Consider packing some of these nutritional nut options for your next paddling picnic. Photo: @ocpaddleboard, Instagram

Consider packing some of these nutritional nut options for your next paddling picnic. Photo: @ocpaddleboard, Instagram

Paddle Healthy | Go Nuts

Packed with a multitude of minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fat, fiber and more, nuts pack mighty nutrition for their tiny size. As a regular part of your diet, (and in moderation, of course) nuts have major disease-fighting power and can provide a variety of nutrients we sometimes lack in meals. Here, we fill you in on the dietary benefits of various nuts we recommend adding to your paddling lunch pail.

High in protein and the best source of fiber when it comes to tree nuts, almonds pack around three grams per ounce (women are suggested to get 25 grams a day and men at 38 grams). When consumed regularly, almonds help lower the risk of heart disease, and, are also a good source of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, and magnesium. Did we mention that an ounce of almonds supplies half of your daily vitamin E intake (which is 20mg or 30 IU’s a day). Almonds are also great sources of antioxidants, as they're rich in flavonoids and polyphenols (the same antioxidant found in green tea).

The leader in antioxidants and most nutrient-dense nuts, pecans are powerful when added to your diet. With upwards of 19 vitamins and minerals, pecans help prevent a whole host of diseases, from various forms of cancer, to ALS (also called Lou Gehrig's disease), to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, even coronary heart disease. When bought unsalted, they're completely sodium-free, and, they're an easy way to get fiber—one serving (18 to 20 halves in this case) boasts 10 percent of your suggested daily intake.

Macadamia Nuts
Maybe macadamia nuts aren't the most nutritious of nuts, but in my opinion, they're the most delicious—and they do have some great health benefits. 'Mac' nuts have a lot of the 'good' fat, HDL, however, they are calorie-rich, offering little carbs and protein. They're high in oleic acid—an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid—which is the same fatty acid that's also found in olive oil. While they're 72 percent oil and contain 21 grams of fat per serving (which is around an ounce), on the upside, they're packed with vitamin B1, and about an ounce provides about 58 percent of your suggested daily intake of manganese.

With less than four calories per nut, pistachios are the lowest in calories of any other nut. They're also chockfull of gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E), a cancer-fighting antioxidant, as well as vitamin B6 (18 percent of your suggested daily intake, to be exact). Pistachios also contain beta-carotene and lutein, which help prevent eye disease like macular degeneration. Other minerals in pistachios that do the body good include magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous and thiamin.

Walnuts are winners in the world of nuts, and they're praised for good reason. The buttery-tasting nut is rich in the only type of omega-3 fat you'll find in a plant-based food, alpha-linolenic acid, which is particularly important for good bone health. Walnuts are also a good source to take in magnesium, phosphorus, and melatonin, as well as to combat inflammation and help maintain cardiovascular health. On top of the aforementioned benefits, walnuts also support the immune system with the help of the powerful antioxidant, ellagic acid , in addition to helping maintain weight, and good health in the brain and male reproductive system.

Brazil Nuts
With a single Brazil nut, you may not stave off hunger, but you will possibly help prevent prostate, bone, breast or other types of cancer because just one finger-like nut contains a full-day's worth of selenium—a trace element with antioxidant properties known to ward off cancer and other diseases (but can also be harmful if ingested in high amounts, so moderation is key). Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium, and, a recent study has also shown that consumption of Brazil nuts may help improve blood sugar control for those with type 2 diabetes. Though packed with monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol, these nuts are also high in saturated fat, so stick to just munching a few.

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