A lot of nuts tend to be high in fat and calories, so you may think they’re not the best choice for a healthy health-712980_640diet. But research shows that people who eat nuts tend to have a lower risk of many diseases, from breast cancer to heart disease, than those who don’t eat them. It has even been suggested that eating a handful of nuts each day could extend your life! But what makes them so good? And which types of nuts are the healthiest?

When you think of Pecans you may well automatically think of the delicious yet high-fat pecan pie. But these nuts are just under 200 calories per 1oz (28g) serving, which also contains 3g of fibre and an amazing 19 vitamins and minerals including, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. They are also a rich source of oleic acid, the same kind of fatty acid found in olive oil. Early studies suggest this acid may help suppress one of the genes thought to trigger breast cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, pecans are a great source of antioxidants.

Hazelnuts are around 180 calories and 3g of fibre per 1oz, and are a good source of copper, magnesium, thiamin and vitamin E. The contain high levels of proanthocyanidins, a type of plant compound that are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, eating hazelnuts can help lower LDL cholesterol.

Pistachios contain 160 calories and 3g of fibre per oz, and are a great source of copper, manganese and vitamin B6, as well as other nutrients. Pistachios can help with hearth health and weight management as well as boosting your health in general. Another great idea is to choose in-shell pistachios, because not only does it take you longer to eat them as you remove the shells, but the growing pile of little shells is a reminder of how many you’ve eaten!

They may be high in fat, but Macadamia nuts, at around 200 calories per 1oz serving improve overall diet quality by adding nutrients that are often missing in typical American diets. A good source of thiamin and manganese, they are good for your heart as they can help lower the risk of coronary heart disease in people with elevated cholesterol levels.

Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium there is. Just two of these large nuts can provide you with your daily requirement of this antioxidant, which is believed to have anti-cancer properties as well as helping maintain a healthy immune system. High in copper, phosphorus and manganese, unfortunately brazil nuts have a high fat content (19g per 10z serving, of which 4g is saturated fat), so they’re less heart-healthy than other nuts and best enjoyed in moderation. But hey, nobody’s perfect!

Walnuts are a superfood for good reason. They provide 4g of protein and 2g of fibre per 180-calorie 1oz serving, together with magnesium and phosphorus. Studies have shown that walnuts help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels, and current research suggests that women who eat walnuts seem to have a lower risk of type two diabetes. They also contain high levels of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, so are a great choice for vegans and vegetarians.

So, why not go nuts today!