What Are The Health Benefits Of Nuts And The Different Types

What Are The Health Benefits Of Nuts And The Different Types

Nuts are not only healthy and nutritious snack options but they also provide numerous health benefits.

In fact, nuts are a great source of protein and fiber and many studies have shown that eating nuts can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

With that in mind, today we are going to discuss the healthiest nuts you should incorporate into your diet and what benefits they provide.

Health Benefits Of Eating Nuts

Nuts are a great source of fat, protein, and fiber. Even though they contain some saturated fat, nuts have a higher percentage of monounsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can be beneficial for heart health.

Packed with minerals and vitamins, nuts provide numerous health benefits including reducing the risk factors of metabolic syndrome by lowering inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

An increase in nut intake can also improve blood sugar levels, thus reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

The healthiest nuts we included on our list provide all these benefits but also some additional ones we will discuss for each individual nut.

Which Nuts Are The Healthiest?

Generally speaking, all nuts provide numerous health benefits. But have you ever wondered what is the healthiest nut to eat?

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to discuss the best nuts for health, starting with the healthiest nut that shouldn’t miss from your diet.

We’re also going to take a look at the nutritional profile of nuts to see how many calories, protein, fat, carbs, and other nutrients you can get per serving (1-ounce serving).

Almonds

Almonds are arguably the healthiest nuts to eat. They are a great source of fiber and protein. Moreover, they have anti-inflammatory properties that not only lower body inflammation[i] but also help you maintain a healthy weight[ii].

Some studies have shown that almonds can lower LDL levels[iii] and have beneficial effects on intestinal microbiota[iv].

Nutritional Profile of Almonds

  • Calories – 164
  • Fat – 14g
  • Protein – 6g
  • Carbs – 6g
  • Fiber – 3.5g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Vitamin E – 37% of the RDI (recommended daily intake)
  • Magnesium – 19% of the RDI

 

Pistachios

Other healthy nuts you should incorporate into your diet are pistachios. Similar to almonds, pistachios can improve cholesterol levels and, as a result, contribute to heart health by decreasing heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight gain, and oxidative status[v].

Another important health benefit provided by pistachios is the ability to reduce blood sugar[vi] after a high-carbohydrate meal.

Nutritional Profile of Pistachios

  • Calories – 156
  • Fat – 12.5g
  • Protein – 6g
  • Carbs – 8g
  • Fiber – 3g
  • Sugar – 2.1g
  • Magnesium – 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 3% of the RDI

 

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can contribute to heart health. Several studies have also shown that walnuts can reduce bad cholesterol levels[vii] (LDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL).

Eating walnuts has also been associated with a decrease in other heart health risk factors, such as blood pressure[viii] and circulatory system problems.

Additionally, walnut consumption can also have beneficial effects on the brain[ix].

Nutritional Profile of Walnuts

  • Calories – 182
  • Fat – 18g
  • Protein – 4g
  • Carbs – 4g
  • Fiber – 2g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Magnesium – 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 1% of the RDI

 

Pecans

Pecans are very similar to walnuts but they are oftentimes used in desserts. However, the nutritional profile of pecans is quite good, which makes pecans great to eat on their own.

Like the other healthiest nuts we discussed so far, pecans can reduce LDL levels[x]. Pecans also contain polyphenols, compounds that act similar to antioxidants, and some studies found that people who eat pecans daily have improved levels of antioxidants[xi] in their blood.

Nutritional Profile of Pecans

  • Calories – 193
  • Fat – 20g
  • Protein – 3g
  • Carbs – 4g
  • Fiber – 2.5g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Magnesium – 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 2% of the RDI

 

Pine Nuts

An excellent source of iron and magnesium, pine nuts are highly recommended in vegan and vegetarian diets that are usually lacking iron.

Iron is responsible for oxygen transportation, thus it is an essential mineral[xii] that shouldn’t miss from anyone’s diet.

What’s more, is that pine nuts provide cardiovascular support[xiii] by reducing LDL levels and increasing HDL levels. Furthermore, pine nuts are high in vitamin E and K.

Pine Nuts Nutritional Profile

  • Calories – 190
  • Fat – 19g
  • Protein – 4g
  • Carbs – 4g
  • Fiber – 1g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Magnesium – 17% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 17% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K – 14.5 of the RDI

 

Cashews

Just like pine nuts, cashews are part of the tree nut family and they contain many important nutrients that are beneficial for our health. 

