While all nuts are good for you, some are better than others because they contain higher amounts of protein or certain nutrients that have health benefits. Around 1 ounce, or 1/4 cup, is a typical portion of nuts. Portion size is key to consuming a healthy amount of nuts, no matter which type you choose.
Walnuts top the list as one of the healthiest nuts because they are the only nut source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fats may lower cholesterol levels and support a healthy heart; they also play a crucial role in brain function. A serving of walnuts, about 14 halves, provides you with 185 calories, 4 grams of protein and almost 2 grams of fiber.
The vitamins and minerals found in almonds make them one of the best nut choices. Almonds contain vitamin E and provide up to 35 percent of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin. This nut also supplies calcium and folate, some of the nutrients lacking in the typical American diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Almonds also have the highest protein per serving among nuts, with a total of 6 grams per ounce.
Pistachios have a large serving size compared to other nuts: around 49 nuts per ounce. This nut also boasts the highest amount of fiber at a total of 3 grams per serving, as well as almost 6 grams of protein per ounce. Pistachio nuts may help you control your hunger due to their high protein and fiber content. Eating them from the shell may also help you stick to the 1-ounce serving size.
Less Healthy Nuts
Macadamia nuts boast the highest amount of fat per serving, with 17 to 22 grams, giving them a higher calorie count than most nuts at 204 calories per ounce. Macadamia nuts are also very low in protein compared to other nuts, with less than 2.5 grams in a 1-ounce serving. Macadamia nuts do provide a good dose of healthy fat calories, but they lack the protein and nutrients like potassium and magnesium that many of the healthiest nuts provide, which makes them a poorer nut choice.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Protein Foods: Why Is It Important to Make Lean or Low-Fat Choices From the Protein Foods Group?
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: In a Nutshell
- American Heart Association: Polyunsaturated Fats.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- University of Michigan Health System: Healthy Nuts Go Nuts
- USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Pistachio Nuts, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Raw