5 best Christmas nuts for the holiday season

Raw and roasted nuts are good for you— in moderation — and the best way to eat them is fresh out of the shell. Discover your best options for the holiday season.
Between the inevitable nut-laden fruit cakes and candied Christmas nuts (not to mention nutty relatives) it's easy to be awash in nuts during the holiday season.

5 best Christmas nuts for the holiday season

Tradition of nuts at Christmas

In many families, it’s still a holiday tradition to find a handful of unshelled walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts and filberts in the bottom of gift stockings. This undoubtedly stems from the European tradition of scattering nuts during holiday festivities and historical references to nuts as a religious symbol.

There’s a good reason why the nutcracker is one of the most enduring Christmas icons. Households to this day often present a big bowl of unshelled, mixed nuts as a centerpiece of the festive table. And it just wouldn’t be Christmastime without the sound of cracking shells as part of the holiday soundtrack.

Health benefits of nuts

Demonized in the past for their fat levels, more recent research has boosted nuts to the top of the food pyramid. They've become dietary superstars thanks to their high protein content and good (or heart-healthy) unsaturated fats.

Nuts also deliver a rich payload of vitamins and minerals considered essential to good health. Best of all, you can snack on raw nuts without feeling guilty as long as they’re not accompanied by too much eggnog.

Types of nuts

Raw nuts are healthy nuts but some types pack more nutritional punch than others. Nuts of all kinds are key ingredients in Christmas baked goods and vegetarian dishes.

1. Almonds

Credited with helping to normalize blood-sugar levels and assist with weight loss on low-calorie diets, almonds are also high in calcium. They're delicious roasted and ideal for use in holiday recipes.

2. Walnuts

The king of nuts, breaking the wrinkled shell is like cracking a tiny safe. Packed with healthy fats and compounds that protect against major diseases and depression, walnuts also raise levels of melatonin (a hormone necessary for sound sleep). Ground walnuts are used in holiday baking.

3. Filberts

Also known as hazelnuts, the small roundish filbert almost tastes roasted even when eaten raw. They’re rich in healthy, fatty acids and dietary fibre.

4. Pecans

Pass on the pralines and pie during the holidays and eat these raw to stock up on protein, fibre, potassium and a handful of essential vitamins.

5. Brazil nuts

These are noted for their high levels of disease-fighting selenium. Eating just a couple of raw Brazil nuts a day can offer protection.

Experts say the benefits of snacking on heart-healthy raw nuts far outweigh their high calorie count. When it comes to delivering high-quality nutrition, pound-for-pound, nuts are in a class by themselves. So grab a bag of nuts and get cracking!

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