By Carl Hanson

About 80 percent of the calories in nuts comes from fat. So eating nuts to maintain weight sounds counter-intuitive, right? But that's what nutrition research is showing. More good news: the type of fat found in nuts is the heart-healthy kind.

Here are 5 surprising findings about nuts.

1. Eating nuts may actually help control weight.

Research is showing that eating nuts may help prevent weight gain. How is this possible? Very likely it's the unique triad of protein, fiber, and healthy fats that we find in nuts. The fiber helps make you feel full initially, while the protein and fat keep you feeling that way longer, reducing cravings. Just a handful can make you feel full for a while -- so you may not eat as much at mealtime. Also, nuts may lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Mixed Nuts | Photo by Meredith

2. Nuts are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Nuts are heart healthy because they're loaded with unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), plus sterols that improve blood cholesterol, and an amino acid that keeps blood vessels in good shape.

Walnuts are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids | Photo by Meredith

3. Peanuts are an inexpensive alternative to pricey nuts -- and just as good for you.

Inexpensive peanuts are linked to the very same health benefits as their more expensive cousins. Peanuts are high in protein, contain resveratrol (the wonder compound also found in red wine), and have an unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio that's similar to olive oil.

Homemade Peanut Butter | Photo by KGora

Related: 12 Easy Dinners From A Jar Of Peanut Butter

4. Nuts are much more than just the healthy fats.

We've talked about the healthy fats. But nuts are also loaded up with soluble fiber, folate, and antioxidants, plus potassium, magnesium, copper, and vitamin E.

Pecans | Photo by Meredith

5. Nuts may help you live longer.

With all of the good stuff that nuts are packing, it's no surprise that they are linked to increased longevity. Fact is, people who eat nuts frequently are less likely to die of any cause (not just heart disease) than folks who rarely eat nuts.

This crunchy, colorful Chopped Cashew Salad is a great way to get your fruits, veggies, and nuts--all in one dish!

And, finally, is there a particular nut that's better than others? Not really. The benefits are spread across the spectrum of nuts. So try a variety. And watch out for added salt! Most health professionals recommend unsalted nuts.

Check out our collection of Healthy Recipes.