There are many health benefits to eating nuts, and they should be part of your daily diet due to the many beneficial nutrients they contain. Nuts are important for beautiful hair, nails and skin, strong bones, keeping your heart healthy (lowering cholesterol), and assisting with metabolic syndrome (1), cancer prevention (2, 3), weight control (4) and keeping in good overall health (5).
All nuts contain high amounts of fats, which are usually monounsaturated fat (generally oleic and palmitoleic acids), a preferred type of fat in the diet. These monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol and increase good cholesterol (4). Nuts are also rich in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 oils) such as linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic, eicosapentanoic and docoshexaenoic acids which are good for reducing inflammation, coronary artery diseases, and some cancers (1 – 3). Due to the high fat density in nuts, they are also high in calories, which can be an issue if you need to monitor your energy intake. Conversely, if you need to increase your energy intake then nuts are a great way to provide extra calories in a small volume.
Nuts are full of polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, resveratrol, lutein and crytoxanthin. The polyphenol antioxidants bind to lipoproteins and have been shown to inhibit oxidative processes that lead to atherosclerosis (5). In human supplementation studies, nuts have been shown to improve the lipid profile, increase circulatory endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain (5).
Your choice of nut can depend on the flavour profile you like, and perhaps the specific health benefits you are looking for. In almonds for example, there are certain compounds which help produce dopamine, which is a key hormone in brain development, memory and enhancing your mood (5). Brazil nuts (which are actually seeds, not nuts) are particularly high in selenium, an important anti-cancer nutrient linked to good prostate health. Brazil nuts are also high in magnesium and zinc which are good for the nervous and muscular systems, and help keep our immune system functioning well (5).
The nutritional profile for 100 g of typical nuts is around 630 kcals, made up of 29% carbs (12% fibre), 15% protein and 60% fat. Therefore they are an energy-dense, nutritious snack and a good source of protein and fibre which will help you feel satisfied or full.
Almond 100g – 579 kcals, 21 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein and 49 g fat, 10 g fibre
Brazil nuts 100 g – 659 kcals, 12 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein and 67 g fats, 7 g fibre
Coconut 100 g – 666 kcals, 13 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein, 66 g fat, 6 g fibre
Macadamia nuts 100 g – 720 kcals, 14 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 76 g fat, 9 g fibre
(Not nuts but good for comparison) Flaxseed/ Linseed 100 g – 534 kcals, 29 g carbohydrate, 18 g protein, 42 g fat, 27 g fibre
The Australian nut industry council recommends at least 30 grams most days of the week, as this can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes (1-5).
I love nuts, they are a nutritious healthy snack, and I do eat them every day as they are portable, safe (unless you are allergic), there is a low risk of food poisoning, require little or no preparation, and they have a long shelf life.
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1. Ros, E. (2010). Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2(7), 652-682.
2. Yang, J. (2009). Brazil nuts and associated health benefits: A review. LWT-Food Science and Technology, 42(10), 1573-1580.
3. Vinson, J. A., & Cai, Y. (2012). Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Food & function, 3(2), 134-140.
4. Vadivel, V., Kunyanga, C. N., & Biesalski, H. K. (2012). Health benefits of nut consumption with special reference to body weight control. Nutrition, 28(11), 1089-1097.
5. Alasalvar, C., & Shahidi, F. (Eds.). (2008). Tree nuts: composition, phytochemicals, and health effects. CRC Press.