While nuts are high in (healthy) fat and calories, research shows that people who eat nuts tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of many diseases compared to people who don't eat nuts. In fact, snacking on raw nuts at least twice a week is associated with a 17 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, according to preliminary August 2019 research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. Find out which type of nuts contain a potent antioxidant that's linked to preventing cancer and which nuts can lower your bad cholesterol.
Delicious and versatile, pecans can also help keep you healthy. At just under 200 calories per 1-ounce serving, pecans provide 3 grams of dietary fiber and B vitamins, copper, manganese and zinc. In fact, pecans are ranked among the top 3 nuts for antioxidant capacity, according to a June 2004 USDA study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Pecans are also a rich source of oleic acid, which is linked to having a beneficial effect on cancer, wound healing and even autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, a February 2013 article in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry states.
Pecans are perfect in dinner entrées as well as desserts. Try this Baked Salmon With Pecan-Herb Crust.
Lower in calories and fat than most nuts, pistachios are also a nutritional powerhouse. This little nut is a solid source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese and contains other essential vitamins and minerals. Researchers at Harvard University found that eating a daily handful of nuts, like pistachios, is linked to boosting health and longevity. Incorporate more into your diet with this delicious Red Quinoa With Pistachios recipe.
Tip: In-shell pistachios are a wonderful snack because it takes you longer to eat them. Also, being able to see the discarded shells helps to provide you visual feedback of how many you have eaten.
Also known as filberts or cobnuts, hazelnuts are a flavorful addition to entrées, and they are especially popular in desserts. At around 180 calories per 1-ounce serving, hazelnuts contain 3 grams of fiber and contain copper, magnesium, thiamin and vitamin E. Like other nuts, hazelnuts can have a protective effect on heart health. Indeed, a diet enriched with hazelnuts is associated with lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol, according to a December 2016 study in Nutrients. Hazelnuts also contain an especially high amount of proanthocyanidins, which are compounds found in plants that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and other health benefits. For a tasty and healthy brunch treat, try this Crunchy Hazelnut Granola Parfait.
At 160 calories per serving, almonds contain about 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber —which is more than most other tree nuts. They're also an excelled source of vitamin E, copper and manganese. Ounce for ounce, almonds are the nut highest in calcium, with 75 milligrams per ounce. Almonds are believed to play a role in weight management, heart health and even diabetes prevention. June 2010 research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that consuming almonds helped improve insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes. The study also indicated that adding almonds to meals and snacks can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Almonds are great on their own or in meals like this Chicken Salad With Almonds and Cherries.
One serving of cashews (about 160 calories) provides 4 grams of protein and is high in unsaturated fat. Cashews are also an excellent source of essential nutrients like copper and magnesium, plus they provide some iron as well. Here's a piece of trivia that you probably didn't know: The cashew "nut" is actually a seed that is harvested from the cashew fruit. Plus, eating more nuts is linked with lower mortality, per November 2013 research from the New England Journal of Medicine. For a tasty and healthy dinner, try this Chicken, Cashew and Vegetable Stir-Fry.
Though probably best known for their role in making delicious desserts, macadamia nuts are also good for your health. At around 200 calories per serving, macadamia nuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fat and are an excellent source of thiamin and manganese. Tree nuts, including macadamias, improve overall diet quality by adding nutrients that are often lacking in typical American diets. Like many other nuts, macadamias are good for your heart and offer metabolic benefits, a July 2010 study in Nutrients found. For a healthy treat, enjoy macadamia nuts in these Strawberry Oat Bars.
7. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are the largest nut, and just one nut contains more than 170 percent of the selenium you need in a day. Selenium is a potent antioxidant that might play a role in preventing cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline and thyroid disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. Brazil nuts are also a good source of copper, phosphorus and manganese. This nut is also among the highest in total fat (19 grams per serving) and saturated fat (4 grams per serving), so it's less heart-smart than other nuts. Because you only get a few Brazil nuts per serving, they're best when mixed with dried fruit and other nuts in a trail mix.
A staple on many superfood lists, walnuts have earned their place for good reason. They contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid, know for its anti-inflammatory properties and role in heart health. In fact, the brain-shaped nuts are linked with lowering the risk of heart issues in people who suffered a heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. What's more, eating more walnuts is associated with a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women, an April 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition found. And, eating walnuts was observed to slow cognitive decline in older adults who are at risk, per a January 2020 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Walnuts also provide 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, as well as minerals like magnesium and phosphorous.
For a healthier alternative to fried chicken, try this amazing Walnut-Coated "Smart" Fried Chicken.
Despite their name, peanuts aren't really nuts. They belong to the legume family and grow underground. Peanuts contain about 7 grams of protein per serving and are a good source of many B vitamins. This makes them an excellent plant-based protein for your meals and snacks. The magnesium content in peanuts has been linked to heart health and lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. They also provide phytosterols, compounds that naturally lower cholesterol, as well as resveratrol, the same heart-healthy compound found in red wine. For a healthy and portable snack, try making some Homemade All-Natural Energy Bars.
Read more: 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Red Wine
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Pecans"
- Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry: "An Overview of the Modulatory Effects of Oleic Acid in Health and Disease"
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the United States"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Eating Nuts Linked to Healthier, Longer Life"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Pistachios"
- Nutrients: "Effects of Hazelnut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Body Weight: A Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Almond Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Adults With Prediabetes"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Cashews"
- New England Journal of Medicine: "Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality"
- Nutrients: "Health Benefits of Nut Consumption"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Brazil Nuts"
- National Institutes of Health: "Selenium"
- Journal of Nutrition: "Walnut Consumption is Associated With Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women"
- Mayo Clinic: "Cholesterol: Top Foods to Improve Your Numbers"
- National Institutes of Health: "Magnesium"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Peanuts"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Macadamia Nuts"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effect of a 2-year diet intervention with walnuts on cognitive decline. The Walnuts And Healthy Aging (WAHA) study: a randomized controlled trial"