I love researching and writing about the health benefits of delicious and healthy nuts.
The Health Benefits of Eating Nuts
Nuts should be a part of your daily diet because they contain a wide variety of nutrients. Many weight watchers shy away from them, though, because of their high fat content. What they may not know is that nuts are key players in:
- Beautiful hair, nails, and skin
- Strong bones
- Heart health
- Cancer prevention
The Top 10 Best Nuts for Your Health
Read on to find out what the best nuts to eat for health, and what makes each of them special.
- Brazil Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
Asian parents often give their children almonds on exam days. This is with good reason: Compounds found in almonds help regulate the production of an important hormone in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a key player in proper brain development—it sharpens memory and boosts mood. Almonds are one of the best nuts for health as well as a key brain-boosting superfood. Almonds are high in vitamin E, which studies have hypothesized may play a role in preventing cognitive decline, heart disease, and cancer.
To get the most nutritional benefit out of raw almonds, soak them in water overnight. By morning, the almonds will have swelled up to double the size. Eat these soaked nuts in the early part of your day for an energetic day ahead.
2. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are easy to spot, as they are among the largest in size. They are actually seeds, not nuts. As their name suggests, Brazil nuts come from a tree originating in South America.
Brazil nuts are very rich in selenium, a compound that allows the body to digest protein. Selenium is an important nutrient that may be linked to positive outcomes in various conditions, including infertility, heart disease, cancer, and mood disorders.
Further, the minerals magnesium and zinc are also found in Brazil nuts. They serve the nervous and muscular systems and keep the immune system in tip-top shape.
As they are high in saturated fat, those looking to maintain their weight should limit their consumption to 2–3 servings a week (with one serving equalling 6–8 nuts).
Many will testify that cashew nuts are among the most delicious nuts on the planet. They taste yummy when eaten alone but are also used to top off many dishes and desserts around the world.
Cashew nuts get a bad rap because of their high fat content. However, they are actually high in unsaturated fats, which are valuable for the heart, are linked to lower incidences of coronary heart disease, and may lower the bad cholesterol in blood.
Cashew nuts are also high in selenium, copper, and zinc. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that may help to maintain lower levels of harmful free radicals in the body, while copper may improve heart health. Zinc appears to assist in building a strong immune system and may also affect memory and brain function.
Roasted chestnuts are a common snack in countries like Turkey, but be wary of the calories they are loaded with. Just five chestnuts pack on 85 calories, and the recommended daily intake for chestnuts is three nuts a day.
Not to worry, though. Unlike cashews, chestnuts are very low in fat and are loved for their unique sweet taste and crumbly texture. They are the only nuts that are primarily composed of starch and are used as a body-building food.
Chestnuts have potent benefits, such as assisting in the healing of damaged blood vessels and capillaries. This is due to their high vitamin C content, which is unfortunately greatly decreased by boiling or roasting the nuts. Chestnuts also help to maintain strong teeth due to their high calcium levels and contain elements that are crucial for blood coagulation.
Hazelnuts come from a small deciduous tree called the Hazel tree. Hazel trees originated from Turkey and southern Europe, but they now grow commercially in many countries including the USA, Turkey, and Italy. The USA is the leading producer of hazelnuts in the world.
The hazelnut is a rich, delicious nut with a striking flavor. They are packed with many important nutrients including vitamin E, copper, thiamin, manganese, and copper.
Hazelnuts may also aid with inflammation due to their high levels of healthy fats; in one study, participants who consumed hazelnuts as 18–20% of their diet reported a significant reduction in inflammation.
6. Macadamia Nuts
Like hazelnuts, macadamia nuts have a notable sweet taste and are packed with nutrients. They are rich in monounsaturated fats and are among the few foods to contain palmitoleic acid, an acid that may prevent excess fat storage.
Macadamias contain a wide variety of nutrients, including fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains 200 calories, so limit your daily intake if you are trying to lose weight.
Peanuts, also known as ground nuts, grow underground. These are a popular snack, eaten roasted, salted, or boiled with their shells on. A handful of peanuts, eaten raw and early in the morning, is excellent for the skin and hair.
Amongst the least expensive nuts, peanuts are often shunned by weight watchers, along with cashews, for their high-fat content. However, peanuts contain good fat that helps maintain the skin's suppleness and elasticity. Surprisingly, studies have actually proven that peanuts help reduce the risk of weight gain! One study found that women who eat nuts at least two times a week are less likely to gain weight than those who don't.