According to some studies, a diet high in cashews can reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It’s also important to note that consuming cashews can improve blood pressure levels[xiv] and increase the antioxidant status[xv] of people who have metabolic syndrome.  

Nutritional Profile of Cashews

  • Calories – 155
  • Fat – 12g
  • Protein – 5g
  • Carbs – 9g
  • Fiber – 1g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Magnesium – 20% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 1% of the RDI

 

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are packed with a wide range of nutrients and are a great source of monounsaturated fat. This explains the connection between eating macadamia nuts and heart health. Regular consumption of macadamia nuts can decrease heart disease risk factors[xvi], such as inflammation and oxidative stress.

A number of studies have also shown that a diet rich in macadamia nuts can lower LDL levels[xvii].

Nutritional Profile of Macadamia Nuts

  • Calories – 200
  • Fat – 21g
  • Protein – 2g
  • Carbs – 4g
  • Fiber – 2.5g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Magnesium – 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 1% of the RDI

 

Hazelnuts

Very popular and loved by many people, hazelnuts are also some of the healthiest nuts you can eat. They are nutritious and, like many other nuts, they can be beneficial for heart health.

Some studies found that a diet rich in hazelnuts can improve cholesterol levels[xviii]. In addition, the amount of vitamin E[xix] in the body also increases when eating hazelnuts.

Nutritional Profile of Hazelnuts

  • Calories – 176
  • Fat – 9g
  • Protein – 6g
  • Carbs – 6g
  • Fiber – 3.5g
  • Sugar – 1.2g
  • Vitamin E – 37% of the RDI
  • Magnesium – 20% of the RDI

 

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are not only some of the healthiest nuts but also an excellent source of selenium. Selenium is an important mineral that acts as an antioxidant. While selenium deficiency is rare, it can occur in people diagnosed with specific health problems, such as kidney disease.

Brazil nuts are particularly good for people with selenium deficiency[xx] but they can also reduce cholesterol levels and oxidative stress as well as improve the function of blood vessels[xxi] in overweight people.

Lastly, Brazil nuts can lower inflammation levels[xxii] and are a great source of magnesium.

Nutritional Profile of Brazil Nuts

  • Calories – 182
  • Fat – 18g
  • Protein – 4g
  • Carbs – 3g
  • Fiber – 2g
  • Sugar – 0g
  • Magnesium – 26% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E – 8% of the RDI

 

Peanuts

Peanuts are a very popular snack but, unlike the rest of the nuts we discussed today, they are not tree nuts.

They belong to the legume family but they provide similar health benefits to tree nuts because they have a comparable nutrient profile. Thus, peanuts can also contribute to heart health[xxiii]. Furthermore, some studies have shown that consuming peanut butter can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes[xxiv].

However, peanuts are usually salted, which can reduce some of the health benefits they provide. Therefore it is best to eat unsalted and unflavored peanuts.

Nutritional Profile of Peanuts

  • Calories – 176
  • Fat – 17g
  • Protein – 4g
  • Carbs – 5g
  • Fiber – 3g
  • Sugar – 1g
  • Vitamin E – 21% of the RDI
  • Magnesium – 11% of the RDI

 

The Bottom Line

Nuts contain a wide range of essential nutrients including minerals and vitamins. When incorporated into a healthy diet, nuts may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and chronic illness.

However, it is important to note that the healthiest nuts are minimally processed so they have no added ingredients or flavorings. To maximize the health benefits of nuts, it is important to consume unprocessed whole nuts.

They make great snacks but they can also be incorporated into salads or other healthy recipes.

[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22722891

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27807041

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12221048

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315808

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16580587

[vi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21364607

[vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19458020

[viii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19880586

[ix] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21923981

[x] https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(98)00602-6/abstract

[xi] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531706001278

[xii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/

[xiii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484644/

[xiv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16733237

[xv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17377830

[xvi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17437143

[xvii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10789609

[xviii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16969381

[xix] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331211089_Daily_Consumption_of_Oregon_Hazelnuts_Affects_a-Tocopherol_Status_in_Healthy_Older_Adults_A_Pre-Post_Intervention_Study

[xx] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20018488

[xxi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21619692

[xxii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24504745

[xxiii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12672709

[xxiv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12444862