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A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits

Which nuts are worth adding to your daily routine?

A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits A Guide to Nuts: Shelling Out the Benefits
Nuts are nothing new—humans have noshed on them for hundreds of thousands of years—but this natural snack is experiencing a new wave of fabulous food PR of late.

Why are nuts coming out of their shells, you ask? Well, in general, they are filling, chock-full of nutrients and pack some surprising health benefits.

So let's crack open a few of the most popular ones to learn which are worth adding to your daily routine. Check out the slideshow above for photos of different varieties, and read on to learn the amazing benefits of nuts.

Brazil nuts: With the modern appeal of a Paleo diet, Brazil nuts are gaining popularity—18 percent of each seed (that’s right, you’re eating a seed rather than an actual nut) is pure protein, and the rest is comprised of the good fats your body needs in order to boost brain power. Just two Brazil nuts a day hold your daily requirement of selenium, a mineral that helps synthesize (or make the very best use of) all that protein. Brazil nuts are also beneficial to fertility in men. They have been shown to reduce infertility and actually increase testosterone levels.

Pistachios: Ah, the celebrity nut of the bunch. Stephen Colbert, Snooki, Snoop Dogg and even Kermit the Frog have gotten behind the pistachio, all extolling its high levels of vitamin B6, antioxidants and potassium. And if you’re concerned about your weight, shelling this fiber-rich snack will slow your consumption while filling you up.

Walnuts: Walnuts are winners in several categories. They are crazy good for your skin (and have been attributed with anti-aging effects, cell regeneration and even sun protection). They are wonderful for your heart, providing tons of the omega-3 fats you need. And they can even help you even out your sleep patterns, as a natural source of melatonin.

Pecans: The antioxidants in pecans are thought to prevent gallstones in women and help lower cholesterol. They also are rich in omega-6 fatty acids … but use them sparingly—they are the second-most caloric of the nuts on our list.

Peanuts: The most prolific of nuts is naturally free of trans-fats and sodium, and a wonderful source of folate. Folic acid is essential to the synthesis and repair of our DNA, so it’s an especially important nutrient for pregnant women and has been credited for protecting against potential birth defects.

Macadamias: This particular nut packs the most calories and fat of any on our list, so use sparingly. And when you do, be careful of errant macadamias rolling onto the floor, as they are toxic to dogs. But oh so delicious to our taste buds.

Hazelnuts: We’re not giving you an excuse to have a shot of hazelnut sugar syrup pumped into your morning coffee, or condoning the hazelnut chocolate truffle cake on the dessert menu for health reasons (though we really, really wish we could), but when eaten in the raw, hazelnuts are, in fact, a healthy snack. They are rich in protein, low in saturated fats, and great go-tos for thiamine, which converts sugar to energy, prevents cataracts and is great for both your brain and heart.

Chestnuts: Nut nutrients are great and all … but if you find it hard to get past the calories and fat content, allow chestnuts to be your gateway snack. As the skinniest, least caloric nut on the list, they have less protein than others, but are still a great source of vitamins B and C.

Cashews: Cashews are one of the easiest nuts to add to your diet; a handful goes a long way in a salad or stir-fry, and as they are starchier than most nuts, cashews are great for cooking—think of tossing a few into a stew, soup or curry for extra body.

Almonds: Delicious in multiple forms, almonds are a must-eat for anyone who is lactose intolerant—rich in calcium, almond milk is now readily available in supermarket dairy sections.

More from Kitchen Daily:
How to Store Fresh Herbs
Ratatouille and Spring Vegetables
Sneaky Healthy: Mac 'n Cheese With Broccoli

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere. 

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