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The 10 Healthiest Nuts and Their Remarkable Health Effects

 It’s no news to most of us that nuts are good for you. Furthermore, you probably already know that nuts are a great source of protein and healthy plant fatty acids, as well as a multitude of vitamins and minerals that your body craves so much. And while that’s all fine and dandy, why not go beyond this blanket statement and find out which nuts are the healthiest, and most importantly, why? Since each nut variety has its own nutritional content and benefits, knowing them will help you choose the varieties that meet your nutritional needs the best and enjoy a crunchy treat that will benefit your body the most.

Why Is Everyone So Nuts About Nuts?

The 10 Healthiest Nuts woman holding different nuts in her hands
Nuts are so unique and highly valued by nutritionists and consumers alike because they’re as nutritious as they are easy to incorporate into your diet. They contain protein, plant fats (including omega 3 fats), fiber and different minerals and vitamins all in one compact package. Nuts are easy to add to meals, just sprinkle some chopped nuts on any dish, drink more plant milk or indulge in nut butter more often.
It’s the ultimate grab and go snack that will give you lots of energy and isn’t overloaded in sugar. That being said, when you’re eating salted or caramelized nuts, you’re also getting the not so beneficial effects of sugar and sodium, so it’s best to go for the unsalted and unsweetened variety. Probably the only two drawbacks with nuts is that many people are allergic to them and that you shouldn’t eat too much, but that’s true about other foods as well.
Below we list the 10 healthiest nuts and explore their nutritional and health benefits.

1. Pistachio

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Pistachio
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 grams), roughly a handful of Pistachios:
  • Calories: 156
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 5.8 g
  • Fats: 7.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Vitamin E: 3% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin B6: 18% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI

​Funnily enough, the first nut on this list is botanically-categorized as a seed of the pistachio tree, but its nutritional content is so close to that of other nuts we typically consider it a nut. Nut or not, pistachios have been found to reduce one's risk of cardiovascular disease and to prevent blood pressure spikes after a meal. They're also high in fiber and vitamin B6, which make them a great option for vegetarians and seniors since both are commonly deficient in B vitamins.

2. Almond

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Almonds
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 grams), roughly a handful of Almonds:
  • Calories: 162
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Fats: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.1 g
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 13% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 19% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 8% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 34% of the RDI

​Almonds are outstanding for one's health, as they've been found to aid weight loss, reduce inflammation in the body and even to improve bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in some studies. Apart from that, consuming almonds may help with sugar spikes in type 2 diabetes and promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

3. Macadamia Nut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Macadamia Nuts:
  • Calories: 200
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Fats: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 9% of the RDI
  • Copper: 11% of the RDI
  • Iron: 6% of the RDI

​Macadamia nuts are among the richest in monosaturated fats, which are exactly the fats that help prevent high LDL cholesterol, blood sugar spikes, and even overeating, so these creamy, crunchy nuts will be beneficial to those who want to lose some weight or want to prevent the development of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular issues. Finally, macadamia nuts contain compounds called tocotrienols, which may protect brain cells from degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

4. Hazelnut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Hazelnut

Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Hazelnuts:

  • Calories: 176
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Fats: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
  • Copper: 24% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 87% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

​​Hazelnuts are slightly lower than most nuts in protein, but they are full of other beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, and their sweet taste makes them the perfect complement in desserts. There are also some studies suggesting they can help normalize cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. Finally, hazelnut consumption is associated with lower cancer occurrence, so it may help protect from certain cancers.

5. Brazil Nut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Brazil Nut
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Brazil Nuts:
  • Calories: 182
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fats: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 26% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 100% of the RDI

​Brazil nuts have a very impressive nutritional profile, as only one nut a day is enough to provide you with enough selenium, but brazil nuts are also high in other essential minerals that have many health benefits. For one, the high selenium content in the nuts may help you become more concentrated and helps prevent thyroid issues. Studies have also found that brazil nuts are beneficial to cognitive health and may prevent cognitive decline, but be careful not to eat more than 3-4 nuts a day - the high selenium content may make you feel sick.​

6. Cashew

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Cashew
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Cashews:
  • Calories: 155
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fats: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

​Cashews are especially high in antioxidants. Apart from that, people suffering from metabolic syndrome may benefit especially from this nut, as studies have shown that they can decrease blood pressure and improve digestion among these patients. For more info about the nutrients in cashews, cashew nut butter, and many other nuts and seeds, follow this link: The Ultimate Health Guide to Nuts and Seeds.

7. Pine Nut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Pine Nuts
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Pine Nuts:
  • Calories: 188
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3.8 g
  • Fats: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7 g
  • Vitamin E: 13% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 100% of the RDI
  • Folate: 9% of the RDI

​Pine nuts may be tiny, but they're packed full of healthy nutrients, particularly antioxidants and lutein, with the latter having a beneficial effect on eyesight. Just a handful of pine nuts may also help with appetite control and contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. For more information about these nuts and an idea of how to include them in your diet, read the article 8 Health Benefits of Pine Nuts.

8. Walnut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Walnuts
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Walnuts:
  • Calories: 182
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fats: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Vitamin E: 3% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 8% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 6% of the RDI

​As you may have noticed, walnuts have more calories than a lot of other nuts on this list despite being quite low in carbs. This is because walnuts are packed with healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats and alpha-linoleic acids. These fats may account for their observed beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and inflammation. Also, the little nuts don't just look like brains, they can also good for your brains, having a beneficial effect on reasoning skills, as found in this study. We explore further health benefits of this tasty nut in the article 8 Health Benefits of Walnuts.

9. Peanut

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Peanut
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Peanuts:
  • Calories: 176
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fats: 17 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Vitamin E: 21% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 19% of the RDI
  • Folate: 10% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 29% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 10% of the RDI

​Peanuts are interesting, as they're not tree nut per se, they're actually legumes, but their nutritional profile is very similar to that of tree nuts, which is why we think of it as a nut. Peanuts are affordable, easy to find, and are just as nutritious as any other nut on this list. It's rich in various antioxidants and amino acids, both of which are associated with the prevention of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. One longitudinal study found that eating unsweetened peanut butter made women less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

10. Pecan

The 10 Healthiest Nuts Pecan
Image Source: futurestreet/ Flickr
Nutrients in 1 serving (28 g), roughly a handful of Pecans:
  • Calories: 193
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Fats: 20 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Vitamin E: 2% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 7% of the RDI

​Like many other nuts on this list, pecans are full of healthy nutrients, such as polyphenol antioxidants, and according to research, people who ate plenty of pecans had 20% more antioxidants in their blood than those who didn't. This is kind of amazing, as antioxidants can guard your body against all kinds of degenerative diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Finally, pecans have been associated with skin-boosting benefits, possibly due to its high antioxidant and adequate zinc content.



Related Articles:

The Health Benefits of Vegetables & Greens

The Health Benefits of Different Fruits

The 10 Healthiest Beans and Other Legumes​

The Remarkable Health Benefits of Berries​

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