Health Benefits of Nuts: Weight Loss, Heart Health, & More | Almanac.com

Health Benefits of Nuts: Weight Loss, Heart Health, & More


Which Nuts Are the Healthiest?

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Nuts are a superfood! They can help with weight control and so much more. But which nut is healthiest? Let’s go nuts about one of nature’s most perfect foods!

Nuts and Weight Control

If you love nuts of any kind as much as I do (providing you don’t suffer from allergies to them*), you’ll rejoice at this published research suggesting that, on average, folks who eat a handful of nuts or peanuts every day gain only half as much weight through adulthood as folks who don’t eat nuts.

Researchers recommend replacing half a serving a day of less-healthful foods (e.g., red or processed meat, french fries, chips, cookies) with a serving of nuts. 

Nuts and Nutrition

And as nut-eaters gain less weight, they also gain important nutritional benefits:

  • healthy unsaturated fats (lower bad cholesterol)
  • omega-3 fatty acids (help your heart)
  • fiber (lowers your cholesterol, makes you feel full)
  • quality protein
  • many essential minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin E (stops plaque in arteries)
  • and an array of antioxidants and other phytonutrients

Nuts and Heart Health

Earlier and ongoing research suggests that eating nuts five or more times a week may lower one’s risk of getting heart disease or dying from it!

Nuts lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease, improve the health of the lining of your arteries, lower bad cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of developing blood clots that lead to heart attacks!

Nuts’ protein content can also maintain proper blood sugar levels so replace some of those sugary or fatty snacks with nuts to avoid that sugar crash!

What is a Healthy Serving of Nuts?

Of course, you must eat a healthy serving of nuts or you’ll be adding too many calories. 

A “serving” of nuts, about an ounce, contains between 160 and 200 calories, mostly in the form of healthy fats. If you’re estimating rather than weighing, one ounce means about:

  • 24 almonds,
  • 18 cashews,
  • 12 hazelnuts or filberts,
  • 8 medium Brazil nuts,
  • 12 macadamia nuts,
  • 35 peanuts (one tablespoon of all-peanut peanut butter),
  • 15 pecan halves,
  • 14 walnut halves, and
  • 49 pistachios. 

Note: The trick is portioning out and staying roughly within that one-ounce serving. Eating more and more nuts won’t help prevent weight gain, and may accelerate it.

The American Heart Association recommends eating about 4 servings of unsalted nuts a week. 

Which Nuts Are Healthiest?

Most nuts are healthy, but some seem to be more heart-healthy than others, namely:

  1. almonds
  2. macadamia nuts
  3. hazelnuts
  4. pecans
  5. walnuts
  6. peanuts (although technically a legume, not a nut)

However, nutritionists suggest eating mixtures of nuts, because of their different nutrient profiles. The type of nuts you choose to eat isn’t as important. 

If you choose to buy raw nuts and roast them yourself, choose a low, slow roasting or pan-toasting process—especially for almonds—and toast just enough to release their appealing aromas and flavors. Avoid nuts cooked in oils (or covered in chocolate, sugar, or salt).

*Some people experience allergic reactions, occasionally fatal, to tree nuts or peanuts, including nut butters and oils, as well baked goods, packaged mixes, and other products that contain nuts. Both children and adults may experience nut allergies, and they can develop at any time in life.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include: itching or tingling of throat/lips/tongue, shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, hives or other skin rashes, diarrhea, and other digestive symptoms. If you, your child, or someone else in your family experiences any of these symptoms after eating nuts, seek medical attention right away. 

More About Nuts

When there are plenty of nuts, expect a hot and dry harvest. -C.L. Prince

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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