Nuts are excellent healthy foods that are present both in our slimming diets and in others aimed at gaining muscle mass.
However, they still bring with them a lot of questions:
- What are the best nuts to eat?
- Are nuts fattening?
- How many calories do they have?
What are nuts?
Nuts have a dual definition, depending on whether we are referring to their more purely culinary or botanical criteria.
We can define nuts as:
- Fruits or seeds that often, but not always, have a high fat content.
A more precise definition is:
- Fruits composed of a hard shall that can’t be eaten and a seed that normally can be eaten.
Basically, nuts are fruits that have little water in their composition and, additionally, have a high energy concentration.
One of the most important properties of nuts is their high healthy fat content, many of them with omega-3 fatty acids in their composition. They also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, including potasium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin E and B.
Some nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, have a considerable calcium content.
The main recommendation when consuming nuts is to do so without salting or frying them.
It’s best to eat them naturally, maintaining their true nutritional content and ensuring they provide the most health benefits.
Salted nuts are harmful as the salt increases the need to drink, overloading the kidneys, and also increasing the chances of suffering hypertension.
Where do nuts come from?
Nuts come from trees, each of them from their respective origin.
For example: almonds come from the almond tree.
Hazelnuts from hazelnut trees (my region, Asturias, is full of wild hazelnut trees, for example):
Walnuts from walnut trees:
Types of nuts
The 10 best nuts for the diet are:
Most rich in folic acid, proteins and isoflavones.
It comes from a leguminous plant and its nutritional content also includes omega-6 fats and fibres.
They can be eaten raw or in such forma as peanut butter.
30 g of peanut butter from HSN spread on toast will provide approximately 10 g of protein.
Walnuts have the highest amount of omega 3 fatty acids.
Although they are fatty foods, most of them are polyunsaturated fats. They also contain vitamins, proteins and fibres.
Are rich in omega 3 and 9 fats, proteins, minerals, polyphenols and flavonoids.
They are generally most known for their particular taste and texture. They are ideal for a fitness diet as they provide a lot of energy.
Brazil nuts stand out for their high mineral content, mainly selenium, and are also rich in vitamin E.
They are highly energetic and nutritious fruits (ideal for sportsmen and women) and contain healthy fatty acids in large proportions.
They contain starch, sucrose, glucose and a high concentration of fat.
Another important property of almonds is that they are rich in vitamin E, calcium and phosphorus, which contribute to the normal maintenance of bones and teeth.
You can also drink almond milk or other derivatives.
Super rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and amino acid L-tryptophan.
Its oil content gives it a great richness in calories.
One of the most outstanding nutrients of the hazelnut is vitamin E.
It also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, magnesium fibre, calcium, zinc and iron, amongst others.
They have zero cholesterol and their vegetable protein is of excellent quality, with high levels of arginine.
These nuts are characterised principally by the fact that nearly half of their composition is carbohydrate.
On top, their fat content is quite similar to cereals, meaning much less than other nuts.
Among the most important nutrients it contains are potassium and folates. If we add to this a water content that accounts for almost half of its weight, we find that chestnuts are one of the nuts with the lowest calorie content.
Rich in polyunsaturated fats.
This nut is ideal for athletes who need an extra energy boost for their activities.
The protein content of pine nuts can be as much as 20% as of their weight.
They are known principally for being rich in B vitamins and for containing vitamin E.
They contain potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, an enormous amount of polyunsaturated fats and are also a recommended source of energy.
The benefits of nuts are often diminished or questioned because of their calorie content or proteins with incomplete amino acids.
What is true is that that each nuts contains particular properties which are often unknown and of great importance. Incorporating nuts into our nutritional plan will not only provide us with a great increase in energy, but also other natural benefits, several of which are indispensable for our body.
Nuts are high-calorie foods, making them a high energy option for athletes or workers in high activity jobs.
They are rich in polyunsturated fats, especially Omega-6.
Daily intake of 10g of linoleic acid contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Additionally, nuts are often rich in:
- Phosphorus: Which contributes to the maintenance of bones and normal teeth.
- Selenium: Which contributes to normal thyroid function.
- Folic Acid Which contributes to the reduction of fatigue and tiredness, and to the normal synthesis of amino acids.
Nuts are very caloric as their fat density is very high, and each gram of fat provides 9 kilocalories; the most energetic nutrient of all.
The calorie content of the 10 principal types of nuts are:
- Peanuts – 567kcal
- Walnuts – 654kcal
- Macadamia Nuts – 718 kcal
- Brazil Nuts – 659 kcal
- Almonds – 579 kcal
- Pumpkin Seeds – 559 kcal
- Hazelnuts – 629 kcal
- Chestnuts – 363 kcal
- Sesame Seeds – 573 kcal
- Pine Nuts – 673 kcal
Nuts are sources of pant protein, incomplete due to their low L-Lysine content, the limiting amino acid.
The combination of nuts and legumes, such as lentils, complement their proteins and turn it into an excellent source of complete vegetable proteins, of high biological value.
The protein content of the 10 principal nuts are:
- Peanuts – 26.17g
- Walnuts – 15.23g
- Macadamia Nuts – 7.91g
- Brazil Nuts – 14.32g
- Almonds – 21.15g
- Pumpkin Seeds – 19.4g
- Hazelnuts – 13.7g
- Chestnuts – 6.82g
- Sesame Seeds – 17.73g
- Pine Nuts – 11.57g
Are nuts fattening?
Their high nutrient content could be associated, a priori, with their consumption being related to a habit that is conducive to obesity.
In fact, even without being the best indicator of health, cross-sectional studies have shown an inverse association between nut consumption and BMI, also with an improved lipid profile.
Changes in the lipid profile associated with a consumption of 10, 12.2 and 20% of the daily caloric intake from nuts. TC: Total cholesterol; LDL-c: Low density cholesterol; LDL-c/HDL-c: Ratio between low and high density cholesterol; TG: Triglycerides.
In an important study of more than 100,000 people over at least 12 years of follow-up, it was found that increasing the intake of a daily portion of nuts was associated with a reduction in body weight, as shown in the graph below, while other foods such as crisps, sweetened drinks and processed red meat were associated with increased body weight.
Changes in body weight after increasing a daily portion of different foods. Nuts shown in the graph.
The proposed mechanisms by which nuts do not cause weight gain, despite being high in calories, are summarised in the following diagram:
Proposed mechanisms by which nuts can reduce weight gain despite their calories.
What are the healthiest nuts?
Any kind of nut is great in a balanced and healthy diet.
The calories content of the 10 principal types of nut are:
- Sesame Seeds.
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts.
- Pine Nuts
- Brazil Nuts.
Remember that no good or bad foods, only abuse of quantity and frequency of their consumption!
- Jackson, C. L., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 100 Suppl 1(1), 408S–11S.
- Discover the best peanut butter recipes by clicking here.
- Everything you need to know about almond flour. Visit this link.
- Cashew nut recipes – don’t miss out! Direct link.