Everything You Need To Know About Nuts, The Good And The Bad

There’s a good reason why nuts are so popular – they’re delicious, convenient, and quite versatile. Not to mention they can be included in many different diets, from vegan to keto.

Even though nuts are high in calories and fat, they offer numerous health benefits and are a great source of slow-burning energy.

Snacking on nuts which are high-fat high protein is a bit like throwing a log on your energy fire that will burn slowly and provide a steady slow release of energy. Compare that to snacking on something carbohydrate-rich like crackers and it’s like throwing paper on your fire, it gives off a lot of energy when it starts burning but it doesn’t last long and you soon want more.

But are all nuts created equal? The truth is, some nuts are better for you than others. Read on to learn more about nuts, their health benefits, and how much nuts you should consume a day.

• Almonds
• Cashews
• Brazil nuts
• Pecans
• Hazelnuts
• Pistachios
• Macadamia nuts
• Walnuts
• Pine nuts

Note: Did you know that peanuts aren’t technically nuts? They’re actually legumes, just like beans and peas), but since they’re often referred to as nuts, we’ll be covering them in this article as well.

Nuts are seed kernels that are high in fat and calories. They have a hard shell that is usually inedible and needs to be removed. Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients. Here’s what an ounce of mixed nuts contains:

• Protein: 5 g
• Calories: 173
• Fat: 16 g
• Fiber: 3 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Selenium: 56% of the RDI
• Manganese: 26% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 16% of the RDI
• Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
• Plus a ton of antioxidants

This nutrient profile makes nuts extremely beneficial. Some of the most important health benefits of nuts include:

• Reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
• Improved gut health
• Reduced risk of diabetes
• Reduced inflammation
• Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack

But does this apply to all nuts? The above-listed macros are for a serving of mixed nuts. The truth is, certain nuts are higher in certain nutrients than other nuts. For example, a single Brazil nut contains more than 100% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for selenium. The carbohydrates content is also very variable in different nuts – for instance, the content of digestible carbohydrates in macadamia nuts and hazelnuts is under 2g per serving, whereas in cashews, this content is 8g.

Let’s go through some of the most popular nuts and see which ones are the best to consume.

The Good and the Bad Sides of Nuts


1. Walnuts

One serving(a small handful or 28 g) of walnuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 182
• Fiber: 2 g
• Fat: 18 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Walnuts are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acid and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which are responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease by more than 50%. The omega-3 fatty acid is also known to raise the levels of serotonin in the brain, which gives walnuts potential for reducing depression symptoms.

2. Almonds

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of almonds contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 161
• Fiber: 3.5 g
• Fat: 14 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Magnesium: 19% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI

Studies have shown that consuming almonds on a regular basis can help decrease LDL cholesterol level, which is very harmful to cardiovascular health. These amazing nuts can also reduce blood pressure and facilitate weight loss when included in low-calorie diets. In addition, almonds can help regulate blood sugar levels and may help reduce inflammation in people with diabetes. Finally, almonds support the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

3. Pistachios

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of pistachios contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 156
• Fiber: 3 g
• Fat: 12.5 g
• Carbs: 8 g
• Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 3% of the RDI

Did you know that an ounce of these nuts contains the same amount of potassium you would get from one banana? Very rich in fiber and protein, pistachios can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also help manage oxidative stress and reduce blood sugar increase after a meal.

4. Cashews

One serving of cashews contains:

• Protein: 5 g
• Calories: 155
• Fiber: 1 g
• Fat: 12 g
• Carbs: 9 g
• Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Cashews have a lower fat content and higher carb and protein content than most other nuts. More than 60% of the fat they contain is derived from oleic acid, a  monounsaturated fat known to decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Even though cashews are lower in vitamin E than most nuts, they’re a great source of copper (which assists in energy production and provides flexibility in bones, joints, and blood vessels), magnesium (protects against high blood pressure and supports healthy bones and muscles), and zinc (helps maintain healthy vision and support the immune system).

