Are nuts healthy?

Story highlights

  • Eating nuts daily can cut risk of heart disease by nearly 30%
  • Walnuts have a significant amount of essential omega-3 fatty acids

(CNN)Yes, nuts are a very healthy snack food and pack a big bang for the bite in terms of their nutrients.

Nuts are rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol; plus, they are a good source of phytosterols, compounds that help lower blood cholesterol.
They are packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium.
    Walnuts are a winner among nuts, because unlike their siblings, they have a significant amount of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for skin health. They also contain the most antioxidants compared with other nuts, according to a study from the American Chemical Society.
    Because they are high in fat, nuts are also calorie-dense. A small handful goes a long way. But the fat, along with protein, is satiating and helps slow rises in blood sugar. That can prevent cravings for sweets and other carbohydrate-rich foods. In fact, research suggests that nuts may help with appetite control, which can prevent weight gain or even help with weight loss.
    Research has also shown that eating nuts daily may help us live healthier lives. A 2016 analysis of 29 studies and up to 819,000 people revealed that 20 grams of nuts a day -- equivalent to a handful -- can cut people's risk of heart disease by nearly 30%, their risk of cancer by 15% and their risk of premature death by 22%.