Raw nuts are rich sources of protein and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are essential for good health and may help lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. According to the Kentucky University College of Agriculture, eating nuts in their raw state is preferable to eating roasted or toasted nuts, as raw nuts have more nutrients than cooked.
Nuts have many health benefits and are a source of protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. Use nuts in place of saturated fat sources like meats and cheeses for greatest health benefit. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration made a health claim that eating 1.5 oz. of almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts may reduce risk for heart disease when incorporated in a low saturated fat and cholesterol diet.
Walnuts have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid compared to other nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids help with decreasing inflammation in the body and improving heart health. One oz. of walnuts, which is about 14 walnut halves, gives the recommended amount for daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids. One oz. of walnuts provide about 190 calories and 4 g of protein.
A 2010 study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that walnut consumption of 12 percent of total calories per day more than six months significantly improved total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol.
Among the nut family, almonds are one of the healthiest choices to add to your diet. AskDrSears.com notes that almonds have 14 g of fat per 1-oz. serving, but that 90 percent of that is in the form of healthy unsaturated fat. Almonds contain about 166 calories per serving, as well as 5 g of protein and 4 g of fiber. Eating almonds will also supply several other important nutrients, including zinc, iron and vitamin E. Almonds also provide L-arginine, which may improve the flexibility of your arteries and prevent blood clots.
An ounce of almonds provides 35 percent of vitamin E, according to University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County. An ounce of almonds is about 20 almonds and provides 160 calories and 6 g of protein. Almonds may play a significant role in preventing insulin resistance and heart health, as shown in a 2008 study from Metabolism Journal. Study participants who supplemented their diet with almonds for one month had significant improvement in insulin secretion. Researchers also concluded that this may also provide reason long-term heart health associations with nuts.
Pecans provide a high amount of monounsaturated fat per ounce serving. It is the third highest in monounsaturated fats with about 12 g per ounce. An ounce of pecans also provides about 200 calories, 3 g of protein and more than 19 vitamins and minerals. The National Pecan Shellers Association cites a 2003 study that showed pecans may aid in weight loss and maintenance when part of a low-fat diet.
Pistachios are smaller than most nuts, and there are about 45 pistachios in an ounce serving. An ounce of pistachios provides about 160 calories and 6 g of protein. Pistachios are one of the highest nuts in antioxidant amount, and they are especially rich in fiber with 3 g of fiber per ounce serving. They are also a rich source for minerals manganese and copper.
Vitamin E is present in all nuts, but hazelnuts supply about 25 percent of your daily needs, making them one of the heart-healthiest nuts to add to your diet, notes AskDrSears.com. Vitamin E is essential for preventing the development of arterial plaque, which can increase your risk of suffering from a heart attack or developing coronary artery disease. Hazelnuts contain 178 calories in a 1-oz. serving, and they provide about 15 g of healthy unsaturated fats. You can eat them plain or add them to a trail mix.
Peanuts are one of the most common nuts available, and they are also one of the most nutritious. MayoClinic.com notes that a 1-oz. serving of peanuts contains 166 calories and only 2 g of saturated fat. The remaining 12 g of fat are unsaturated. Whole peanuts are a good source of protein and fiber, but one of the most common ways to eat peanuts is peanut butter. Peanut butter is considered a nutrient-dense food that provides fuel, as well as niacin, calcium, iron and zinc. Add peanuts to trail mix or eat an apple with 2 tbsp. of peanut butter to get these benefits.
The small crunchy nuts with buttery flavor called macadamias are heart-healthy and can be especially beneficial for your cholesterol levels. They also offer B vitamins and minerals such as copper. As long as you consume them in moderation, macadamia nuts may be a good addition to your daily diet.
Eating 1 oz. of macadamia nuts will provide 0.05 g of omega-3 fatty acids, along with significant amounts of the minerals manganese, copper and magnesium. Clinical research studies indicate that regularly consuming macadamia nuts reduces both total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, levels, according to Natural News. They’re a good source of dietary fiber, and though macadamia nuts are high in calories — 200 per oz. — they have no cholesterol and very low carbohydrates, about 4 g.
