8 Healthy Nuts For Every Need+Eat More Of Them

Nuts are a great way to boost the nutritional value of salads and other dishes, as well as the texture, flavour, and versatility of snacks like trail mix. I was wondering, which nuts are the healthiest, and how do their nutritional benefits stack up against one another?

Various functional nutritionists share their thoughts on which nuts are best for your health.

Health benefits of nuts.

There are more than 50 different kinds of nuts, and over 20 of them are edible, each with its own set of health benefits.

If you start to feel tired about 3 o’clock, you can pick up some nuts because they are an excellent midday snack full of protein and healthy fats. Nuts are known to increase your energy levels1, but they are also a nutrient-dense food that contains a wide variety of essential macro- and micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., CDN, tells mbg that nuts are a great source of plant-based, heart-healthy lipids like saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

According to Feller, eating certain nuts is a great way to get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids (an essential fatty acid the human body cannot produce and must obtain from food sources), antioxidants (a win for your immune system2), and prebiotic fibre, which does more than just keep you full by providing “nourishment for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.”

Although nuts are beneficial to your health in many ways, eating too many of them can have the opposite effect. Depending on the type of nut you’re eating, a handful is about the right amount to get the health benefits listed above, according to registered dietitian nutritionist Maggie Michalczyk, RDN.

Healthiest nuts.

To clarify, all nuts are intrinsically healthful except for the sugar-coated, candied ones.

However, Feller tells mbg that the nut that is ideal for you boils down to your health demands, likes, and dislikes because each nut delivers a different mix of nutritional qualities.

“Nuts are a fantastic way to get your daily dose of healthy fats, plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and more. While they both provide some of these nutrients, I wouldn’t suggest that one is inherently healthier than the other, as Feller points out. Instead, I advocate that people experiment with several kinds of nuts until they discover one they like and make it a regular part of their diet.”

Some nuts may be more beneficial to your health than others due to differences in their nutritional content. What follows is a discussion by nutritionists and doctors about the health benefits of various nuts.

Almonds: Best for skin health

Almonds: Best for skin health

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories 162
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Protein: 6g
  • 6g carbs
  • 3g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: Calcium (7%), Magnesium (19%)

According to Michalczyk, eating a handful of almonds3 is a good idea if you’re trying to improve your skin despite dealing with issues like uneven pigmentation or other skin problems.

According to Michalczyk, “[Almonds] are the nut with the greatest vitamin E, an antioxidant which supports skin health by shielding skin cells from the destructive effects of free radicals caused by pollution, UV rays, cigarette smoke, and other causes,” and studies back this up.

A 2019 study4 published in the journal Phytother Research reported that 50 postmenopausal women who ate 20% of their daily calories from almonds for 16 weeks saw a reduction in the severity of their wrinkles.

Peanuts: Best for stress relief

Peanuts: Best for stress relief

  • 1oz serving
  • Cal161.
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Protein: 7g
  • 5g carbs
  • 2g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: Iron (7%), Magnesium (12%), Vitamin B6 (5%)

Peanuts (technically not nuts but rather the edible seeds of a legume) are packed with nutrients and have been shown to have a number of health benefits, in addition to being delicious.

It has been shown that the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in a daily intake of 25 grammes (just under an ounce) of peanuts can help lower cholesterol levels, as shown in a randomised clinical trial and meta-analysis6 conducted in 2022.

As if their heart-healthy properties weren’t enough, peanuts’ bioactive components have also been shown to aid in stress reduction and memory retention.

Cashews: Best for high blood pressure

Cashews: Best for high blood pressure

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories:157
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Protein: 5g
  • 9g carbs
  • Fiber: <1 g
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: Iron (10%), Magnesium (20%), Vitamin B6 (5%)

Raw cashews7 or cashew butter both showcase the nut’s rich flavour and texture. You can count on getting plenty of nutrition from these tasty nibbles.

Studies8 show that cashews can help reduce cholesterol levels, which in turn helps keep blood pressure stable. This is in addition to the fact that cashews are loaded with magnesium, which supports muscle relaxation, nerve function, and energy production, and iron, which is great for the immune system.

Pistachios: Best complete plant-based protein source

Pistachios: Best complete plant-based protein source

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories:159
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Protein: 6g
  • 8g carbs
  • 3g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Iron.

Pistachios’ creamy consistency and mild sweetness make them a fan favourite, but they also earn top marks from food scientists.

This is because pistachios contain “the whole amino acid profile” and 6 grammes of plant-based protein9 per serving, as explained by Feller. This makes them a “complete” plant-based protein source.

Whether you’re on the run and feeling tired or need a fast burst of energy, pistachios are the perfect satisfying snack.

Walnuts: Best for brain health

Walnuts: Best for brain health

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories:190
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Protein: 4g
  • 4g carbs
  • 2g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: B6 (10%), magnesium (11%).

To think that walnuts, which are so good for your brain, are actually shaped like a brain is, at best, ironic. According to a review of human and animal evidence published in the journal Nutrients in 2011, walnuts’ high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories may help shield the brain from age-related cognitive loss.