The numerous health benefits of peanuts are what made peanut butter so popular among gym-goers as well. Peanuts, along with many other types of nuts, contain many heart-healthy nutrients that might prevent heart disease. Peanuts are also a rich source of biotin, which is essential during pregnancy.
Most of the antioxidants found in peanuts are located in the skins; however, most people only eat the kernels.
Pecans come from a large, deciduous tree that is native to the USA. They are large, like walnuts, and have a smooth, buttery taste. They can be enjoyed all year round, roasted or raw, alone or included in salads or toppings.
Rich in fiber (important for healthy bowel movements) and vitamin B1, pecans are a nutrient-packed nut and offer tremendous health benefits. Pecans also provide a good source of important minerals like manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorous.
With their bright green color, pistachios not only taste great but also have fantastic health benefits. Pistachios have been shown to lower and maintain blood sugar levels through their high levels of vitamin B-6. They also make a healthy snack, as they have zero cholesterol content and may actually lower blood cholesterol levels.
Pistachios are energy-rich, with 159 calories per ounce. They have high antioxidant properties and have been shown to lower blood pressure.
What makes walnuts special is their appearance, which resembles the human brain. Not surprisingly, walnuts are known for boosting brainpower.
Walnuts have some of the highest concentrations of omega-3. This nutrient regulates the blood lipid profile, which helps to prevent and fight against coronary artery disease and stroke.
Walnuts also have a high level of antioxidants, which help guard against cancer and boost the immune system. Ellagic acid, an antioxidant found notably in walnuts, protects arteries against bad cholesterol.
How to Get the Most Benefits From Nuts
All the top 10 nuts listed here are among the most well-known, reasonably priced, best nuts for health. To get the most out of them, ensure that you eat a selection of these nuts at least two times a week. Ideally, you should include a handful of nuts in your daily diet. Who needs synthetic vitamin pills when you can have nature-made vitamins fresh from whole foods?
Enjoy these nuts as healthy snacks, part of your breakfast, with a salad, as a healthy dessert topping, or roasted. There's no limit as to how you can enjoy the health benefits of the world's healthiest nuts.
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- Cardoso, et al. “Brazil Nuts: Nutritional Composition, Health Benefits and Safety Aspects.” Food Research International, Elsevier, 14 Aug. 2017.
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- Kaltenberg, et al. “Zinc Signals Promote IL-2-Dependent Proliferation of T Cells.” European Journal of Immunology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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- Sekiya, et al. “Magnesium(II) Is a Crucial Constituent of the Blood Coagulation Cascade.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 12 Apr. 1996.
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- Stampfer, et al., “Vitamin E Consumption and the Risk of Coronary Disease in Women.” The New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Zong, et al. “Monounsaturated Fats from Plant and Animal Sources in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease among US Men and Women.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
chinelo on May 01, 2017:
Jacobb9205 on April 02, 2015:
Wow great list of best nuts for health, I appreciate it!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 22, 2015:
What a great hub on nuts and their health benefits. Very useful and interesting. Voted up!
Susan Trump from San Diego, California on December 31, 2014:
Thanks. I've been worried about a source of selenium. Now I can relax since I eat nuts every week.
Sunshine Days on October 31, 2014:
Good article! I have been eating more almonds lately because I had heard that they were healthy and provided many benefits. This article encouraged me to keep eating them and to try other varieties as well.
ladymaxwell25 on July 15, 2014:
I really enjoyed reading about the benefits of the nuts; I add them to my smoothies every morning.
healthmunsta (author) on November 01, 2013:
Thanks for stating that fact, idig. I'm not a huge fan of peanuts, but I just love roasted chestnuts! You are welcome to read my other hubs as well.
idigwebsites from United States on November 01, 2013:
Peanuts aren't really nuts but legumes. Nevertheless they're one of my favorite to munch on. I like all nuts there except chestnuts. Thanks for posting your very helpful and interesting blog.
healthmunsta (author) on October 31, 2013:
Thank you, Granny! I'm happy you shared that with us. Please check out my other hubs on health as well.
granny on October 31, 2013:
Nuts are the most nutritious foods! My favorite's are peanuts and hazelnuts! Thanks for this wonderful hub on nuts! It was awesome.
healthmunsta (author) on October 30, 2013:
Thanks, Stages! Wish you a fantastic day too!
Kathy Henderson from Pa on October 30, 2013:
Great info love the tips ~ have a great day :)