Butternuts are an endangered member of the walnut family. One ounce of butternuts contains 2.4 g of omega-3. Butternuts, also known as white walnuts, are hard to find and can be expensive. Butternut canker, a fungal disease found throughout the tree’s North American range, has wiped out many native stands of butternut trees in the United States, notes Canada’s Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. If you can find them and are willing to pay, butternuts are an excellent source of ALA omega-3.
Cashews are kidney-shaped nuts that have a creamy texture and are often added to salads, stir-fry meals and desserts. Cashews come from the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, native to Brazil. Cashews are a good source of copper, magnesium, tryptophan and phosphorus. A 1/4-cup serving provides 196 calories. Cashews have a lower fat content relative to other nuts, and 75 percent of the fat is monounsaturated fat, primarily oleic acid, which is the healthy fat that is found in olive oil and reduces risk of heart disease.
Brazil nuts are widely recognized for containing high amounts of selenium. Selenium is considered to be part of the group of heart healthy compounds called antioxidants. It works with proteins in the body to make antioxidant enzymes. Antioxidants are known for their ability to prevent cellular damage. These helpful compounds may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Because Brazil nuts are a plant-based food, they do not contain any cholesterol. They contain 20 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol, but unsaturated fat has a cholesterol-lowering effect, and there is more unsaturated fat than saturated fat in a Brazil nut. Brazil nuts may also make your immune system stronger, and they can help to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Chestnuts may not be as common as other types of nut, but still provide many health benefits. They are slightly lower in calories and fat than other nuts, and are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium.
NUTRITION OF RAW NUTS
Raw nuts are a good source of plant protein. According to MayoClinic,com, protein is important in building and repairing muscle tissues and other cells in the body. The Vegetarian Society states that almonds are a good source of protein, providing 16.9 g of protein in a 100 g serving. Brazil nuts are also a good source, with 12 g of protein in 100 g. Peanuts are an excellent source of protein compared to other nuts, with 24.3 g of protein per 100 g.
Vitamin E is important in maintaining a healthy immune system, and it also plays a role in cell repair and division. According to MayoClinic.com, vitamin E may play a role in preventing development of plaques in the arteries that could narrow them. The Vegetarian Society states that almonds are a very good source of vitamin E, with 20 mg per 30 g serving. For this reason, adding slivered almonds to a bowl of oatmeal or eating them raw as a snack can be a good addition to your daily diet. Hazelnuts offer 4.3 mg of vitamin E per 1-tbsp. serving.
Raw nuts generally contain a high amount of fat. However, this fat content is primarily of the unsaturated type. According to the American Heart Association, unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats, which may raise cholesterol levels in the body. The American Heart Association recommends keeping fat intake to between 25 and 35 percent of total daily calories. It is best to eat nuts in moderation so that you don’t exceed this recommended intake.
According to the MayoClinic.com, nuts may be beneficial for a healthy heart because they contain fiber. Fiber plays an important role in reducing cholesterol and increasing your satiation, which can prevent overeating. A heart heatlhy diet includes fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a variety of nuts and seeds.
According to MayoClinic.com, nuts are important in a heart-healthy diet because they contain an abundance of L-arginine. L-arginine is a substance that may make your artery walls more flexible and less prone to blood clots. This can help to prevent blockages to blood flow in the arteries. According to MayoClinic.com, the best nut sources of L-arginine include walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts and almonds. Adding a serving of these nuts to your daily diet may help to improve the health of your artery walls.
All nuts come from plants, so they do not contain any cholesterol. That means you can enjoy cashews, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, pistachio nuts, almonds and other nuts without worrying about your cholesterol intake. However, you may need to limit your consumption of nuts for other reasons.
Although they contain no cholesterol and provide various vitamins and nutrients, you may need to limit your consumption of nuts because many are high in fat and calories. For example, 1/4 cup of walnuts has about 164 calories and 147 of those are fat calories, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods, a website of the George Mateljan Foundation. One-fourth cup of almonds contains 206 calories, 164 of which are fat calories.
Raw, unsalted tree nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts are full of fiber, protein, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts have the ability to reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health and lower cholesterol. The Food and Drug Administration suggests that if you eat approximately 1.5 oz. of nuts per day, you can naturally lower your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart attacks and blood clots.