Types of Nuts – Find the Best Nut for Your Health Goals

Types of Nuts

Nuts are incredible sources of healthy fats, protein and a wide range of nutrients. They’re particularly effective as a snack, one that can help to keep you full and satisfied. Nuts are also convenient, making them more practical than many other snack options.

But, with so many different types of nuts, how do you choose?

In this list, we’re examining the various options in depth – including their nutritional profiles and unique advantages. We’re also showing you which choices are best for different needs.  

Almonds

Almonds on a wooden table

Almonds are a particularly popular type of nut, one that features in many scientific studies. This research has linked almonds to many health benefits, including:

  • Improved heart health (1,2) and decreased risk of heart disease (3,4)
  • Reduced oxidative damage (5)
  • Increased performance in endurance exercise (6)

There are other benefits as well, far too many to discuss in detail here.

You can also get the benefits of almonds in various ways. One example is almond butter, which many people prefer over peanut butter. Almond butter is fairly expensive to buy but you can make your own. The site Cookie + Kate has one great recipe to try out.

And, of course, you can snack on almonds or include them in food, like protein bars.

But, despite the name, almond milk isn’t a good way to get nutrition from almonds. The ‘milk’ does offer some advantages, but it mostly consists of water. In most cases, you’re getting very few nutrients from the almonds.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 169 calories
  • Fat: 14.9 grams
  • Protein: 6.2 grams
  • Total Carbs: 5.4 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.3 grams

Who Are They Best For?

At 2.1 net grams of carbs per serving, almonds are relatively high in carbs. They’re still sometimes included on a keto diet but there are better choices.

Instead, almonds are a good choice for general snacking and for weight loss. They work well for this goal because they’re easy to find. There are many different products to choose from. Plus, almonds are popular and have an appealing taste.

Almonds are also one of the best nuts for protein. This aspect also helps with weight loss. It means you can stay satisfied between meals.

PROS
  • Easy to find
  • A significant source of calcium, copper, magnesium and vitamin E
  • Contain more calcium than other types of nuts
  • A decent source of protein and fiber
CONS
  • Higher in carbs than many other options

Cashews

Bowl of cashews

Cashews are another incredibly popular nut. They’re not as powerful as almonds, especially as they contain less protein and much less fiber. However, cashews are a good source of copper, magnesium and vitamin K. You can also find cashew butter from time-to-time.

Honestly though, the popularity of cashews isn’t based on their nutrition. Instead, many people love the way that the nuts taste, along with the softer texture.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 161 calories
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Protein: 4.3 grams
  • Total Carbs: 9.2 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.8 grams

Who Are They Best For?

There aren’t any dramatic nutritional advantages to cashews but they’re a great type of nut. More than anything, they’re best for people who love the flavor and texture of cashews. They’re also good if you’re looking for a softer nut, one that can be easily mixed in with meals.

PROS
  • Contains various beneficial nutrients
  • A good addition to many recipes
  • Appealing taste and texture
  • Softer than many other types of nuts
CONS
  • Very high in carbs
  • Cashews tend to be expensive
  • Not suitable for keto
  • Low in fiber
  • Low in protein

Peanuts

Peanuts in their shells and shelled peanuts

Peanuts can help people to lose weight, partly by increasing satiety (7,8,9). This effect is true regardless of how you consume peanuts, including the use of peanut butter (10).

Interestingly, some types of peanuts are particularly high in oleic acid, which may increase health benefits (11). This includes helping to decrease inflammation.

Peanuts also contain antioxidants, such as coumaric acid (12,13). As such, they can help reduce oxidative stress and protect against some diseases.

As you probably know, peanuts aren’t technically nuts at all, they’re legumes. This classification means that they cannot be consumed as part of a paleo diet.

Still, they’re typically considered nuts and are eaten in the same way, which is why they’re included in this list. Their nutrient composition is also similar to tree nuts. You see a similar pattern with some other items on the list too.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 164 calories
  • Fat: 13.9 grams
  • Protein: 6.6 grams
  • Total Carbs: 6.0 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.2 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Peanuts are best for anyone budget-conscious that wants the health benefits of nuts. Even though peanuts are legumes, they offer most of the same advantages and nutrients. They’re also considerably cheaper and easier to find than other options.

Plus, many of the health benefits associated with nut consumption also apply to peanuts. For that matter, studies often include peanuts when considering nuts, despite the classification difference.

PROS
  • Inexpensive
  • Very easy to find
CONS
  • Not suitable for the paleo diet
  • Many people have peanut allergies
  • Peanuts are technically legumes, not nuts

Walnuts

Walnuts on a table

Walnuts are strongly associated with brain health. That’s not just because of their shape either. One relatively recent study showed a positive association between regular consumption of walnuts and cognitive function (14).

Walnuts also contain more linoleic acid than other nuts (15), which may offer additional health benefits. Walnuts are a particularly good source of antioxidants too, containing upwards of 20 mmol per 100 g (16).

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 185 calories
  • Fat: 18.4 grams
  • Protein: 4.3 grams
  • Total Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.9 grams

Who Are They Best For?