5. Macadamia Nuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of macadamia nuts contains:

• Protein: 2 g
• Calories: 200
• Fiber: 2.5 g
• Fat: 21 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 9% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

My personal favourite with a delicious creamy taste. More than 75% of the fat found in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated fat, which is very beneficial for the heart. These nuts also contain specific kinds of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which are not readily available in many other foods. In addition, macadamia nuts contain just over 1 gram of natural sugar, and they are a low glycemic index food.

6. Hazelnuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of hazelnuts contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 176
• Fiber: 3.5 g
• Fat: 9 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

Monounsaturated fatty acids make up 50% - 70% of the kernel, which makes hazelnuts quite high in calories. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, you should probably avoid them. In addition, hazelnuts can be a common trigger in people suffering from nut allergies.

But this doesn’t mean that hazelnuts aren’t good for you. On the contrary, they have an impressive nutrient profile. Hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats which are also present in olive oil, as well as antioxidants which help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.

Finally, hazelnuts are very rich in fiber which can reduce the risk of colon cancer and suppress appetite.

7. Pecans

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of pecans contains:

• Protein: 3 g
• Calories: 193
• Fiber: 2.5 g
• Fat: 20 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 2% of the RDI

Pecans are rich in antioxidants that help protect the heart. One of the antioxidants they contain – vitamin E – is known for preventing premature aging and cell damage. Pecans are also full of good fats that help lower cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of pecans is especially important for men because they contain beta-sitosterol which has been proven to maintain good prostate health.

8. Brazil Nuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of Brazil nuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 182
• Fiber: 2 g
• Fat: 18 g
• Carbs: 3 g
• Magnesium: 26% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI

Brazil nuts are most renowned for their high selenium content: 1 ounce of Brazil nuts will provide you with over 100% of the RDI for this nutrient, which makes them the richest known food source of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that maintains a healthy immune system and prevents damage to the cells and nerves.

Brazil nuts also help control cholesterol levels, lower oxidative stress, improve the blood vessels function, and reduce inflammation.

9. Peanuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of peanuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 176
• Fiber: 3 g
• Fat: 17 g
• Carbs: 5 g
• Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 21% of the RDI

Peanuts are literally packed with nutrients: folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, choline, Vitamin E and B6, as well as minerals like phosphorus, zinc, potassium, iron, selenium, manganese, and copper. They also contain resveratrol, which is a potent antiaging molecule.

Peanuts are also rich in fiber and protein which are responsible for improving satiety and aiding weight loss.

However, peanuts also contain a number of antinutrients, i.e. substances that impair the absorption of nutrients and decrease nutritional value. The most noteworthy antinutrient found in peanuts is phytic acid (phytate) which reduces the availability of zinc and iron in peanuts, lowering their nutritional value. This is usually not a serious concern in people who consume meat on a regular basis, as well as in those eating a well-balanced diet. Nonetheless, it can be a problem in developing countries where the main food sources are legumes and grains. If you follow a paleo diet then peanuts are not recommended due to their an antinutrient content but generally they are fine for most people to consume in moderation.

Common Concerns Surrounding Nuts

The big question is: How much nuts should you consume daily?

Nuts make a great snack between meals and can be a good addition to salads or meals to provide extra protein. They are high in fat and calories though so it’s important to consider this when adding them to your diet and looking at your overall food consumption for the day.

Most experts recommend limiting your daily intake to 1.5 oz. or ¼ cup per day, a small handful is a good guide for most people. The fats found in nuts are healthy unsaturated fats which, along with fiber and protein which help appetite suppression.

As we discussed above each nut has its own unique profile of benefits so mixing nuts is a great way to make sure you’re getting a wide range of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Some of my favourite ways of incorporating nuts into my diet is adding chopped walnuts and pecans to my breakfast oats in the morning. A chopped apple dipped in almond butter is also a delicious snack between meals.

Finally, beware of nut allergies. Nuts are on the list of the 8 most common food allergens. A severe case of allergic nut reaction can result in an anaphylactic shock, which manifests with a sudden drop of blood pressure and unconsciousness. For this reason, avoid giving nuts to children younger than eight months.

There’s a good reason why nuts are so popular – they’re delicious, convenient, and quite versatile. Not to mention they can be included in many different diets, from vegan to keto.

