12 Nuts and Seeds You Should Add To Your Diet

How often do you eat nuts and seeds?

In my opinion nuts and seeds are the ultimate “superfoods!” They’re such a top source of energy, protein, fat, and nutrients.

But, if you’re worried about the fat content – with the exception of coconut and pine nuts – it’s mostly unsaturated fat, so no need to avoid them, just watch your portion size.

Okay…here are some juicy facts and figures for you:

1. Almonds

  • almondsAre a good source of protein, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iron, as well as some B vitamins
  • They contain the most calcium of all the nuts
  • Look out for almond flour, almond nut milk, and almond nut butter
  • 1 ounce (24 kernels) of almonds contains around 163 calories

Image: Sateda

2. Hazelnuts

  • hazelnutAre an excellent source of protein, fibre and magnesium
  • They contain iron, zinc, and lots of vitamin E
  • They are lower in fat than most other nuts
  • Look out for hazelnut oil and hazelnut butter
  • One ounce of hazelnuts contains 178 calories

Image: Chestnutt

3. Pecan nuts

  • pecansAre a good source of protein, and they are high in unsaturated fats
  • They contain a reasonable amount of fibre, and modest amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc
  • 1 ounce (20 halves) of pecan nuts contains 196 calories

Image: Old Shoe Women

4. Brazil nuts

brazil-nut

  • Are one of the richest sources of the essential mineral selenium
  • They also contain protein, iron, calcium and zinc
  • They are high in fat which causes them to go rancid quickly
  • 1 ounce of Brazil nuts contains 186 calories

Image: Scoobymoo

5. Pine nuts

  • pine-nutsAre an excellent source of protein, although quite high in fat
  • They supply little fibre, but contain important amounts of magnesium, iron and zinc, and lots of vitamin E and potassium
  • One ounce of pine nuts contains 191 calories

Image: Paul Goyette

6. Pistachio nuts

  • pistachiosAre a good source of protein, and contain valuable amounts of fibre, with some iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin A
  • They also contain significant amounts of vitamin E and potassium
  • Unfortunately, they are almost impossible to buy unsalted, so most contain far too much sodium
  • One ounce of pistachios contains 161 calories

Image: Lusi

7. Peanuts

  • peanutsAre actually a pulse and belong in the legume family along with peas, beans and lentils
  • They are high in protein and comparatively low in fat
  • They are also a good source of fibre, magnesium, iron and zinc, and an excellent source of vitamin D
  • Try to buy the unsalted varieties where possible, and look out for peanut butter which doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils
  • One ounce of peanuts contains 161 calories

Image: Shanii

8. Walnuts

  • WalnutAre low in saturated fat, and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
  • They provide protein, iron, zinc, vitamin E and folate
  • One ounce of walnuts contains 185 calories

Image: Egahen

9. Cashew nuts

  • cashewAre a good source of potassium, protein, and folate
  • They also provide vitamin A and iron
  • One ounce of cashew nuts contains 157 calories

Image: Maguegtz

10. Pumpkin seeds

  • pumpkinAre lower in fat than most other nuts and seeds
  • They are a good source of fibre, magnesium and potassium, and an excellent source of protein, iron, phosphorus and zinc
  • Eat them in both sweet or savory dishes, such as toasted and sprinkled over a fresh salad
  • One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 153 calories

Image: Stockdot

11. Sesame seeds

  • sesameAre an exceptional source of calcium, and a very good source of protein and magnesium
  • They are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin and folate. They also contain iron and zinc
  • Look out for sesame seed paste (Tahiti), or halva – a sweet made from sesame seeds and often found in health food shops
  • One ounce of sesame seeds contains 177 calories

Image: tstadler

12. Sunflower seeds

  • sunflower-seedsThey are a good source of potassium and phosphorous
  • They also contain protein, B vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium
  • And they are one of the best sources of vitamin E
  •  They can be added to bread and cake mixes, or sprinkled over salads and breakfast cereals
  • 1 ounce of sunflower seeds contains 165 calories

Image: Noonedj

How to eat more nuts and seeds

  1. Eat nuts and seeds as your daily mid-afternoon snack
  2. Grind up nuts or seeds and add to smoothies or fruit juice
  3. Go for nut butter on toast, or serve with fresh veggie crudites
  4. Add seeds to homemade bread, cake and cookie recipes
  5. Toss a handful of nuts or seeds over oatmeal, pasta dishes, salads, or curries

