Nuts offer numerous health benefits, from supporting a healthy heart to potentially protecting against cancer – find out which nut is packed full of calcium, which has the lowest fat and calorie content and which makes the perfect addition to a plant-focused diet.

Nuts may offer numerous health benefits, such as reducing your risk of heart disease and supporting your immune system. Some types of nuts include almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.

Each type of nut offers different nutritional benefits. For example, peanuts, almonds, and pistachios, all contain different nutrients, but can all form part of a healthful, balanced diet.

The healthiest nuts are packed with a variety of nutrients like unsaturated fat, protein, fiber, and more. “There are many health benefits to nut consumption, including weight management, reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, supporting the immune system, and improving cognition.

 What Are Nuts?

Nuts, being nutrient-dense foods, are edible seeds enclosed in a hard shell that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Their nutritional benefits include being rich in antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Culinary uses of nuts are versatile, ranging from snacking to being used as toppings in salads, cereals, and baked goods. However, it is crucial to be aware of potential health risks associated with nuts, such as high calorie and fat content, which may contribute to weight gain if consumed excessively.

Nuts are nutrient dense, edible seed kernels encased in a hard shell; and include almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios, as well as cashews, pine nuts, pecans, macadamias and Brazil nuts. Although chestnuts (Castanea sativa) are tree nuts, they differ from the other common varieties because they are starchier and lower in fat. Often thought of as a ‘nut,’ peanuts are technically legumes, just like peas and beans.

Top Healthiest Nuts?

Almonds

Almonds have become increasingly popular in recent years, and they are now readily available in many places. They contain slightly less protein than peanuts, but make up for it with other nutrients.

Almonds may be the perfect snack for people who are looking for a healthful, protein-rich alternative to potato chips or pretzels.

A 1-ounce (23 kernels) serving of almonds contains:

  • Calories: 164
  • Fat: 14.1 grams
  • Protein: 6.01 grams
  • Fiber: 3.54 grams
  • Vitamin E: 48% of the DV
  • Manganese: 27% of the DV

Brazil Nuts

Just one of these super-size nuts, among Jones’ top nut recommendations, can offer more than your daily value for selenium, an essential component that plays a key role in reproduction, thyroid health, and the prevention of cell damage and infections. Just be aware that the tolerable upper intake level of selenium is about 400 mcg and Brazil nuts contain 68–91 mcg per nut.

Selenium is a mineral that acts as a protective antioxidant, it supports immunity and helps wounds heal. You only need one to three Brazil nuts a day to get all the selenium you require, because we only need this mineral in very small amounts. Also containing vitamin E and the polyphenols ellagic and gallic acid, Brazil nuts enhance our defence mechanisms and help regulate blood lipids.

A 30g serving of Brazil nuts provides:

  • 205 kcals/845 KJ
  • 4.3g protein
  • 20.5g fat
  • 5.2g saturated fat
  • 6.7g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 7.6g poly-unsaturated fat
  • 0.9g carbohydrates
  • 1.7g fibre
  • 51mg calcium
  • 123mg magnesium
  • 76.2mcg selenium

Cashews

With a similar reputation for their nutritional value and versatile culinary uses, cashews emerge as another top contender among the healthiest nuts to incorporate into a balanced diet. Cashews offer a range of benefits, including being a good source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They contain nutrients like magnesium, copper, and antioxidants that support heart health and aid in energy production. Cashews also contribute to bone health and help boost immunity.

Cashews have a crunchy texture and creamy mouthfeel that pair well with both savory and sweet dishes. You can eat them raw, roasted, or as nut butter. 

A 1-ounce (28 grams) serving of cashews contains:

  • Calories: 157
  • Fat: 12.4 grams
  • Protein: 5.16 grams
  • Fiber: 0.94 grams
  • Copper: 69% of the DV

Chestnuts

A popular and versatile ingredient, chestnuts are low in fat and calories, and a good source of protective antioxidants.

By far the nut with the lowest fat and calories, chestnuts are rich in starchy carbohydrates and fibre, and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. They’re lower in protein than other nuts, but when ground can be used as a gluten-free flour for cakes and bakes.

A 30g serving of raw chestnuts provides:

  • 59 kcals/246KJ
  • 0.5g protein
  • 3.1g fat
  • 0.1g saturated fat
  • 0.1g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 0.1g poly-unsaturated fat
  • 13.9g carbohydrates
  • 1.5g fibre
  • 145mg potassium

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts not only make for a tasty snack but also pack a punch when it comes to health benefits. They're a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

The daily recommendation for these delightful nuts hovers around 1-2 ounces, offering an array of advantages.

They're considered one of the healthiest nuts due to their ability to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and support weight management. It’s no wonder hazelnuts are the perfect partner to chocolate: Mildly sweet and very rich, they practically scream “dessert.” The decadent morsels are also full of antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress (an imbalance between molecules in your body that can lead to various diseases).