Enette Larson-Meyer, Ph.D., R.D., professor and head of the master in nutrition and dietetics programme at Virginia Tech, recently told mbg that the omega-3 polyunsaturated lipid alpha-linolenic acid is linked to helping prevent cognitive decline12. Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid.

Pecans: Best for heart health

Pecans: Best for heart health

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories:196
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Protein: 3g
  • 4g carbs
  • 3g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: B6 (5%), magnesium (8%).

A high-antioxidant diet “can help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, as well as help prevent and repair cellular damage that can lead to signs of ageing,” says Krista Linares, R.D., owner of Nutrition con Sabor, who previously told mbg that pecans13 are especially high in antioxidants.

Another study from 2018 indicated that pecan consumption reduced the risk of cardiometabolic disease in overweight and obese middle-aged and elderly people. This study was published in the journal Nutrients.

Macadamia nuts: Best for lowering cholesterol

Macadamia nuts: Best for lowering cholesterol

  • 1 oz.
  • Calories: 200
  • Fat: 22 g
  • 2g protein
  • Carbs: 4 g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Daily percentages of key micronutrients: Copper (20%), Manganese (35%), Thiamin (15%), Magnesium (8%), Selenium (6%), Vitamin B6 (6%).

Don’t let the fact that macadamia nuts15 are somewhat high in fat prevent you from buying a bag to nibble on. In fact, almost 80% of the fat in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated fat, the kind of fat that helps reduce cholesterol.

According to Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, CHC, “a preferable snack for people aiming to achieve ketosis and following a keto diet,” macadamia nuts are the nut with the fewest carbohydrates.

Brazil nuts: Best for thyroid health

Brazil nuts: Best for thyroid health

  • 1oz serving
  • Calories:
  • Fat: 19 g
  • Protein: 4g
  • 4g carbs
  • 2g fibre
  • Key micronutrients with daily percentages: (26%), 4%

We are confident that even if you have never tried a Brazil nut16 before, you would be able to identify it in a lineup. These round pods are quite sizable, with diameters of 3 inches to 7 inches on average. Therefore, while one ounce of pistachios equals roughly 30 nuts, one ounce of Brazil nuts equals maybe six medium-sized nuts.

Brazil nuts are famous for more than just their size; their selenium level is also noteworthy. Trace amounts of selenium can help maintain healthy hormone levels, particularly in the thyroid, which is important since it regulates so many other hormones. Katie Lemons, the functional medicine expert behind the Twist of Lemons Instagram account, previously told mbg that she recommends eating one to two Brazil nuts daily as a whole food selenium supplement because each nut contains 90 micrograms, which is more than the 55 micrograms recommended daily by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services18.

How to add nuts to your diet.

Though you could simply grab a handful and eat them as a raw snack, why not try them in some of the many exciting and tasty dishes to which they can be added? Listed below are some suggestions to help you get rolling.

  • To enjoy nuts in their purest form, try making your own nut butter, which is one of the author’s favourite snack foods (I love almond and peanut butter). Numerous pre-packaged jars can be found in most supermarkets, but they typically include sugar and other ingredients that aren’t necessary (looking at you, refined oils). As an alternative, you can make your own nut butter by purchasing your preferred nuts in bulk, placing them in a blender, and pulsing until smooth. It’s easy to personalise any recipe by adding your favourite ingredients, like honey, cinnamon, or vanilla essence.
  • Use them as a breading: Michalczyk tells mbg that she uses finely chopped nuts as a breading for chicken and fish to increase the meal’s macro- and micronutrient content.
    If you like pesto, Keller has a great recipe for making it out of pistachios. Blending together two cups of kale, half a cup of basil leaves, two tablespoons of pistachios, two cloves of garlic, and half a cup of olive oil, she makes a quick and easy pesto using pistachios. Indulge in the meat- and dairy-free sauce on a variety of foods, including chicken, fish, panini, eggs, and more.
  • One of Davar’s favourite ways to get more nuts into her diet without spending a lot of time in the kitchen is by adding them to salads. She tells mbg, “I adore using nuts as a delightful topper for my salads; roasted, they offer a nice textural burst of a crunch.
  • DIY nut milk is a great option whether you’re trying to avoid or reduce your intake of dairy products, or you’re just looking for something new to try. As an added bonus, they need no effort to prepare at home. Various nut milks may be made with only a few simple ingredients and straightforward recipes can be found all over the internet, from macadamia nut milk to almond milk to cashew milk to walnut milk and even hazelnut milk (typically filtered water and the nut of your choice).
  • Subtly incorporate them into your go-to snacks: Sweet tooth sufferers, take note: mbg was told by integrative and functional registered dietitian Alexandra D’Elia, R.D., CDN, RDN, that nuts are a great addition to a wide variety of baked items, from cookies to pie crusts, and even no-bake dishes, like these no-bake nut butter cookie bites.

The takeaway.

In reality, there isn’t a single nut that isn’t healthful in some way or another. Incorporating a variety of nuts into your daily diet can improve your health from head to toe, so consider the aforementioned nutritional qualities and particular benefits as a starting point for planning.