Nuts have been a “nut”ritional trend for a while now. It’s widely known that they have many health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, which are both important for heart and blood vessel health as well as muscle and tissue repair. Satiation, or feeling satisfied or “full”, is one of the other important benefits of nuts. So when looking at nuts, which ones are healthiest or the best choices? It really matters when looking at the details of nuts and what we are trying to accomplish.
As a protein source, almonds, pistachios and cashews rank in that order, with almonds coming in at 6 grams per oz, which is almost as high as an animal source protein, having 7 – 8 grams of protein per oz.
For fiber, almonds top the list again at 3.5 grams per oz, followed by pistachios, then pecans and hazelnuts tying for third.
In looking at calories, almonds are lowest at 163 calories per oz, and macadamia nuts the highest at 204 calories per oz.
Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats, have macadamia nuts as highest at 16.7 grams per oz., followed by hazelnuts and pecans. Walnuts are highest in polyunsaturated fats. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that may protect against Alzheimer’s, is highest in almonds, followed by hazelnuts. To decrease saturated fats, we could limit Brazil nuts followed by macadamias, and almonds being the lowest.
Many people are attempting to increase their magnesium intake, so Brazil nuts are highest in this nutrient. For calcium, almonds are highest at 75 mg per oz.
So we see that as in most issues, it depends on what our health goals are and the fact that there are “no perfect foods,” but nuts in general are such a good choice to add fiber, mostly healthy fats and many other nutrients. They are very easy to add to salads, have as a snack or as a “butter.” For many of us, the challenge seems to be limiting our portion to that one oz. For a more complete breakdown, look on the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.