If you enjoy eating nuts but are not sure how healthy they are for you, here is some good news: Nut consumption may actually prolong your life, according to a review in a November 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors of the review note that eating nuts reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, diverticulitis, gallstones and even some cancers. Although all nuts have their perks, some are more beneficial to your health than others. When choosing nuts, select raw or dry-roasted, unsalted varieties. Sweetened or salted nuts add unwanted calories and sodium to your diet and detract from nuts' health benefits.
Walnuts are one of the best nuts for health benefits. A 1-ounce serving, which is approximately a handful or 14 nut halves, contains 185 calories and 18 grams of fat -- primarily polyunsaturated fat. These polyunsaturated fats are found to help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol, which reduces your risk of heart disease, according to a review in a 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Walnuts' health benefits don't stop there. A report in a 2014 issue of the journal notes that walnuts also help delay and prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes and obesity. A review of studies conducted on mice in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Nutrition states that walnut consumption may help prevent breast, colon, prostate and renal cancers.
A 1-ounce serving of pistachios delivers 161 calories as well as protein, fiber and several vitamins and minerals. It also 12 grams of fat, almost all the healthy mono- and polyunsaturated kinds. The beneficial fats and nutrients in pistachios help fight heart disease, high blood sugar and inflammation, according to a review in the April 2012 issue of Nutrition Reviews. The review also notes that pistachios may help fight obesity and weight gain, as adding them to your diet helps you feel fuller and more satisfied.
Almonds have a reputation as a healthy nut, and for good reason. Along with 170 calories, a 1-ounce serving contains fiber, protein and healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds also have a high vitamin and mineral content, and they deliver nearly 7 milligrams of vitamin E, which is almost half the recommended intake of 15 milligrams for adults. Vitamin E helps protect your body from cellular damage and boosts your immune system. A trial described in the April 2011 issue of Metabolism shows that eating almonds helps regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reduces your risk of heart disease.
All nuts can be beneficial to your health as long as they are not coated in sugars, loaded with salt or roasted in oils. In terms of nutrition content, pecans and macadamia nuts are higher in fat and calorie content. Macadamia nuts have over 200 calories in just 10 to 12 nuts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database. Pecans are also high in calorie content and lower in protein and valuable nutrients than other nuts. A report from Harvard Medical School concludes that when compared to the cholesterol-lowering abilities of other nuts, pecans and macadamia nuts do not fare as well.
- New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Nut Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of Walnut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Long-Term Associations of Nut Consumption With Body Weight and Obesity
- Journal of Nutrition: Walnuts Have Potential for Cancer Treatment and Prevention in Mice
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Pistachio Nuts, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- Nutrition Reviews: Pistachio Nuts -- Composition and Potential Health Benefits
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- MedlinePlus.com: Vitamin E
- Metabolism: Almond Consumption Improved Glycemic Control and Lipid Profiles in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus