In "The Nut Job," a bad-mannered squirrel named Surly (he's very surly) plans a heist of a nut store run by gangsters. When chaos ensues, it takes a brush with death for the overeager cartoon character to learn that nuts are all about goodness - to be shared with others. That's a lesson everyone could benefit from, because nuts can help you stay healthy inside and out. And you don't have to worry about their fat content (good fats!) or calorie count (just stick with a small handful a day).
Here's the top three - and what one serving a day can do for you.
Walnuts (as well as almonds) are a seed. They're rich in gamma tocopherol, are the only nut with an appreciable amount of omega-3, and have 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid per ounce, which may promote heart and prostate health. Some animal studies indicate that eating walnuts may slow the growth of cancer cells. Others have found that it can protect blood vessel walls from damage.
Pistachios are a fruit! Eating them daily seems to help lower LDL cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar control, reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of lung and other cancers.
Almonds can help people with Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome avoid complications. And they act as a pre-biotic, which helps healthful gut bacteria and is good for your immune system.
Rule of thumb? Don't go too nuts - 14 shelled walnut halves, 49 shelled pistachios or 24 shelled almonds equal one serving.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.