The combination of linoleic acid, antioxidants and cognitive benefits make walnuts great for anyone who wants to improve long-term health. In particular, the antioxidants can help to lower oxidative stress and may reduce disease risk.

PROS
  • May improve brain function
  • Are commonly found unroasted
  • Moderate amount of protein and fiber
CONS
  • Higher in calories than some other options

​ Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts in a bowl on a table

Brazil nuts aren’t the most popular nut. But, they are the single best source of selenium, offering more than 700% of your daily intake. This overlooked nutrient is important and may help reduce colon cancer risk and improve fertility in males (17).

Brazil nuts are also larger than other types of nuts. This can sometimes make them more difficult to include in recipes. The size is also frustrating when mixed in with other nuts. However, the size difference means that there are fewer nuts per serving, which might be appealing.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 190 calories
  • Fat: 19 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Total Carbs: 3 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Brazil nuts are one of the best choices for a keto diet, as they are low in net carbs and high in fat. They’re also powerful for men, due to their impacts on fertility. For that matter, most people should be eating Brazil nuts regularly, simply to increase selenium intake.

PROS
  • Particularly good source of selenium
  • Good source of healthy fats
CONS
  • Many people don’t enjoy the flavor
  • Relatively high in calories
  • Fiber and protein content is on the low side

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts on a table

Macadamia nuts are most popular for their flavor – and you’ll often see them in dessert recipes. They do also have some nutritional advantages, including significant levels of manganese and thiamin. While they are high in fat, fat is mostly monounsaturated, which is particularly good for health.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 201 calories
  • Fat: 21.2 grams
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Total Carbs: 4.0 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.4 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Macadamia nuts are a good choice for keto dieters. They have a low net carb count per serving, while also acting as a significant source of healthy fats.

The nuts are also appealing as a treat, given that many people love the taste and texture. But, you should be careful with your serving size – as the higher calories and lower protein content make it easy to overconsume the nuts.

PROS
  • Good source of monounsaturated fats
  • Appealing taste and texture
  • Low in net carbs
CONS
  • High in calories per serving
  • Low in protein

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts on a table

Hazelnuts are another popular dessert ingredient because of the flavor that they add.

They’re particularly powerful as a source of oleic acid (18). This is the same compound you find in olive oil and avocados. Most nuts do have some oleic acid but hazelnuts are the most significant source.

There are other nutrients present too, including manganese, vitamin E and copper. The skin of hazelnuts also contains compounds called proanthocyanidins, which are particularly important antioxidants (19,20,21).

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 176 calories
  • Fat: 17 grams
  • Protein: 4.2 grams
  • Total Carbs: 4.7 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.7 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Hazelnuts are somewhere in the middle of the range in most areas, including protein, carbs and calorie content. As such, they’re not the best choice for any particular situation. Nevertheless, they do contain beneficial nutrients and are particularly appealing in desserts.

PROS
  • A key source of oleic acid
  • A significant source of antioxidants
  • Contains some beneficial nutrients
CONS
  • There are better choices for protein, carbs, fats and fiber

Pecans

Scoop of pecan nuts

Pecans are a versatile type of nut. You’ll often find them in recipes, including pecan pie.

Research also shows that they’re a powerful source of antioxidants and can help to promote heart health (22,23,24). The most significant nutrients present are manganese, copper, thiamin and magnesium. Pecans contain oleic acid as well, although not as much as hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds (25,26).

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 193 calories
  • Fat: 20.2 grams
  • Protein: 2.6 grams
  • Total Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.7 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Pecans are another good general type of nut. They’re not particularly powerful in any one area but they’re another option. They also work well in many recipes, which may be reason enough to eat pecans regularly.

PROS
  • Good source of healthy fats
  • Decent amount of fiber
CONS
  • Relatively high in calories
  • Low protein content

Pistachio Nuts

Pistachio Nuts on a table

Pistachios are often chosen for their flavor. They’re unusual in that you have a shell to deal with, rather than just the nut itself. Pistachios do contain various important nutrients, including vitamin B6, thiamin, copper and manganese.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 160 calories
  • Fat: 12.9 grams
  • Protein: 6.0 grams
  • Total Carbs: 7.7 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.9 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Pistachio nuts can be a good choice for weight loss, due to their high level of protein. Their calorie content is also similar to many other types of nuts.

The shell of the nut can also be useful. It helps to slow you down while you are eating the nuts. Plus, the shells act as a visual illustration of the amount you’ve eaten. These aspects can be beneficial for weight loss, helping to reduce the risk of eating too many nuts at a time.

PROS
  • Decent source of protein and fiber
  • Appealing flavor
  • Contains various important nutrients
CONS
  • Unsuitable for a keto diet
  • You have to deal with the shells

Pine Nuts

Pine Nuts on a table

Pine nuts are popular for snacking and they’re great in recipes as well. They’re a good source of manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorous. The magnesium is particularly important, as many people are deficient in this compound.

