Go ahead; go nuts for nuts.
These nutritional powerhouses get a bad rap for being high in fat, but they shouldn’t — the fats they contain are good-for-you unsaturated fats.
Consuming them in moderation on a daily basis can help lower cholesterol, promote heart health and diminish inflammation in your body.
Allergic? Try adding seeds into your diet. They’re another natural source of protein and healthy fats.
The tricky thing about nuts and seeds, however, is there are so many varieties to choose from and which ones are the best for you. Based off ratings from Fooducate and the USDA; we’ve ranked the top 15 Nuts and Seeds you can add into your diet. So get snacking.
1. Almonds (23 kernels)
Fat: 14g (1 gram saturated)
Almonds are good source of calcium, iron, fiber, vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. And almonds may deliver more nutrition per calorie than originally thought. The USDA recently published a study showing that almonds actually contain about 20% fewer calories than what currently appears on Nutrition Facts Panels. A serving delivers 129 calories instead of 163 calories.
2. Chia Seeds (1 ounce serving)
Fat: 9g (1 gram saturated)
Chia seeds offer alpha-linoleic acid, one of the major forms of omega-3s and can be consumed in their whole form (unlike their counterpart Flax Seeds). When chia is exposed to water, it forms a gel which increases its size and weight in your stomach, promoting fullness.(2)
3. Flax Seeds (1 ounce serving)
Fat: 12g (1 gram saturated)
The omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds help regulate cholesterol. Recent studies found that consuming three daily tablespoons of flaxseed lignans (compounds in the seed) for three months lowered cholesterol by between 10 and 20%. (3)
4. Sunflower Seeds
Fat: 14g (2 grams saturated)
No wonder sunflower seeds are a baseball players’ favorite is high in magnesium, which helps keeps nerves, blood vessels and muscles relaxed and promotes nerve health.
5. Pistachios (49 pistachios)
Fat: 13g (1.5 gram saturated)
Pistachios are the only completely cholesterol-free nut, and the only ones to deliver zeaxanthin, which reduces the risk of eye disease.(5)
High in monounsaturated fats, Pistachios keep your heart healthy, while nutrients like copper, magnesium and B vitamins strengthen your immune system. And here’s a bonus for the calorie-conscious: Their shell doubles as a ”speed bump,” slowing down eating and cutting calories up to 40%.(6)
6. Sesame Seeds (1-ounce)
Fat: 14 (2g saturated)
Sesame seeds are more than just garnish for buns and sushi rolls, they are filled with manganese and copper, which reduces inflammation and swelling. They’re also high in calcium and iron, key players in bone health.(7)
7. Cashews (18 kernels)
Fat: 14g (2 gram saturated)
Cashews contain higher amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin K than any other nut. Including cashews in your daily diet has been shown to build up stronger bones, teeth, nails, and hair in adolescents. (8)
8. Peanuts (28 pods)
Fat: 14g (2g saturated)
Okay peanuts are a little iffy on our rating scale; they’re actually not ”nuts” but legumes. A good source of potassium, peanuts help regulate water levels in the body, balance metabolism and prevent cramping.(9)
9. Walnuts (14 halves)
Fat: 17g (1g saturated)
The “King of all nuts” (according to a study by the American Chemical Society) walnuts deliver the highest amount of antioxidants per serving of all nuts. They are higher in fat, but it’s all the good stuff: monounsaturated and omega-3’s that help prevent heart disease and battle muscle soreness.(10)
10. Hazelnuts (20 kernels)
Fat: 17g (1 gram saturated)
Sore? Snack on hazlenuts. Hazlenuts (also known as filberts, which is way more fun to say) are high in magnesium, copper, phosphorus, vitamin E and selenium, which has been shown to prevent tissue degradation. They also help produce healthy red and white blood cells.(11)
11. Pine Nuts (160 kernels)
Fat: 10g (1.5g saturated)
Pine nuts are popular in cooking. Italian chefs use them in everything from pesto sauce to pilafs. But you may want to try them out during your next snack time too. Pine nuts have been linked to sharper vision, and can boost your immune system thanks to all the vitamin E and K. (12)(13)
12. Pecans (19 halves)
Fat: 21g (2g saturated)
Pecans are higher in calories and fat and lower in protein compared to most nuts, but don’t count them out of your rotation. People who include pecans in their daily diet have experienced significant improvements in cardiovascular lipid profiles. That’s a fancy way of saying their hearts are stronger. (14)
13. Macadamia Nuts (11 kernels)
Fat: 22g (4g saturated)
May want to take it easy on macadamia nuts are higher in saturated fat than most nuts. The USDA recommends taking in only 7 percent of your calories from saturated fats. But don’t give up on them entirely. Macadamia nuts are a good source of magnesium and potassium, which helps promote muscle building and healthy heart functions. Plus, they’ve been shown to boost energy levels.(15)
14. Brazil Nuts 7 kernels)
Fat: 21g (4.5g saturated)
Occasionally snacking on Brazil nuts is a good choice, but as with macadamia nuts, you should limit your intake. High in selenium, Brazil nuts help your body fight off cell-damaging free radicals, and they have been shown to help reduce breakouts.(16)
15. Pumpkin Seeds (1-ounce serving)
With manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and protein in every seed, you may just skip the candy next halloween and just eat your Jack-O-Lateran. Plus pumpkin seeds offer vitamin K, which promotes bone density and helps blood clotting.(17)
(2) Scheer, James. The Magic of Chia: Revival of an Ancient Wonder Food. Frog Books, 2000.
