What is the Best Nut for Health?

The short answer is that there is no best nut anymore than there is a best fruit, best vegetable or best bean. Each type of nut has a unique array of nutrients and phytonutrients. Enjoy them all for what they have to offer. They are all “the best nut.”

nuts on a board

Which nut is best for health?

Today’s media climate is all about best foods and superfoods. The Internet and news blurbs scream that one food or another is the magic shield to keep you young, strong and disease-free. But just like with other food groups, there is no single nut that reigns supreme. I wrote about 5 common nuts and their health benefits for Environmental Nutrition. That article has been republished by the Chicago Tribune. You can read all about almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts in my article. Below are a few highlights from the article and some additional tips.

a bowl of the best nuts

A 1/4-cup serving of mixed nuts serves up tons of health-boosting nutrients and phytonutrients.

In general, eating nuts is linked to less type 2 diabetes, healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smaller waist circumference, better blood pressure levels, less insulin resistance and more. Want to know what else you can eat to help prevent type 2 diabetes? Check out Add These Foods to Your Prediabetes Diet. And remember, what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. So it’s smart to eat nuts.

  • Nuts are an important part of many healthy eating patterns, such as a Mediterranean-style diet and plant-based diets.
  • Eating almonds in place of less healthful foods can improve cholesterol levels and might even help the way HDL-cholesterol functions. Eating just 23 almonds can give you 50% of the recommended amount of the antioxidant vitamin E.
  • Just one Brazil nut a day can keep selenium deficiency away. A single nut offers more than the recommended daily intake of this antioxidant mineral.
  • Though not a true nut, the peanut has a similar nutrient profile and offers health benefits comparable to other nuts. And they are typically more affordable. Peanut allergies can be quite serious. Fortunately, new research finds a method to reduce a child’s risk for developing a peanut allergy. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to learn when and how to introduce peanuts into your child’s diet.
  • Pecans are native to America! And they’re packed with the same types of phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables and freshly brewed tea.
  • Pistachios pack a mere 3 calories per nut. Plus they offer up lutein and zeaxanthin, two cousins of beta-carotene, which appear to protect both the eye and the brain.
  • Walnuts uniquely provide ALA, an important omega-3 fatty acid. I was at a sponsored conference when I first learned that walnuts may also help protect against colon cancer and have other beneficial effects in the gut. Here’s How to Throw a Dinner Party for Your Gut Bacteria.
Walnuts? A Best Nut?

This freshly opened walnut seems to be saying that it’s heart-healthy! I was lucky to see these nuts harvested on a sponsored tour. You can see my photos of the California Walnut Harvest.

Enjoy Nuts Daily – They’re All the Best Nut

There are so, so many ways to eat and love nuts. Here are just a few tips to love the heck out of every best nut.

  • Top green vegetables with toasted cashews. Cashews have a unique buttery taste, so add a few to any dish calling for both crunch and butter flavor.
  • Toss any favorite nut into side dishes such as rice, quinoa and barley as well as fruit salads and green salads for a crunchy boost of nutrition.
  • Mix walnuts or pecans into batter for banana bread, zucchini bread, bran muffins and pancakes.
  • Snack on pistachios in the shell, and place the empty shells in a dish in front of you to keep an eye on portion control.
  • Add chopped nuts to chicken salad.
  • Sprinkle roasted peanuts over some Asian dishes like this Asian-Inspired Barramundi.

    Asian-style Barramundi on spinach

    Asian-style Barramundi

  • Fill mushroom caps with diced nuts and wild rice.
  • Slip a toasted pecan and some honey-drizzled goat cheese into a large date.
  • Grind nuts in a food processor to make “nut crumbs.” Sprinkle them over casseroles like you would bread crumbs.
  • Roll these Sweet Potato Balls in chopped walnuts or pecans.

Healthy Holiday Sweet Potato Balls

And finally, here’s one of my favorite desserts with benefits. I eat 6 or 7 chocolate-covered almonds nearly daily. Yep, Every. Single. Day.

chocolate covered almonds as treats

Your turn! What’s a favorite way to eat health-boosting nuts.

Jill-Weisenberger_about-image-2
Jill Weisenberger

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.

Leave a Reply

5 Comments

  1. Sreekant on January 24, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Hi Jill, thank you for mentioning the role and use of nuts in maintaining health. Would like to try some of the amazing recipes you have mentioned in the post. Will definitely try chocolate oat peanut butter balls. looking for more delicious recipes 🙂

  2. Jill Weisenberger on January 27, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Isn’t it good to know that all of these nuts have something good and unique to offer!

  3. Samual on February 3, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Health is wealth.

  4. Pillsbrothers on February 13, 2019 at 3:32 am

    Nice post. Eating nuts has many health benefits and everyone should include them in their diets. Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds are also very nutritious and should be taken daily.

    • Jill Weisenberger on February 13, 2019 at 8:28 am

      Yes! I agree that seeds like the ones you mention are also health-boosting foods.

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