Pine nuts also have a shorter shelf life than many other types of nuts. It’s best to keep them in your fridge. The smaller size may make pine nuts slightly less practical for snacking. But, this is also what makes them so powerful in recipes, so the size isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Technically speaking, pine nuts aren’t considered nuts. They’re seeds from some species of pine tree. However, they are consumed like nuts and have similar nutritional properties.

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 190 calories
  • Fat: 19.3 grams
  • Protein: 3.9 grams
  • Total Carbs: 3.7 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.0 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Pine nuts are most powerful for their versatility. You’ll often see them as ingredients, like in pesto. Pine nuts can also be sprinkled on top of many different dishes and salads, adding some extra protein and a nice crunch.

PROS
  • Low in total carbs
  • Good source of healthy fats
  • Contains important nutrients, including magnesium
CONS
  • Calorie content is higher than some other types of nuts
  • Low fiber content

Chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts on a table

Unlike many other nuts, chestnuts should not be eaten raw (as they contain significant tannic acid). Most of the time, they’re roasted before consumption.

There are different varieties of chestnuts. American chestnuts are the ones that contain tannic acid and need to be cooked. Some types of European chestnut can be consumed raw, but you’ll need to check first.

Along with pecans and walnuts, chestnuts are a particularly good source of antioxidants. Chestnuts are also a good source of potassium and are very low in sodium.

Chestnuts are unusual nutritionally. Other types of nuts contain at least 160 calories per 1 oz serving, while chestnuts just have 69 calories for the same serving size. However, chestnuts are lower in many other nutrients, including fats and protein. 

Nutritional Data (per 1 oz serving):

  • 69 calories
  • Fat: 0.6 grams
  • Protein: 0.9 gram
  • Total Carbs: 15 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.4 grams

Who Are They Best For?

Chestnuts may work well as a low-calorie snack, especially for anyone on a calorie-restricted diet. However, the nuts contain very little protein, so they will be less satisfying than most other options.

They can also be appealing to people who need to watch their sodium intake.

PROS
  • Low in calories
  • Many people love roasted chestnuts
  • A significant source of antioxidants
  • Low in sodium
CONS
  • Very low in protein
  • High in carbs
  • Many varieties cannot be eaten raw
  • Not suitable for a keto diet

Are Nuts Good for Weight Loss?

Assorted nuts

With all of the evidence above, it should be clear that nuts are healthy. But, what about weight loss? Nuts do have a mixed reputation in this field.

  • Some people find them incredibly powerful. After all, nuts are satisfying. They’re also much better for you than highly processed snacks.
  • Other people find that nuts cause weight gain.

So, which idea is true?

Well, they both are. In the right portions, nuts can help you lose weight. But, they’re also very easy to overeat. This is especially relevant if you have a bowl (or bag) full of roasted and salted nuts in front of you.

And remember, nuts are calorie dense. For example, a cup of almonds (which many people could eat in a sitting) contains 824 calories (27).

Calories and Weight Loss

Now, counting calories isn’t necessary for weight loss, especially not on diets like keto, intermittent fasting or paleo. The site Kara Lydon also highlights why this idea is so heavily flawed.

Still, calorie counts can help you to figure out the best serving size for your diet and lifestyle. Once you know this, you can easily get the weight loss benefits of nuts, without the risk of overeating them.

Some people even find that nuts have an almost addictive quality. This can be frustrating for weight loss, especially if you’re not good at portion control.

To get around this, you need to be careful about how many nuts you eat. Pay attention to recipes that use nuts too. For example, you’ll often see nuts in paleo desserts.

Which Nuts Should You Be Eating?

There is no single best type of nut. Instead, you’ll get similar advantages regardless of the nut that you choose.

Health Benefits of Nuts

In fact, there are many health benefits simply associated with nut intake, regardless of the type of nut that you’re consuming. These include a decreased risk of death (28,29), along with improved blood lipid (30) and blood sugar levels (31). Likewise, nuts are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (32).

Nuts are also anti-inflammatory, a good source of protein and a powerhouse of healthy fats. These areas can all promote health as well.

Likewise, there is no most nutritious nut. Each type of nut is higher in some nutrients and lower in others. The main way to get benefits is to simply include nuts in your diet regularly. That’s not hard to do.

For you personally, the best choices will vary, depending on your individual needs.

  • For keto dieters. Macadamia nuts, pecans and Brazil nuts are particularly good choices.
  • For paleo dieters. Any nut is equally good, except for peanuts.
  • For weight loss. All nuts can help you lose weight but chestnuts, pistachio nuts, cashews, peanuts and almonds all have less than 170 calories per ounce.
  • For snacking. Almonds, peanuts and pistachio nuts all have at least 6 grams of protein per ounce, making them particularly satisfying.
  • For health benefits. All nuts offer health benefits, but almonds have been particularly well researched. These may be a good place to start.
  • For antioxidants. Pecans, walnuts and chestnuts are the most powerful options.
  • For anyone budget-conscious. Peanuts are often inexpensive and they still offer most of the same benefits that you find with other nuts.

And finally, choose the nuts you enjoy. You probably have a few that you prefer over others. If they fit in your diet, stick with them.

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Types of Nuts

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