples have several layers that need to be discarded. Each layer is toxic. An article by Time magazine showed that labourers often work cashew harvests in Vietnam in forced labour camps.

Nuts you Shouldn't Eat: Macadamia

A one-cup serving contains 1,000 calories. You can easily munch through half your day's suggested calorie amount without noticing. The same serving also comes with 102 grams of fat. That's more than your daily recommended intake.

Nuts you Shouldn't Eat: Horse chestnuts

These nuts are poisonous. Horse chestnuts have a toxin that makes you vomit. In a large enough dose, you could be paralysed. Some unhelpful folk like to write online about leaching out the toxins from horse chestnuts. Technically you can, but don't bother. If you find nuts on the floor, they're likely to be horse chestnuts. They're poisonous to animals too, so the wildlife knows to leave them well alone.

Nuts you Shouldn't Eat: Bitter Almonds

Bitter almonds can be deadly. They're apricot kernels. They're used to give an almond flavour to marzipan, but don't eat them raw. They're filled with cyanide when they're raw. The preparation process removes the cyanide, but if you absorb it, you'll cause damage to your heart and brain and any other organ that uses oxygen as cyanide prevents your cells from using oxygen.

Nuts you Shouldn't Eat: Peanuts

We've left this one till last because it's most likely the nut you eat the most of. Peanuts are a common enough snack, and you'll find vitamins and nutrients in them, but they're also packed with calories. Half a cup is a fifth of your daily intake of calories. They're salty and packed with fat. They're definitely a snack to avoid.

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