What are your tips for eating more nuts and seeds?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jolyon Burnett July 27, 2009 at 8:18 am

Think of the creamy rich taste of a macadamia nut. Consider its crunch. Many believe the macadamia to be the world’s finest nut. This may all sound really dreamy, but macadamias are full of fat, so they’re probably not good for you, right? Well, recent studies are finding that a diet rich in macadamia nuts reduces total cholesterol, including LDL-cholesterol, and favorably modulates risk factors for coronary disease in patients with high cholesterol levels.

In a study from the April, 2008 Journal of Nutrition, researchers note that epidemiologic studies and clinical trials have demonstrated that the unique fatty acid profile of nuts beneficially affects serum lipids and lipoproteins, reducing cardiovascular disease risk. Nuts are low in saturated fatty acids and high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids.

In a randomized controlled feeding study over five week periods, researchers compared the results on the lipid/lipoprotein profile of a macadamia nut-rich diet vs. an average American diet on male and female subjects with mildly elevated cholesterol levels. They found that serum concentrations of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the macadamia group were significantly lower than the levels of the American diet group. The serum non-HDL cholesterol concentration and the ratios of total cholesterol to HDL and LDL were reduced in those on the macadamia diet compared with the American diet. There was no change in serum triglyceride concentration. These results indicate a lowering of overall cardiovascular disease risk.

In a study reported in the June, 2007 journal Lipids researchers note that in addition to being rich sources of oleic and palmitoleic acids, macadamia nuts contain polyphenol compounds that lead them to conclude that consumption of macadamias can be expected to confer health benefits. Their study was conducted to examine the effects of macadamia consumption on biomarkers of oxidative stress, coagulation and inflammation in males with high cholesterol levels. Seventeen such males were given macadamia nuts equivalent to 15% of energy intake for a period of 4 weeks.

As expected by the researchers, monounsaturated fatty acids were elevated in the plasma lipids of all study participants following the period of consumption of macadamias. Plasma markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were significantly lower. This study demonstrated for the first time that short-term macadamia nut consumption favorably modifies the biomarkers of oxidative stress, thrombosis and inflammation, the risk factors for coronary artery disease, despite an increase in dietary fat intake.

Another dietary trial in Hawaii also demonstrated that macadamia nut consumption lowered risk indicators for heart disease. And a study in at the University of Newcastle, involving subjects with elevated cholesterol levels, found that participants who ate macadamia nuts showed significant reduction in blood serum cholesterol, total blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and blood clots.

A study in Japan involving young women as subjects found that after only three weeks on a diet high in macadamia nuts, the subjects revealed a significant reduction in both serum and LDL cholesterol levels. These benefits were produced with as little as a 20 gram consumption of macadamia nuts per day.

Macadamia nuts also contain a significant level of protein, comprising essential and non-essential amino acids. They are a good source of minerals so essential to a healthy diet, and so needed to maintain ideal weight. These include per 100 grams: 410 mg potassium, 200 mg phosphorus, 120 mg magnesium, and 64 mg calcium. Selenium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc are present in small amounts. Macadamias contain significant amounts of a broad range of vitamins including Vitamin E as tocopherols and tocotrienols, B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B2 (riboflavin), niacin and folate. They also contain phytosterols.

Macadamias improve the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. They also have a high dietary fiber content of approximately 7%. Dietary fiber is the term for carbohydrates that are resistant to enzyme digestion in the stomach. These consist of complex soluble carbohydrates and soluble fiber such as, hemicellulose, amylopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose. Dietary fiber promotes the feeling of dietary satisfaction, slows digestion, promotes desirable intestinal bacteria, and keeps bowels healthy. It plays a role in reduction of cancer and diabetes risk.

Macadamias also contain the phytonutrient classes of phenolic compounds: flavonoids, phytoestrogens, phytic acid, tannins which convert to ellagic acid in the body, saponins, and lignans.

And we saved the best news for last. Studies of tree nut eaters, a category that includes macadamias, usually weigh less than control subjects when studied.

