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The Healthiest Nuts on the Planet

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    To Reduce Your Cancer Risk: Brazil Nuts

    A single serving of Brazil nuts may be enough to boost your selenium status. So? Healthy levels of the mineral are associated with a decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, infertility, and other conditions. In one study, people who ate just two Brazil nuts per day for 12 weeks experienced a 60 percent boost in blood levels of selenium. According to researchers, the small serving of Brazil nuts is as effective as supplements at improving selenium levels and your body may even absorb it better from the nuts than from pills.

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    To Improve Your Memory: Walnuts

    It's no coincidence that they look like little brains: Eating walnuts may improve your memory, concentration, and information processing speed, according to a new UCLA study. Researchers found that people with the highest consumption of walnuts scored significantly better on a series of six mentally challenging tests compared with those who ate the least. Bonus: Just a handful of walnuts per day was enough to make a difference. Walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. And one ounce provides more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value of alpha-lineolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that may protect your thinker.

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    To Lose Weight: Almonds

    Almonds should be at the top of any dieter's go-to foods. People who consumed a serving of almonds per day shed more belly fat and experienced a greater decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol than those who downed a daily muffin containing the same number of calories, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Almonds may be small, but they're mighty: A serving of almonds packs hunger-fighting protein and belly-filling fiber as well as healthy unsaturated fats that help keep cravings at bay.

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    To Improve Heart Health: Macadamia Nuts

    One of the reasons Hawaii consistently ranks among the healthiest states in the country may have to do with all those macadamia nuts! Researchers found that a small handful of macadamia nuts per day for five weeks reduced total cholesterol by more than 9.4 percent and LDL (bad) cholesterol by nearly 9 percent, reports the Journal of Nutrition. The decrease in cholesterol was more than experts expected based on the amount of healthy fats alone, so there may be something else in macadamia nuts that protects your ticker. More research is needed to discover what that may be.

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    To Decrease Your Risk of Neurological Diseases: Pecans

    Feed your nervous system: A serving of pecans per day may keep neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and ALS at bay. In a study of mice bred to suffer a decline in motor neuron function, those whose diets were supplemented with pecans experienced a protective effect compared to critters that consumed nut-free eats, reports Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research. Pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and a rich source of vitamin E, which has been shown to provide neurological protection.

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    To Slash Your Risk of Diabetes: Pistachios

    Pop pistachios to better your blood sugar. People with prediabetes who ate a daily serving of pistachios experienced significant decreases in blood sugar levels and improvements in how their bodies processed insulin and glucose, according to a study in Diabetes Care. Pistachio eaters also showed a decrease in inflammation and a boost in glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone that helps control glucose levels, which may have helped stabilize their blood sugar.