Each nut has a unique nutritional value that adds something different to your diet. Research has shown that eating nuts daily can help you maintain a healthy body weight and lower the risk of many serious health conditions, including heart disease.
Nuts are perfect for all age groups, with their crunchiness enjoyed by kids and the elderly. We look at the 11 healthiest nuts and their benefits.
Although peanuts are not nuts (they are classified as legumes), they’re widely regarded as nuts. They are readily available and contain many essential nutrients like proteins, polyphenols, antioxidants, flavonoids, and amino acids. 100 grams of peanuts contain:
- Protein: 25.8 grams
- Fiber: 8.5 grams
- Vitamin E: 8.33 milligrams
The antioxidant properties of peanuts are due to the presence of molecules such as vitamin E, flavonoids, and chlorogenic acid (CGA), among others. Research has shown that CGA regulates glucose and lipid metabolism that can prevent certain disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and cancer.
Luteolin is the most abundantly available flavonoid in peanuts. It also has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anticancer effects. It plays a vital role in regulating blood glucose levels.
Like peanuts, pistachios are also technically not nuts. They are the seeds of the pistachio tree but are generally considered nuts with their crunchy texture and distinct flavor.
Pistachios are rich in protein and other nutrients and are also an abundant source of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.
A study published in 2016 found that eating pistachios may help regulate blood pressure and endothelial function, which is linked to a lower risk of heart-related conditions. 100 grams of pistachios contain:
- Fiber: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 20.2 grams
- Vitamin C: 5.6 milligrams
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 2900 micrograms
Lutein and zeaxanthin are known to enhance eye health. Research has shown that these molecules help resist an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that affects linear vision.
This typically occurs due to damage to the macula, a light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye that is part of the retina. This key network regulates the processing of light entering your eyes and the images formed.
Almonds have fast gained acceptance as a healthy food source due to their rich nutrient content. Although almonds have lower protein levels than some other nuts, they have several other essential nutrients. 100 grams of almonds contain:
- Protein: 21.2 grams
- Fiber: 12.5 grams
- Calcium: 269 milligrams
- Iron: 3.71 milligrams
- Magnesium: 270 milligrams
- Phosphorous: 481 milligrams
- Potassium: 733 milligrams
- Vitamin E: 25.6 milligrams
The vitamin E content in almonds makes it a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Vitamin E also plays a central role in your immune system functions and cellular communication.
Research has shown that regularly eating almonds may reduce the risk of certain factors linked to heart diseases.
A study found that people who ate two ounces (56 grams) of almonds daily reported considerably lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than a control group. The study involved more than 200 adults and was carried out over 12 weeks.
Hazelnuts have an exceptional flavor, making them a tasty addition to many sweet dishes. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of hazelnuts contain:
- Protein: 15 grams
- Fiber: 9.7 grams
- Vitamin C: 6.3 milligrams
- Beta carotene: 11 micrograms
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 92 micrograms
- Manganese: 6.18 milligrams
- Vitamin E: 15 milligrams
One ounce (roughly 28 grams) of these nuts supplies 86% of your daily manganese needs and 21% of your daily vitamin E needs. Studies have shown that eating hazelnuts improves vitamin E concentrations in the blood.
Research has also found that hazelnuts contribute considerably to lowering the risk of heart disease. One study indicated that those who ate hazelnuts regularly reported reduced cholesterol levels by roughly 8%, lower triglycerides by 7%, and increased HDL cholesterol (known as good cholesterol) by 6% as compared to the control group.
Cashews have traditionally been one of the more popular nuts. Thanks to their crunchy and creamy texture, they have been widely used in both sweets and savories. The rich nutrient value of cashews endows it with many health benefits. 100 grams of cashews contain:
- Protein: 18.2 grams
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Copper: 2.2 milligrams
- Manganese: 1.66 milligrams
- Magnesium: 292 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 593 milligrams
A single ounce of cashews gives you 31% of your daily copper needs, 23% of your daily recommended manganese levels, 20% of magnesium, and 17% of your daily phosphorus needs.
The fat content in cashews is lower than in many other food sources. The fat content in cashews is good for your heart. Research indicates that 80% of the fats in cashews are made up of mono and polyunsaturated fats that promote heart health.
Brazil nuts are one of the most nutritious nuts and are especially rich in selenium, a mineral known for its antioxidant properties. 100 grams of Brazil nuts contain:
- Protein: 14.3 grams
- Fiber: 7.5 grams
- Selenium: 1920 micrograms
A 2013 study found that a single serving of Brazil nuts lowered the bad cholesterol levels and increased the good cholesterol levels within nine hours. A separate Canadian study indicated that the high selenium content in Brazil nuts could lower lung cancer risk in those with low selenium levels.
With a distinctly sweet, buttery flavor and a strong aroma, pecans are increasingly recognized for their cardiovascular benefits. They are rich in manganese and other essential minerals and vitamins. 100 grams of pecans contain:
- Protein: 9.17 grams
- Fiber: 9.6 grams
- Manganese: 4.5 milligrams
Fiber is an essential source of energy for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract and acts as prebiotics. A fiber-rich diet promotes the growth of good bacteria, which leads to improved gut health.
These bacteria also convert fiber into short-chain fatty acids that reduce the risk of digestive disorders and heart diseases.
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Macadamia nuts are enjoyed by many as an evening snack due to their sweet buttery flavor and crisp exterior. They are high in fat and have several vitamins and minerals like thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, calcium, and iron. 100 grams of these nuts contain:
- Protein: 7.91 grams
- Fiber: 8.6 grams
- Thiamin: 1.2 milligrams
- Manganese: 4.13 milligrams
- Potassium: 368 milligrams
- Calcium: 85 milligrams
- Iron: 3.69 milligrams
A study involving 17 participants revealed that eating macadamia nuts even for a short time may reduce markers linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. Another study identified a positive impact of macadamia nuts in reducing the total and bad cholesterol levels in 25 adults with high cholesterol.
Walnuts have a distinctive taste and structure and are an important source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. 100 grams of these nuts contain:
- Protein: 15.2 grams
- Fiber: 6.7 grams
Walnuts are a rich plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and help improve brain activity.
There’s a lot of research on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in preserving your brain's cognitive health and lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
According to research, one of the main reasons for this effect is that omega-3 fatty acids can cross the blood-brain barrier and make essential nutrients available to the brain.
Pine nuts are a wholesome snack that can be eaten roasted or raw. They’re also rich in several nutrients, with 100 grams of pine nuts containing:
- Protein: 13.7 grams
- Fiber: 3.7 grams
- Magnesium: 251 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 575 milligrams
- Potassium: 597 milligrams
With their high fiber and protein content, pine nuts are a healthy snack option. Moreover, pine nuts' high magnesium content is linked to a lower risk of type-2 diabetes.
Chestnuts have a deliciously sweet, subtle taste. They can be included in many dishes, including salads and soups. Though there are different varieties of chestnuts, the most common are the American, European, and Chinese chestnuts. 100 grams of chestnuts contain:
- Protein: 3.17 grams
- Fiber: 5.1 grams
This prevents the sudden presence of sugar in the bloodstream that could cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
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Why Is It Hard to Find Brazil Nuts?Brazil nuts are native to areas around the Amazon in the regions of Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. From there, they are exported to other places all over the world. They are edible seeds derived from one of the tallest trees in the world.