Nuts are full of healthy fats, fiber, protein and key vitamins and minerals. Find out which nuts are the healthiest options—and why you should be snacking on them regularly.

Lauren Wicks
Updated November 18, 2019

Nuts are the perfect healthy snack, as they are not only convenient and portable, they are a great source of healthy fats, plant protein, fiber and some essential vitamins and minerals. Whether you're following a low-carb, paleo, vegan, Mediterranean or any other kind of diet plan, nuts fit into pretty much any healthy eating pattern. Find out our top picks for the healthiest nuts to eat and why they're so good for you.

Related: Health Benefits of Nuts

Almonds

Almonds have become the nut of choice over the last few years, as almond butter and milk have both become staples in many of our households. Luckily, almonds are a healthy choice for a few reasons. Besides being an excellent source of fiber and a good source of protein, almonds also offer us a hefty dose of both vitamin E and magnesium.

Vitamin E works double-duty as an antioxidant and plays a huge role in keeping your skin glowing and protected from sun damage. Almonds give you nearly half of your daily recommendation in just one ounce.

Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of reactions throughout our bodies—from boosting our our heart and bone health to helping us manage stress and achieve high-quality sleep at night. An ounce of almonds offers 18% of your daily magnesium needs. Try them in our fan-favorite Almond-Honey Power Bars for the ultimate afternoon snack.

Related: This Is How Nutritionists Snack at Work

Brazil Nuts

Did you know just one Brazil nut offers 100% of your daily recommendation for selenium? This mineral plays a pretty important role in our bodies, helping with reproduction, regulating our thyroid hormones and protecting us from inflammation and infection.

As if reducing inflammation and assisting in thyroid regulation wasn't enough to get you snacking on Brazil nuts, research has linked them to boosting your mental health. Studies have shown that eating Brazil nuts could help fight both depression and neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, thanks to their high presence of selenium. Try adding a Brazil nut into your daily smoothie or as a riff on our Fruit & Nuts Snack Mix to get an instant boost.

Cashews

When you think of flu- and cold-fighting foods, chicken soup and citrus may come to mind, but what about cashews? This popular tree nut is a source of both magnesium and zinc—offering 20% and 15%, respectively—which are essential to load up on during the colder months. We now know magnesium is important for fighting stress and sleepless nights to keep our bodies' defenses strong against viruses and infection, but zinc is also a crucial part of fighting colds. This mineral helps produce and activate white blood cells as well as boost our immune system.

Cashews' creamy and crave-worthy taste have made them a huge staple in vegan dairy alternatives—especially cheese. Flex those flexitarian muscles and whip up a hearty batch of our delicious Vegan Mac & Cheese when a comfort food craving strikes.

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Peanuts

While technically not a nut despite the name—they are technically in the legume family—peanuts are still a delicious option. They are also likely the most cost-effective and widely available nut option at your local supermarket. Peanuts have the most protein of all the nuts on this list, with 7 grams per serving, and they are a good source of folate.

Folate isn't just essential for mothers-to-be, it's an essential nutrient for processing other B vitamins and might even protect against several chronic diseases, like Alzheimer's and colorectal cancer. Just one ounce of peanuts offer nearly 20% of your daily needs, so load up with our Healthy Peanut Recipes, like our highly rated Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque.

Pistachios

Pistachios aren't just for your favorite desserts—a handful makes a tasty and nourishing snack on-the-run. They are actually one of our favorite convenience store snacks when we are traveling.

Pistachios provide us with 28% of our daily recommendation for vitamin B6, a nutrient responsible for helping with over 100 different reactions in the body. Studies show vitamin B6 helps defend against everything from cancer and cardiovascular disease to painful PMS symptoms. Step outside the dessert box and try our Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Warm Barley Salad in your next weekly dinner rotation.

Related: Best Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Walnuts

Last but not least are one of our all-time favorite nuts, the humble walnut. We consider them one of our top five foods to eat every day because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content. We need omega-3 fats to keep our hearts and brains strong, and they also show to help us achieve glowing skin. Walnuts have the highest concentration of ALA (the plant form of omega-3's) than any other food. They are also a good source of vitamin E, selenium and zinc.

We spoke with Dr. William Li, a Harvard-educated cancer researcher, and he too, believes in the power of walnuts. Li eats a handful every single day for a healthy afternoon snack. You can snack like Li or sneak in walnuts to your favorite dishes. We love doubling the omega-3 power of salmon with our Walnut-Rosemary Crusted Salmon that's ready in just 20 minutes.

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