Which Macronutrients Do Nuts Contain?

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Small bowl of mixed nuts.
Small bowl of mixed nuts. (Image: olgakr/iStock/Getty Images)

Nuts are low in saturated fat and supply a wealth of key nutrients including each of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. Because these three macronutrients are essential for survival, they're a crucial part of your daily diet. Eating nuts is a nutritious way to ensure that you're getting plenty of each one.

Carbohydrates in Nuts

All nuts contain carbohydrates, which are a key energy source. Carbohydrates also keep your central nervous system, brain, heart, kidneys and muscles working properly. They contain a good dose of dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that promotes healthy digestion and cuts the risk of certain health problems such as heart disease. Most nuts are also low in total carbs, making them a nutritious part of a weight-loss diet. Almonds, for example, contain 6 grams of carbs, including 3 grams of fiber toward the 25 grams women need each day and the 38 grams men need. Macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are additional examples of nuts high in fiber.

Fat in Nuts

Though nuts are high in fat, most of it is unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats promote heart health by helping to lower cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Fats are also important because they help your body absorb other nutrients and also act as a fuel source. Walnuts, for example, contain 18.5 grams of fat per ounce, but only 1.7 grams of it is saturated. An ounce of pine nuts contains 19.4 grams of fat, but only 1.4 grams of that is saturated. Choosing nuts as a fat source is one way to get the beneficial fats necessary for good health without consuming too much saturated fat.

Protein in Nuts

Protein is essential because it promotes healthy growth and development and aids in tissue repair, hormone secretion and immune system function. It also serves as a source of energy. Women need 46 grams and men 56 grams of protein each day. An ounce of Brazil nuts delivers 4 grams of protein; the same amount of almonds supplies 6 grams of protein. Pine nuts contain 7 grams of protein per ounce, and walnuts, pistachios and cashews contain small amounts of protein as well.

Nuts in Your Diet

Opt for low-salt or unsalted nuts because too much sodium can raise your blood pressure, leaving you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Flavored nuts can be high in sugar. Your best bets are raw and roasted nuts. Because nuts are so calorie-dense, stick to a 1-ounce serving. Add chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, to a spinach salad, or roll soft cheese, such as goat, in chopped nuts and serve it with whole-grain crackers for a nutritious appetizer or snack. Chopped nuts add flavor and nutrition to seafood salad, pasta salad and baked goods as well, notes Avner Laskin, author of "Nuts: More Than 75 Delicious and Healthy Recipes."

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