(3) Vijaimohan, K., et al. \”Beneficial effects of alpha linolenic acid rich flaxseed oil on growth performance and hepatic cholesterol metabolism in high fat diet fed rats.\” Life sciences 79.5 (2006): 448.
(4) Attucci, Sylvie, et al. \”Oxidative phosphorylation by mitochondria extracted from dry sunflower seeds.\” Plant physiology 95.2 (1991): 390-398.
(5) Pistachio Nuts Reduce Triglycerides and Body Weight by Comparison to Refined Carbohydrate Snack in Obese Subjects on a 12-Week Weight Loss Program. Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, FACN, Rubens Song, MD, Christine Nguyen, BS, Alona Zerlin, RD, MS, Hannah Karp, BS, Kris Naowamondhol, BS, Gail Thames, BS, Kun Gao, PhD, Luyi Li, MS, Chi-Hong Tseng, PhD, Susanne M Henning, PhD, RD and David Heber, MD, PhD, FACN. UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California. J Am Coll Nutr June 2010 vol. 29 no. 3 198-203
(6) Nutrition Today:January/February 2008 – Volume 43 – Issue 1 – pp 36-40 doi: 10.1097/01.NT.0000303304.16471.e6 Pleasures of the Table
(7) Antioxidant activity of white and black sesame seeds and their hull fractions. Food Control, Volume 33, Issue 1, September 2013, Pages 105–113
(8) Bolling, Bradley W., et al. \”Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.\” Nutrition research reviews 24.2 (2011): 244.
(9) Go, Big B. \”The Latest Findings on Vitamins & Minerals.\”
(10) Lowery, Lonnie M. \”Dietary fat and sports nutrition: a primer.\” Journal of Sports Scienceand Medicine 3.3 (2004): 106-117.
(11) PERSHERN, ANITA S., WILLIAM M. BREENE, and EDWARD C. LULAI. \”ANALYSIS of FACTORS INFLUENCING LIPID OXIDATION IN HAZELNUTS (CORYLUS SPP. 1).\” Journal of food processing and preservation 19.1 (1995): 9-26.
(12) Lakhtakia, Rishab, et al. \”The role of antioxidants in human health maintenance: Small molecules with infinite functions.\” IJPSR 2 (2011): 1395-402.
(13) Gómez-Ariza, J. L., A. Arias-Borrego, and T. García-Barrera. \”Combined use of total metal content and size fractionation of metal biomolecules to determine the provenance of pine nuts (Pinus pinea).\” Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 388.5-6 (2007): 1295-1302.
(14) Rajaram, Sujatha, et al. \”A monounsaturated fatty acid–rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women.\” The Journal of nutrition 131.9 (2001): 2275-2279.
(15) Bowden, Jonny. The 150 most effective ways to boost your energy: the surprising, unbiased truth about using nutrition, exercise, supplements, stress relief, and personal empowerment to stay energized all day, refuel your body, energize your mind, make you sleep better and give you vitality from dawn to bedtime. Fair Winds, 2008.
(16) Scott-Dixon, Krista. \”All About Acne & Nutrition.\”
(17) n−3 Fatty acid dietary recommendations and food sources to achieve essentiality and cardiovascular benefits. Sarah K Gebauer, Tricia L Psota, William S Harris, and Penny M Kris-Etherton. Am J Clin Nutr June 2006 vol. 83 no. 6 S1526-1535S