This Skin-Healthy Diet Tweak Is Totally Nuts
Nuts are loaded with antioxidants, essential fats, healthy minerals, nourishing vitamins, and gut-healthy fiber. They’ve been shown to protect against certain cancers, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help with weight management. But their benefits aren’t limited to improving your internal health. All those potent health-enhancers do wonders for your skin as well. If nuts don’t already figure in your diet, it’s time to tweak your habits. Here is our list of the most skin-friendly nuts and all the reasons you should be crazy for them.
In the hierarchy of the nut realm, the walnut is king. The crunchy crown jewel is loaded with antioxidant polyphenols that fight free radicals and help prevent them from damaging cells. The antioxidant content in walnuts is almost double that of other nuts, according to researchers. Plus, they’re rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids. Linoleic acid, which is often lacking in acne-prone skin, helps regulate sebum and supports the skin barrier.
Everybody’s favorite nut, the almond has earned its adoration. Its unique nutrient profile—protein, monounsaturated fats, essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium, all in a fiber-dense package—make the almond an A+ snack. It also ranks low on the glycemic scale and exerts its blood-regulating influence on other foods. Studies show that when eaten with high-glycemic foods like bread and pasta, the almonds keep glucose from spiking. That makes almonds excellent for protecting against the age-accelerating process known as glycation, in which sugar binds to proteins, causing collagen degradation.
The pecan growers claim that this nut, not the walnut, has the highest level of antioxidants, but according to the USDA, walnuts maintain a slight edge. Err on the side of glow, and eat both. In addition to their freakishly high antioxidant (and therefore age-defying) properties, pecans are an excellent source of vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, folate, and phosphorous, which support cellular health, collagen production, and a healthy skin barrier.
A favorite among bridge players and vegans, the cashew contains a laundry list of skin-loving minerals and bioactive compounds including oleic acid, linoleic acid, phytosterols, phenolics, tocopherols, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. Cashews are rich in zinc, a mineral that aids cell growth and tissue repair, protects against oxidative stress, and gives acne regimens a boost. They’re also good sources of selenium, which guards cell membranes, enhances the skin’s elasticity, and is an essential component in the enzyme glutathione, which regulates pigment. The most abundant vitamin in cashews is the cell-protecting antioxidant, Vitamin E. As with other nut varieties, leaving the skin on boosts the antioxidant value.
This Brazil nut is a selenium bomb. The elasticity-enhancing, melanin-inhibiting mineral is so abundant in Brazil nuts that a one-ounce serving (about six nuts), will give you double your recommended daily allowance of selenium. This bad boy also has plenty of antioxidant value and inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. Just eat it in moderation. When it comes to selenium, you can definitely get too much of a good thing.
If you’ve avoided nuts because you think they are high in calories and fat, remember that the unsaturated fats found in nuts are the good kind, and the fiber in nuts means they are digested slowly, curbing your appetite and helping you avoid cravings for other less healthy snacks. They are also are low in carbohydrates, which means they can be a net-positive for weight control in the long run. A study, published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, increasing nut consumption by just half a serving (14 g or ½ oz) a day is linked to less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity.
Just a handful of nuts (about an ounce) every day will help bring a healthy glow to your complexion and provide a whole range of other health benefits. Go nuts.
Your Nut Incorporation Plan:
For maximum nutrient value, eat nuts raw with the skins on.
Nuts will last longer when left in the shell. Already shelled nuts can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness.
Make your own trail mix with a variety of nuts, leaving out the sweet components, for healthy on-the-go snacks
Throw a handful of chopped nuts onto salads, stir-fries, cereals, and oatmeal for a delightful taste and texture boost. (Tip: cashews in coleslaw are the bomb!)
Swap finely chopped nuts for breadcrumbs or flour when dredging meat or fish.
Try nut oil in your cooking and/or salad dressings.
Discover nut butter! A dollop in your oatmeal, on toast, or as a dip is delightful. Avoid nut butters with added sugar.
Add nuts to bread, muffin, or cookie batters.
Everything’s better with nuts!