All Nuts Are Good for You, But These 8 Are the Healthiest
If you ask us, we'd say all nuts deserve love. They're crunchy, easy to take on the go, and super tasty. Pairing well with chocolate never hurts, either. But when it comes to nutrition, not all nuts are created equal. We spoke with Malena Perdomo, MS, RDN, CDE about the health benefits of nuts and which ones to reach for first.
The good news? All nuts are healthy. "They're packed with good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)," Malena says. "And they provide plenty of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium and phosphorous." They also contain fiber and protein.
"As a dietitian, I recommend snacking on a variety of nuts to get the full benefits of all their nutrients," she says. You don't have to ask us twice. Here are the healthiest types of nuts and the science behind why.
A superb snack to munch on, almonds have more dietary fiber than other nuts, at 4 grams per one-ounce serving (about 23 almonds). Almonds also have the most vitamin E and protein of all the tree nuts, providing 6 grams of protein per serving. The combination of fiber, good fats, and protein can keep you fuller, longer. Finally, almonds have been shown to reduce inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes.
Pistachios are also the highest in potassium (291 milligrams) per ounce compared to other nuts and contain the highest amount of vitamin B6. Pistachios are also one of the highest-fiber nuts. Pistachios may also help improve other heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure, weight, and oxidative status. Even better: A 1-ounce serving is 49 kernels.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They've also been shown to improve cardiovascular health by lowering your body's cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, walnuts may fight inflammation. A one-ounce serving of walnuts is 12-14 halves.
A one-ounce serving of cashews (approximately 18 nuts) provides 5 grams of protein. Cashews have the highest amount of iron and zinc per ounce of all nuts—which are important for maintaining our body's immune system. (And if you're a vegetarian looking for foods rich in iron, you'll want to start snacking on cashews, stat.) They also serve as an excellent source of copper and magnesium.
Hazelnuts have 4 grams of protein per ounce (about 20 nuts) and are an excellent source of vitamin E. In comparison to other tree nuts, they're the highest in folate—a very important nutrient for pregnancy—and one of the highest in monounsaturated fats.
They're the highest in calories and fat, but who's counting, right? So delicious. One ounce of macadamia nuts (about 10 to 12 nuts) provides 200 calories. It has the highest amount of monounsaturated fat of all nuts. Macadamia nuts may also reduce risk factors for heart disease, including oxidative stress and inflammation.
One ounce of pecans (about 20 halves) contains 196 calories and a good amount of dietary fiber (2.7 grams). They're also high in monounsaturated fat. A few studies have shown that pecans can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol in people with normal cholesterol levels.
A good source of vitamin E and phosphorous, pine nuts are high in vitamin K. An ounce of pine nuts is about 167 nuts.