Health Nuts: Eating Nuts May Be Healthful
You are what you eat. You may think you are a health nut—you eat whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, if you avoid nuts because they are high in fat, you may not be as healthy as you can be. Nuts have traditionally received a bad reputation for their high-fat and high-calorie content, especially from people watching their weight. Yet, there are many reasons to include nuts in your diet—one of which is the very fat that made you avoid them!
Nuts contain mostly “good,” unsaturated fat—the type that is believed to help improve heart health. Most Americans consume too much “bad,” saturated fat, which is found mostly in meats and high-fat dairy products. Research has shown that reducing saturated fat and increasing unsaturated fat can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Nuts contain both types of unsaturated fat and only small amounts of saturated fat, in varying amounts depending on the type of nut. Some research suggests that one type of polyunsaturated fat, called omega-3 fatty acids, may offer benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease. Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids.
This table shows the calories, protein, and fat in a 1-ounce serving (28 grams) of nuts.
Source: Nut Health
As the above table shows, nuts are a great source of protein. Nuts are also rich in one amino acid (a building-block of protein) called arginine, which may be linked to heart health benefits.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is important for normal development of nerves and cells in the lungs and blood. Nuts like peanuts and almonds can help you to reach your dietary requirement of vitamin E.
Other Nutrients in Nuts
Nuts contain many other nutrients, such as:
- Calcium—For example, one cup (95 grams) of almonds has 251 milligrams of calcium.
- Selenium—Brazil nuts have an especially high amount of the mineral selenium, which acts as an antioxidant.
- Folate—Nuts like walnuts have this B vitamin, which plays a role in reducing the risk of neural tube birth defects in babies.
- Plant sterols—Plant sterols, found in peanuts, may help to reduce cholesterol levels.
Last reviewedJune 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.