A 1-ounce (21 kernels) serving of hazelnuts contains:

  • Calories: 178
  • Fat: 17.2 grams
  • Protein: 4.25 grams
  • Fiber: 2.75 grams
  • Manganese: 87% of the DV

Pinenuts

These little nuts are a key ingredients in pesto, and make a nutritious addition to salads, pasta or dips. Botanically, pine nuts are actually a seed rather than a nut and are derived from different species of pine cone.

help support healthy skin and protect against ageing.

A 30g serving of pine nuts provides:

  • 206 kcals/852KJ
  • 4.2g protein
  • 20.6g fat
  • 1.4g saturated fat
  • 6g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 12.3g poly-unsaturated fat
  • 1.2g carbohydrates
  • 0.8g fiber.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a great source of plant-based protein because they are one of the few plants that contain all nine essential amino acids in adequate quantities. This means that they are a complete protein, which some plant-based eaters may find difficult to fulfill in their diets. 

Compared to most other nuts, pistachios have a lower fat and calorie content and contain the highest amount of potassium. They’re especially rich in phytosterols, which supports cardiovascular health. They’re also the only nut to provide reasonable levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants which play an important role in protecting the eyes.

A 30g serving of pistachio provides:

  • 169 kcals/706KJ
  • 6.1g protein
  • 13.6g fat
  • 1.7g saturated fat
  • 7.1g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 4.1g poly-unsaturated fat

Walnuts

These nuts are an excellent source of copper, a mineral that your body needs to produce enzymes involved in energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis. Copper also aidsTrusted Source immune function and blood vessel development.

Walnuts have been shown to benefit heart health and may reduce several heart disease risk factors, including elevated levels of: blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides.

A 30g serving of walnuts provide:

  • 206 kcals/851KJ
  • 4.4g protein
  • 20.6g fat
  • 2.2g saturated fat
  • 3.2g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 14.0g poly-unsaturated fat

Pecans

Sweet and creamy, pecans are popular in desserts and sweet bakes. Heart-friendly pecans are packed with plant sterols, which are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich, which helps prevent the plaque formation which causes hardening of the arteries. They’re also rich in oleic acid, the mono-unsaturated fat which is famed for the heart-healthy benefits of olives and avocado.

They’re a good source of the mineral zinc, which plays an important role Trusted Source in: immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis

A 30g serving of pecans provides:

  • 207 kcals/853KJ
  • 2.8g protein
  • 21.0g fat
  • 1.7g saturated fat
  • 12.8g mono-unsaturated fat

Macadamia Nuts

Although well known for their high fat content, macadamia nuts shouldn’t be feared. They are the richest nut source of heart-friendly mono-unsaturated fats and, as such, they help manage cholesterol and modulate the risk factors of heart disease. They’re a good source of fibre and make a useful contribution towards mineral intake, including magnesium, calcium and potassium.

They are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, making them a great addition to your daily diet.

A 30g serving of macadamia provides:

  • 215 kcals/901KJ
  • 2.4g protein
  • 22.7g fat
  • 3.6g saturated fat
  • 17.7g mono-unsaturated fat
  • 0.5g poly-unsaturated fat
  • 1.6g carbohydrates

How to add nuts to your diet

People can increase their nut intake in different ways to get more plant proteins. Below are some examples of ways to incorporate nuts into the diet:

Add them to trail mix

Roasted, salted nuts can add flavor and satiety to a savory trail mix, which can replace less healthful snacks, such as chips. However, it is still best to moderate portion sizes due to the added salt and high calorie content.

Raw nuts are also a healthful and nutritious addition to a sweet trail mix that includes dried fruits. People with the urge to eat a candy bar or another sweet snack might find that sweet trail mix can curb their cravings.

People on low-carb or low-sugar diets should keep in mind that dried fruits can have a high sugar content.

Eat them as a snack

Nuts are generally ready to eat, making them the ideal snack at nearly any time of the day. However, it is important to bear in mind that, although nuts contain healthful fats, they tend to be high in calories.

Drink nut milk

Nut milk does not have the same properties as cow’s milk, but it may keep some of the flavor and benefits of the whole nuts.

Many grocery stores sell nut beverages, or people can make simple versions of nut milk at home to avoid added ingredients. Examples include almond milk, cashew milk, and hazelnut milk.

Use nut butters

Along with peanut butter, many other types of nut butter are available at markets and grocery stores. People can add them to sandwiches or smoothies.

Sprinkle them on a salad

Adding a serving of nuts to a salad can boost its protein and nutrient content and make it more filling.

Can you eat too many nuts?

Eating nuts is beneficial for health as they may protect against risk factors for heart disease and other health conditions. However, it is possible to eat too many nuts.

Nuts are very high in calories, so eating a large number of nuts throughout the day can cause people to exceed their target calorie intake without realizing it. Doing so regularly may lead to weight gain.

Nuts are also high in healthful fats, which are good for the body in moderation but can cause diarrhea and other issues in excess.

Roasted, salted nuts can add at least as much sodium to the diet as other salty snacks. Anyone eating salted nuts should pay attention to the label to see how much sodium they are eating. Raw or dry-roasted nuts are a more healthful alternative.