Reply

Melanie July 28, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Hi Jolyon,
Thanks for filling in the details about macadamias…I did leave them off my list, didn’t I??

Reply

Miri July 29, 2009 at 7:50 am

I don’t eat meat (just fish) so nuts are super important in my diet, for protein, fiber, and all those healthy monounsaturated oils. And almonds are my favorite!

Reply

Melanie July 29, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Hi Miri,
Totally agree! Have you tried almond nut butter?

Reply

Ruth August 6, 2009 at 1:07 am

Oh I love nuts, especially cashew nuts and macadamia nuts.

Linseeds (not on your list) have important omega fatty acids, I think their oil is comparable to fish oils and recommended as a vegetarian alternative.
Linseeds are an excellent source of fibre too. They are best if consumed ground up, so the body can absorb all the goodness.
I add them to my morning porridge.

Reply

Dr. J. Kyle Howard November 14, 2009 at 10:08 pm

I am switching from peanuts (which isn’t a nut of course) and was looking for a good source of nutrients (I am a muncher). This information is very helpful in my search. I think, I’ll just get a variety and cover my bases. Thanks
.-= Dr. J. Kyle Howard´s last blog ..Nov 2, The Key to Success =-.

Reply

Barry April 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I add some nuts and sunflower seeds to low-fat plain yogurt along with fruit for breakfast. I think it’s a good way to start the day.

Reply

Melanie May 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Barry,
That’s an excellent breakfast idea. Very well balanced, and I’m sure you feel much fuller than if you just ate a sugary breakfast cereal.

Reply

Geoff@Vegetable Seeds September 29, 2010 at 10:42 am

Great article Melanie, sure would be interesting to see how someone could regularly include all those nuts and seeds into their diet but they are certainly good for you.

I guess there is a lot of opportunity if you have a sweet tooth and eat many desserts as these can be topped with almonds etc.

Good idea Barry, will give that a go myself too.

Nuttastic!

Reply

Jackie-O May 18, 2011 at 7:18 am

I always add Flaxseed to my morning oatmeal, smoothies, or protein pancakes. =)

Reply

JKMichelson August 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I make my own almond milk and have it with quinoa and pure maple syrup for breakfast

Reply

Melanie August 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Wow really JK? Do you have a recipe you can share for making the almond milk?

Reply

Nut & Seed Bars August 16, 2011 at 9:08 am

Try mixing all your favorite nuts and seeds (Sesame seed, slivered almonds, cashew halves, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, ect.) into freshly ground almond nut butter. Then toss in some of your favorite dried fruits (dried blueberries, dried & chopped banana, cherries and so on), mix thoroughly!! Then spread your concoction out onto a lightly oiled (grape seed, hemp seed oil, or Udo’s oil) shallow baking pan. Cover and toss the whole thing in the fridge for a little while to harden. When hardened, cut your self some seed & nut bars!! Make’s an awesome energy producing snack! Due to the thickness of the almond or peanut butter, it takes a long time to chew through, you’ll want some water to help wash it down! A general rule is to have equal parts of each ingredient, with perhaps either a little more or a little less of the nut butter to change the density of the bar. You can also add a tiny bit of agave syrup, maple syrup or honey if you have a sweet tooth. You’ll want to store them refrigerated so that they’ll hold up their shape. They’re also great to share with co-workers, maybe you’ll turn someone on to seeds & nuts!! Cheers!

Reply

Melanie August 18, 2011 at 8:51 am

WOW, that sounds absolutely amazing. I am definitely trying this. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll let you know how I get on :-)

Reply

Bill Slack October 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Good morning. I am trying to find out if anybody eats maple key seeds? There seems to be an abundence of them this year; Looks like an oportunity to try something new.

Reply

Melanie October 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Hi Bill,
I have not heard of them. Can you share any further info on them?

Reply

Edward K. July 3, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Question about seeds….whole or ground for best absorption, digestion and nutrition? Mostly concerned with Sesame seeds, Poppy seeds, Chia seeds, Pumpkin seeds and Sunflower seeds, but feel free to include more types. :)
Right now, I’m eating all the above seeds whole, but don’t want to be wasting my money if my body isn’t breaking them down. eck0731 at yahoo

Reply

Beatriz July 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hi Melanie! What do you think about roasted soya beans?

Reply

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