Do you avoid nuts because of their high fat and calorie content?
Are you worried you can’t stop at just a few?
Well, stop worrying. Nuts are worth it.
Nuts are packed with good fats, are a rich source of fiber, and contain tons of other beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Plus they’re a great source of plant-based protein.
The bottom line: Nuts are almost a superfood.
Okay, so what are the science-backed benefits of eating nuts? And which nuts are the healthiest? We’ve ranked the top seven healthiest nuts to save you time and money.
Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Nuts
Nuts are almost a superfood. And eating a variety of nuts can help:
- Improve decision making (see #6)
- Provide essential vitamins and minerals (like selenium, see #3)
- Reduce oxidative stress (e.g., reduce the signs of aging, see #3)
- Lower bad and raise good cholesterol (see #1 and #2)
- Reduce coronary heart disease
- Lower blood pressure and improve circulation (see #6)
- Reduce inflammation (see #4)
- Improve gut health (see #7)
- Support a ketogenic lifestyle
The top-rated nut goes to...
1. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are a super source of monounsaturated fat and are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients [*].
Twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of macadamia nuts contains 2g of protein, 4g of carbohydrates, 21g of fat, 2.5g of fiber, and 200 calories. Yes, they’re keto-friendly. Research has shown that eating macadamia nuts can help decrease bad cholesterol (and total cholesterol) in people with concerning cholesterol levels [*].
Macadamia nuts also seem to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are risk factors for heart disease [*]. All that to say, eating macadamia nuts might just be like drinking from the fountain of youth. Okay, they’re not magic. But science shows they provide some serious health benefits. So forget about your calorie count when it comes to these nuts. They’re totally worth their weight in gold when it comes to your diet.
Cashews are another great nut. They’re not quite as keto-friendly as macadamia nuts, but they’re still worth snacking on. That’s because twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of cashews boasts 5g of protein, 1g of fiber, 9g of carbohydrates, 12g of fat and tops out at 155 calories.
According to one study, individuals with metabolic syndrome showed a significant improvement in their blood pressure after consuming a diet containing 20% of their daily calories from cashew nuts [*]. However, a different study found that these nuts raised blood sugar levels (which isn’t super surprising since they have a higher carb count than macadamia nuts) [*]. This just means that if you’re worried about carbs (e.g., if you’re keto and/or diabetic) then you’ll have to limit yourself a bit here.
But don’t count these nuts out. According to a large study, a diet high in cashews raised levels of good cholesterol and (again) decreased blood pressure [*].
Pecans are nearly a superfood, too. Twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of pecans contains 3g of protein, 4g of carbohydrates, 2.5g of fiber, 20g of fat and come in at 193 calories.
Pecans help reduce bad cholesterol (read: Low-Density Lipids [LDL]) in individuals with normal cholesterol levels [*]. This is great news, because it means that even normal people can benefit from eating these nuts. Their next superpower... these nuts are chock full of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols that can prevent oxidative damage (think signs of aging).
In one study, individuals who consumed pecans as 20% of their regular calorie intake for four weeks had increased antioxidant levels in their blood [*].
4. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, providing 100% of the recommended daily dietary intake per one-ounce serving. Twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of these nuts contains 4g of protein, 18g of fat, 2g of fiber, 3g of carbohydrates, and 182 calories.
The Brazil nut’s strength is selenium. Selenium is a mineral and an antioxidant that plays a role in various bodily functions. Selenium deficiency can happen when you have certain disease conditions. One study found that people going through hemodialysis for kidney disease were deficient in selenium. When the test subjects consumed one Brazil nut daily for three months, their selenium blood concentration increased and their antioxidant status improved markedly [*]. Not bad for one nut a day.
Brazil nuts have been found to decrease cholesterol levels. Furthermore, they may improve blood vessel function and decrease oxidative stress, especially in obese teenagers [*]. They may also decrease inflammation in healthy people, but especially for those going through hemodialysis [*][*].
Peanuts belong to the legume family and boast an impressive nutrition profile (although they aren’t technically a nut because they don’t grow on trees. Instead, they grow in pods underground). Twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of dry roasted peanuts contains 3g of fiber, 17g of fat, 5g of carbohydrates, 4g of protein, and 176 calories.
A 2015 meta-analysis found a favorable correlation with the consumption of tree nuts and peanuts, and the risk of death [*]. This research suggests that the more tree nuts and peanuts (but not peanut butter for some reason) you eat, the lower the risk of death. Crazy, right?! While this sounds unbelievable, the research uses modern meta-analytical techniques to tease out potentially confounding variables. The bottom line is this: While eating nuts won’t make you immortal, incorporating them into your diet is a seriously good idea.
Walnuts are a significant source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of these nuts contains 2g of fiber, 18g of fat, 4g of protein, 4g of carbohydrates, and 182 calories.
A study found that consuming walnuts increased inferential reasoning (a measure of cognition). The study concluded that these nuts may have beneficial effects on your brain [*].
Many studies have found that consuming walnuts substantially decreased bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, while increasing good HDL cholesterol levels [*][*]. Walnuts may also improve other heart health-related factors, including blood vessel functioning [*][*]. Furthermore, walnuts may help decrease inflammation that can lead to an array of chronic diseases [*].
Almonds are also a healthy nut choice. One 28g (one ounce) serving of almonds packs 3.5g of fiber, 14g of fat, 6g of protein, 6g of carbohydrates, and 161 calories.
According to many small studies, consuming a diet high in almonds can decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol [*][*][*]. Almonds consumed as part of a diet low in calories may reduce blood pressure and decrease body weight in individuals who are obese or overweight [*]. Research has shown that almonds help decrease inflammation in individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes [*]. Lastly, almonds encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria [*].
It’s pretty obvious that you want to eat more nuts, right!?
Get More Nuts in Your Diet
Here are some easy ways to eat more nuts:
- Sprinkle almonds on your yogurt.
- Replace croutons with nuts in your salads or soups.
- Add slivered almonds to your dessert, green beans, or chicken.
- Add nuts to your muffins, waffles, pancakes, or bread.
- Add nuts to popcorn for a delicious snack.
- Add a handful of nuts to steamed veggies for added flavor.
As we already alluded to, nuts are rich in good fats. Eating them can be part of a healthy, balanced low-carb or keto diet. They contain a plethora of essential nutrients needed for optimal health. Eating more nuts may help decrease risk factors for a number of chronic diseases. Not on keto? Or Paleo, Atkins, Whole30, or Carnivore? It doesn't matter because the benefits of eating nuts don't discriminate. Grab some FBOMB macadamia nut butter packs to eat anywhere, any time.