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What Is the Correct Serving Size for Nuts?

by
author image Stephanie Chandler
Stephanie Chandler is a freelance writer whose master's degree in biomedical science and over 15 years experience in the scientific and pharmaceutical professions provide her with the knowledge to contribute to health topics. Chandler has been writing for corporations and small businesses since 1991. In addition to writing scientific papers and procedures, her articles are published on Overstock.com and other websites.
What Is the Correct Serving Size for Nuts?
A woman holds a handful of mixed nuts. Photo Credit olgaman/iStock/Getty Images

Most nuts belong to the family of tree nuts with the exception of peanuts, which botanists classify as legumes – defined as the fruit of a plant that grows as a pod that splits into two halves. Both tree nuts and peanuts serve as good sources of protein, contain essential vitamins and minerals, provide fiber and contain mostly unsaturated healthy fats. Because of inconsistent references to serving size, determining the correct serving size for nuts can be difficult.

Labels as Guides

The Food Pyramid, the Food and Drug Administration and diets supported by the American Heart Association such as the DASH diet all recommend eating nuts as part of a nutritious low-fat diet, but each mentions a different serving size. Some recommend eating a handful of nuts per day while others suggest consuming 1.5 oz. per day. When determining the correct serving size, follow the guidance of nutrition labels. Information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database and nut packaging nutrition labels lists 1 oz. as the serving size. Conveniently, 1 oz. of nuts equals a handful.

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Since nuts differ in their size and weight, the amount of nuts needed to make up 1 oz. differs for each nut. A 1-oz. serving of large nuts like the Brazil nut consists of fewer nuts than the same size serving of a small nut like the pistachio nut. The 1-oz. serving size for all types of nuts refers to the nut kernel without the outer shell.

Large Nuts

A 1-oz. serving of Brazil nuts – a tree nut that grows in the Amazon region -- consists of only six kernels. A serving contains 190 calories, 4 g of protein, 19 g of total fat with 4 g of saturated fat, 780 percent of the daily recommended intake of selenium and 25 percent of the daily intake of magnesium and copper. Another relatively large nut, the macadamia nut, takes 10 to 12 nuts to make a 1-oz. serving. They provide 200 calories, 2 g of protein, 22 g of total fat with 3.5 g of saturated fat and 45 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese.

Average Nuts

It takes between 18 and 28 average-sized nut kernels to make up a 1 oz. serving. A 1-oz. serving of almonds consists of 23 kernels and provides 160 calories, 6 g of protein, 14 g of total fat with 1 g of saturated fat, 35 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin E and 30 percent of manganese. Eighteen cashews make up a 1-oz. serving, which provides 160 calories, 4 g of protein, 13 g of total fat with 3 g of saturated fat along with 20 percent of the daily recommended intake of magnesium and 30 percent of copper. A 1-oz. serving of hazelnuts contains 21 nut kernels with 180 calories, 4 g of protein, 17 g of total fat with 1.5 g of saturated fat, 90 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese and 20 percent of vitamin E. A 1-oz. serving of peanuts contains approximately 28 nut kernels with 161 calories, 7 g of protein, 14 g of total fat with 2 g of saturated fat and serves as a good source of potassium, calcium and vitamin B-3.

Small Nuts

The small nuts, such as pistachio nuts and pine nuts, require a lot more kernels to make up 1 oz. A 1-oz. serving of pistachio nuts consists of 49 nut kernels. This serving contains 160 calories, 6 g of protein, 13 g of total fat with 1.5 g of saturated fat and 20 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese, copper and vitamin B-6. The smallest tree nut, the pine nut, requires 167 nut kernels to make up 1 oz., which contains 190 calories, 4 g of protein, 20 g of total fat with 1.5 g of saturated fat, 120 percent of the daily recommended intake of copper, 20 percent of copper, 18 percent of magnesium and 16 percent of phosphorus.

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