Nuts are not enough to be a diet in themselves, but should form part of a healthy and well balanced diet. Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and Nuts are 10-25% protein, high in both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and a good source of dietary fibre. Nuts are also free of cholesterol, like other plant foods. However, as because all nuts are high in fat, they should be eaten in moderation. Also it is best to avoid the salted varieties.
So, which are the best nuts to eat?
Almonds: Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat, and are also a good source of protein, vitamins B2 and E, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Brazil nuts: Rich in protein, iron, calcium, and zinc, Brazil nuts also contain the highest natural source of selenium – one nut exceeds the recommended daily amount (RDA). Warning: Do not eat too many Brazil Nuts.
Cashews: High in fat (but lower than almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts), these contain essential fatty acids, fibre, protein, carbohydrate, B vitamins, and iron and zinc.
Chestnuts: Containing less fat than most other nuts, chestnuts do have microminerals and potassium, but are not a good source of protein.
Hazelnuts: Containing fibre, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E, these are a good source of protein.
Peanuts: Technically a legume (i.e. more like a hard pea than a nut, thus the name “pea nut”), these contain more protein than most nuts (20-30%), and good amounts of fibre, folate, and niacin.
Pecan nuts: These contain vitamins A and B1, fibre, and iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Pine nuts: The small edible seeds of pine trees, pine nuts are high in protein, calcium, and magnesium.
Pistachios: A very rich source of potassium, these contain calcium, magnesium, iron, fibre, and protein as well as vitamin A and folate.
Walnuts: Rich in vitamins, folate, plus magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc, these are als antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
So, for a healthy diet, eating a selection of the above nuts is really a good idea, as they help fill in the nutrient and mineral gaps that may have been missed by the rest of your diet. If you are exercising a lot and building muscle, then the higher protein varieties are recommended too. Also, the fat content of nuts provides both a great source of energy, and is also essential for good health. Unlike saturated fat found in meat, these fats are good for the heart and also help tp regulate cholesterol. Some nuts do contain saturate fats