Healthy nuts

The top 9 nuts to eat for better health

Nuts are packed with beneficial nutrients that may reduce your risk of many diseases. Here are the 9 healthiest nuts.

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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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Crunchy, filling, and nutritious, nuts are a fantastic food to have on hand.

They’re a good source of fiber, healthy fats, and plant protein. Plus, they’re great on their own, paired with fruit, or added to dishes like salads, desserts, and grains.

What’s more, research suggests that eating more nuts may support healthy body weight and help reduce your risk of certain health conditions, including heart disease.

Nuts are also an excellent food choice for kids. Studies show that adding nuts to your child’s diet may improve their intake of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

Nuts have various textures, flavors, and nutrient profiles.

Here are 9 nutritious nuts to add to your diet.

1. Almonds

Almonds are incredibly popular due to their flavor, impressive nutrient profile, and relatively cheap cost. You can eat them raw or roasted, and they’re often made into almond butter, almond flour, and almond milk.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of roasted almonds contains:

Suggested read: 9 evidence-based health benefits of almonds

These nuts are especially rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble nutrient that functions as an antioxidant to protect your cells against oxidative damage. This vitamin also supports immune function and cellular communication.

Not only are almonds a good source of healthy fat, protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals, but they may also reduce heart disease risk factors like elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and excess belly fat.

A 12-week study in 219 young adults found that those who ate 2 ounces (56 grams) of almonds daily had significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammatory markers, and hemoglobin A1c — a marker of blood sugar control — compared with a control group.

Finally, almonds may promote gut health by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species.

Summary: Almonds are high in several essential nutrients. Eating them regularly may boost heart and gut health.

2. Pistachios

Pistachios — whose name is derived from the Greek word pistákion, which means “the green nut” — have been eaten since 6,000 B.C.

These vibrant nuts are packed with nutrients but lower in calories and fat than many other nuts.

Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of pistachios contains:

Suggested read: 9 evidence-based health benefits of pistachios

Pistachios are a good source of numerous nutrients, including vitamin B6, which your body needs for nutrient metabolism and immune function.

Additionally, these nuts are rich in plant compounds like the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins, all of which have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In a 4-month study including 100 people with overweight, one group ate 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of pistachios per day and underwent a group-based behavioral weight loss program, while the other group only participated in the weight loss program.

The groups lost similar amounts of weight, but the pistachio group experienced significant reductions in blood pressure and significant increases in blood antioxidant levels. Plus, they ate more fiber and fewer sweets than the control group.

Summary: Pistachios are a good source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Plus, they may improve blood pressure and other health markers.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts are linked to multiple health benefits and have an impressive nutrient profile. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) contains:

Suggested read: 13 proven health benefits of walnuts

These nuts are an excellent source of copper, a mineral that your body needs to produce enzymes involved in energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis. Copper also aids immune function, blood vessel development, and more.

Walnuts have been shown to benefit heart health and may reduce several heart disease risk factors, including elevated blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Additionally, human and animal research suggests that eating 1–2 ounces (28–57 grams) of walnuts per day may improve brain function and reduce risk factors for dementia, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Although these findings are promising, more studies are needed.

Summary: Walnuts, which are an especially good source of copper and manganese, may boost heart and brain health.

4. Cashews

Cashews have a crunchy texture and creamy mouthfeel that pair well with both savory and sweet dishes. You can eat them raw, roasted, or as nut butter.

Suggested read: Are cashews good for you? Nutrition, benefits, and downsides

Only 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw cashews offers:

These nuts are a good source of several nutrients that are essential to bone health, including protein, vitamin K, magnesium, and manganese.

Several studies have examined whether diets high in cashews improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms like elevated blood pressure, blood fat levels, blood sugar, and belly fat that increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A review of five studies found that eating cashews led to significant reductions in blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

However, some studies have observed mixed results, so more research is needed.

Summary: Some studies suggest that cashews may improve blood fat levels and reduce blood pressure. They also provide vitamin K and minerals like magnesium and manganese.

5. Pecans

Pecans are mild nuts that are popular for cakes, pies, salads, and grain dishes.

One ounce (28 grams) of roasted pecans provides:

Like other nuts, pecans are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

They’re a good source of the mineral zinc, which plays an important role in immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and growth and development.

Additionally, some research suggests that pecans benefit heart health.

A small, 8-week study in 56 people at risk of heart disease demonstrated that those who ate pecans daily had significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, compared with a control group.

Summary: Pecans contain a variety of beneficial nutrients, including zinc and manganese. Among other benefits, they may promote heart health.

6. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts have a buttery texture and contain an array of nutrients. Just 1 ounce (28.35 grams) offers:

Suggested read: 10 health and nutrition benefits of macadamia nuts

These nuts are high in healthy fats and lower in carbs than many nuts, making them a popular choice for those on low-carb diets.

Adding macadamia nuts to your diet may benefit your health in several ways. For example, studies have shown that eating tree nuts, including macadamia nuts, may help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.

Summary: Macadamia nuts are high in healthy fats and other important nutrients like vitamin B1 and manganese.

7. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a rich source of many nutrients, especially the mineral selenium.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of contains:

Suggested read: 7 proven health benefits of Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are high in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and magnesium, a mineral that’s essential for blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, nerve function, and energy production.

Moreover, these nuts are one of the richest dietary sources of selenium, a nutrient your body needs for critical functions like thyroid hormone production and DNA synthesis.

However, you should keep your intake to just a few nuts per day to avoid exceeding the upper limit of 400 mcg, which may lead to selenium poisoning.

Still, this condition is likelier to occur when you’re getting too much selenium from supplements, not food.

While the selenium concentration in Brazil nuts depends on many factors, this mineral functions as a powerful antioxidant and may protect against oxidative damage.

Summary: Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, a nutrient that serves as an antioxidant and is necessary for thyroid health.

8. Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are highly nutritious, packing healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Only 1 ounce (28 grams) contains:

In addition to being a good source of vitamins and minerals, hazelnuts are loaded with plant compounds like gallic acid, epicatechin, caffeic acid, and quercetin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Therefore, these nuts may help improve your diet quality and increase your antioxidant intake.

Plus, one review suggests that regularly eating hazelnuts may help reduce heart disease risk factors like elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol.

Summary: Hazelnuts, which are a good source of nutrients like vitamin E and manganese, may reduce certain heart disease risk factors.

9. Peanuts

While peanuts technically belong to the legume family, they have a nutrient profile similar to that of tree nuts, comparable health benefits, and related culinary uses.

Suggested read: Is peanut butter good or bad for your health?

One ounce (28.35 grams) of raw peanuts contains roughly:

Peanuts are a rich source of plant protein, which can help you feel full, and are high in folate, a B vitamin that’s especially important during pregnancy due to its role in fetal and placental development.

Plus, studies show that diets rich in nuts, including peanuts, may benefit heart health.

One study in over 200,000 people associated eating peanuts and tree nuts twice per week or more with up to a 19% lower risk of heart disease.

Summary: Peanuts, which are technically legumes, provide several B vitamins and may help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Summary

Nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts are a great source of nutrients, such as protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

When eaten as part of a nutrient-dense diet, nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease and support immune health, among other benefits.

Plus, nuts are versatile and delicious. You can enjoy them on their own or pair them with other nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.

Quick tip

Many kinds of nut butter contain added oils and sugars to improve the texture and taste of the final product, but it’s best to choose products that don’t contain these ingredients. As such, be sure to read food labels carefully.

Last updated on January 12, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on January 6, 2022.
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