Even though nuts are high in calories and fat, they offer numerous health benefits and are a great source of slow-burning energy.

Snacking on nuts which are high-fat high protein is a bit like throwing a log on your energy fire that will burn slowly and provide a steady slow release of energy. Compare that to snacking on something carbohydrate-rich like crackers and it’s like throwing paper on your fire, it gives off a lot of energy when it starts burning but it doesn’t last long and you soon want more.

But are all nuts created equal? The truth is, some nuts are better for you than others. Read on to learn more about nuts, their health benefits, and how much nuts you should consume a day.

• Almonds
• Cashews
• Brazil nuts
• Pecans
• Hazelnuts
• Pistachios
• Macadamia nuts
• Walnuts
• Pine nuts

Note: Did you know that peanuts aren’t technically nuts? They’re actually legumes, just like beans and peas), but since they’re often referred to as nuts, we’ll be covering them in this article as well.

Nuts are seed kernels that are high in fat and calories. They have a hard shell that is usually inedible and needs to be removed. Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients. Here’s what an ounce of mixed nuts contains:

• Protein: 5 g
• Calories: 173
• Fat: 16 g
• Fiber: 3 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Selenium: 56% of the RDI
• Manganese: 26% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 16% of the RDI
• Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI
• Plus a ton of antioxidants

This nutrient profile makes nuts extremely beneficial. Some of the most important health benefits of nuts include:

• Reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
• Improved gut health
• Reduced risk of diabetes
• Reduced inflammation
• Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack

But does this apply to all nuts? The above-listed macros are for a serving of mixed nuts. The truth is, certain nuts are higher in certain nutrients than other nuts. For example, a single Brazil nut contains more than 100% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for selenium. The carbohydrates content is also very variable in different nuts – for instance, the content of digestible carbohydrates in macadamia nuts and hazelnuts is under 2g per serving, whereas in cashews, this content is 8g.

Let’s go through some of the most popular nuts and see which ones are the best to consume.

The Good and the Bad Sides of Nuts


1. Walnuts

One serving(a small handful or 28 g) of walnuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 182
• Fiber: 2 g
• Fat: 18 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Walnuts are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acid and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which are responsible for lowering the risk of heart disease by more than 50%. The omega-3 fatty acid is also known to raise the levels of serotonin in the brain, which gives walnuts potential for reducing depression symptoms.

2. Almonds

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of almonds contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 161
• Fiber: 3.5 g
• Fat: 14 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Magnesium: 19% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI

Studies have shown that consuming almonds on a regular basis can help decrease LDL cholesterol level, which is very harmful to cardiovascular health. These amazing nuts can also reduce blood pressure and facilitate weight loss when included in low-calorie diets. In addition, almonds can help regulate blood sugar levels and may help reduce inflammation in people with diabetes. Finally, almonds support the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

3. Pistachios

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of pistachios contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 156
• Fiber: 3 g
• Fat: 12.5 g
• Carbs: 8 g
• Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 3% of the RDI

Did you know that an ounce of these nuts contains the same amount of potassium you would get from one banana? Very rich in fiber and protein, pistachios can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also help manage oxidative stress and reduce blood sugar increase after a meal.

4. Cashews

One serving of cashews contains:

• Protein: 5 g
• Calories: 155
• Fiber: 1 g
• Fat: 12 g
• Carbs: 9 g
• Magnesium: 20% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Cashews have a lower fat content and higher carb and protein content than most other nuts. More than 60% of the fat they contain is derived from oleic acid, a  monounsaturated fat known to decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Even though cashews are lower in vitamin E than most nuts, they’re a great source of copper (which assists in energy production and provides flexibility in bones, joints, and blood vessels), magnesium (protects against high blood pressure and supports healthy bones and muscles), and zinc (helps maintain healthy vision and support the immune system).

5. Macadamia Nuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of macadamia nuts contains:

• Protein: 2 g
• Calories: 200
• Fiber: 2.5 g
• Fat: 21 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 9% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

My personal favourite with a delicious creamy taste. More than 75% of the fat found in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated fat, which is very beneficial for the heart. These nuts also contain specific kinds of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which are not readily available in many other foods. In addition, macadamia nuts contain just over 1 gram of natural sugar, and they are a low glycemic index food.

6. Hazelnuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of hazelnuts contains:

• Protein: 6 g
• Calories: 176
• Fiber: 3.5 g
• Fat: 9 g
• Carbs: 6 g
• Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

Monounsaturated fatty acids make up 50% – 70% of the kernel, which makes hazelnuts quite high in calories. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, you should probably avoid them. In addition, hazelnuts can be a common trigger in people suffering from nut allergies.

But this doesn’t mean that hazelnuts aren’t good for you. On the contrary, they have an impressive nutrient profile. Hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats which are also present in olive oil, as well as antioxidants which help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.

Finally, hazelnuts are very rich in fiber which can reduce the risk of colon cancer and suppress appetite.

7. Pecans

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of pecans contains:

• Protein: 3 g
• Calories: 193
• Fiber: 2.5 g
• Fat: 20 g
• Carbs: 4 g
• Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 2% of the RDI

Pecans are rich in antioxidants that help protect the heart. One of the antioxidants they contain – vitamin E – is known for preventing premature aging and cell damage. Pecans are also full of good fats that help lower cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of pecans is especially important for men because they contain beta-sitosterol which has been proven to maintain good prostate health.

8. Brazil Nuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of Brazil nuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 182
• Fiber: 2 g
• Fat: 18 g
• Carbs: 3 g
• Magnesium: 26% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI

Brazil nuts are most renowned for their high selenium content: 1 ounce of Brazil nuts will provide you with over 100% of the RDI for this nutrient, which makes them the richest known food source of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that maintains a healthy immune system and prevents damage to the cells and nerves.

Brazil nuts also help control cholesterol levels, lower oxidative stress, improve the blood vessels function, and reduce inflammation.

9. Peanuts

One serving (a small handful or 28 g) of peanuts contains:

• Protein: 4 g
• Calories: 176
• Fiber: 3 g
• Fat: 17 g
• Carbs: 5 g
• Magnesium: 11% of the RDI
• Vitamin E: 21% of the RDI

Peanuts are literally packed with nutrients: folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, choline, Vitamin E and B6, as well as minerals like phosphorus, zinc, potassium, iron, selenium, manganese, and copper. They also contain resveratrol, which is a potent antiaging molecule.

Peanuts are also rich in fiber and protein which are responsible for improving satiety and aiding weight loss.

However, peanuts also contain a number of antinutrients, i.e. substances that impair the absorption of nutrients and decrease nutritional value. The most noteworthy antinutrient found in peanuts is phytic acid (phytate) which reduces the availability of zinc and iron in peanuts, lowering their nutritional value. This is usually not a serious concern in people who consume meat on a regular basis, as well as in those eating a well-balanced diet. Nonetheless, it can be a problem in developing countries where the main food sources are legumes and grains. If you follow a paleo diet then peanuts are not recommended due to their an antinutrient content but generally they are fine for most people to consume in moderation.

Common Concerns Surrounding Nuts

The big question is: How much nuts should you consume daily?

Nuts make a great snack between meals and can be a good addition to salads or meals to provide extra protein. They are high in fat and calories though so it’s important to consider this when adding them to your diet and looking at your overall food consumption for the day.

Most experts recommend limiting your daily intake to 1.5 oz. or ¼ cup per day, a small handful is a good guide for most people. The fats found in nuts are healthy unsaturated fats which, along with fiber and protein which help appetite suppression.

As we discussed above each nut has its own unique profile of benefits so mixing nuts is a great way to make sure you’re getting a wide range of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Some of my favourite ways of incorporating nuts into my diet is adding chopped walnuts and pecans to my breakfast oats in the morning. A chopped apple dipped in almond butter is also a delicious snack between meals.

Finally, beware of nut allergies. Nuts are on the list of the 8 most common food allergens. A severe case of allergic nut reaction can result in an anaphylactic shock, which manifests with a sudden drop of blood pressure and unconsciousness. For this reason, avoid giving nuts to children younger than eight months.