Nuts have been a staple of the American diet since way before almond milk and Nutella hit the market. Nothing says “tradition” like a bag of hot roasted peanuts at a baseball game, or a decadent slice of homemade pecan pie. However, while pecan pie is surely nostalgic and delicious, it would not behoove the average American to enjoy a slice every day after lunch. Sad, but true – many of our favorite nut products are not all too healthy, especially when consumed on a regular basis. In fact – not all nuts are created equally at all. Below we have listed and nutritionally explored some of America’s favorite nuts, determining which are the most nutrient dense and how each can benefit your overall health specifically.
Almonds are amongst the lowest-calorie nuts, making them an ideal option for dieters. In fact, incorporating an ounce of almonds into your daily diet (an ounce contains 160 calories, with 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat), can even help you to lose weight. Almonds are also rich in numerous potential benefits, such as the ability to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease1. As many as 20 potent antioxidant flavonoids have been identified in the skins of almonds, all which contribute to warding off free radicals and improving overall health1.
Pistachios, like other nuts, contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in antioxidants. Pistachios are also a great source of protein, iron, and fiber. Weighing it at 3 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein, and 140 calories per 1-ounce serving2, pistachios are also one of the lowest-calorie nuts, making them a great option for those who are looking for a healthy snack to keep them satisfied in between meals.
If concerned with heart health, walnuts are the one goody you should be picking out of the trail mix (hey, we all do it). 14 walnut halves contain about 185 calories, with 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat – predominantly heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids3. Studies show that eating around 8 walnuts after a fatty meal may help to reduce inflammation and protect arteries from oxidation3.
Like other nuts, cashews contain high levels of heart-protective monounsaturated fats, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease while working to bolster overall heart health. Cashews also contain high magnesium levels, meaning they may play a role in maintaining bone health as well. Cashews are lower in fat than many other nuts, with about 12 grams per one ounce serving, along with 5 grams of protein and about 160 calories4. Like almonds and pistachios, cashews are a good way to get in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants without compromising your waistline.
While peanuts may just be Americas favorite nut (comprising one half of the staple PB&J), they are not quite as nutrient packed as some other nuts are. However, peanuts are especially good in maintaining the health of your brain5. Peanuts are exceptionally high in folate, a mineral that may help ward off cognitive decline, and are also full of the brain-boosting healthy fats that most other nuts contain. Around an ounce of nuts will contain close to 170 calories, with 7 grams of protein and 14 grams of healthy fat5.
When searching for a nutrient-dense in-between-meal snack, any one of these five nuts is an ideal option. The fiber in nuts will work to keep you satisfied, while your vital organs will benefit from all of the vitamins and nutrients these nuts have to offer. So go ahead… go nuts!
Yours in good health,