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Why Tree Nuts Are So Good For You--Nutritious Morsels Offer Phytonutrients, Antioxidants, Plant Sterols

Updated on January 8, 2018
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green has an interest in whole, natural foods and shares her insights with others.


The Scoop on Good-For-You Tree Nuts

Most people would agree that nuts are tasty but did you know that they are full of goodness? Raw nuts contain important phytonutrients and antioxidants and are high in plant sterols and in omega-3's. Nuts, in fact, have been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

In times past, people erroneously believed in that nuts contained too much fat; so while they were considered more of a snack or for adding to certain recipes, they weren't truly considered an actual food group; however, nutrition research has revealed that nut fats are healthful and not harmful to the human body. Even more startling, a diet that includes a variety of nuts may actually be supportive of health and help to guard against development of disease.

And nuts can be used in so many ways. Not just for adding to sweet loaves of for topping of baked treats. Nuts can be ground into nut butters, their creamy inner goodness can be used for nut milks and creams, they can be added to stir fries or to smoothies or even chopped and added to soups.

This article details some of the specific nutritional/healthful compounds found in nuts and ways you can add them to your daily diet.


Why Are Nuts So Nutritious?

  • Arginine--Nuts contain the amino acid arginine, which can boost immunity and reduce blood pressure.
  • Manganese and Boron--Manganese and boron are also found in nuts.
  • Tryptophan--Some nuts contain tryptophan, which stimulates production of serotonin in the brain. Tryptophan can help to alleviate depression and boosts relaxation.
  • Triglycerides--Eating peanuts has been shown to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
  • Fats--Not all fats are bad. Nuts, in fact, contain the heart-healthy fats that render a protective effect. The fat in nuts is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat—not the artery-clogging saturated fat found in meat and processed foods.

In a Nutshell ...

Let's take a closer look at specific tree nuts and what each offers in the way of health protection.

  • Almonds--reduce cancer risk, reduce cholesterol
  • Brazil nuts--prostate health
  • Cashews--strong bones
  • Hazelnuts--nutrition, nutrition, nutrition
  • Macadamia Nuts--heart health
  • Pecans--antioxidants
  • Pine Nuts--potassium
  • Pistachios--phytosterols
  • Walnuts--omega 3 fatty acids, heart health


Did You know?

Nutritious nuts have been given the go-ahead as a heart-friendly dietary food item.

How Many Nuts Per Day?

A good daily intake is 1-2 oz.

Scientific Evidence Suggests that Eating Nuts Cuts the Risk of Heart Disease

  • In the famous Nurses Health Study, participants who ate five ounces of nuts per week cut their risk of heart disease by 35%.
  • In the U.S. Physicians Study, Harvard researchers discovered that men who consumed nuts 2 or more times per week were 47% less likely to die from heart attack and had a 30% reduction in risk for heart disease.
  • The Adventist Health Study showed that those who ate nuts frequently (over 4 times per week) showed significant reduction in heart attacks (51% fewer heart attacks).

Health Benefits of Tree Nuts

Lowered risk of:

  • Dementia
  • Gall stones
  • Macular degeneration
  • Strokes
  • Type II diabetes

How to Add Nuts to Everyday Meals

You can add nuts to salads and to meat dishes or in baked goods such as hearty homemade bread, muffins, cakes and pancakes. Try nuts in rice dishes and stir-frys. Nuts add flavor and texture, making any dish more tempting to the palate.

  • Include candied walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts in salads for a delicious taste treat.
  • Add slivered almonds to homemade yellow pea soup or to vegetables such as carrots and green beans.
  • Include almonds or cashews in chicken dishes.
  • Add nuts to batters and bread dough for a crunchy texture and wholesome taste.
  • Make almond cream by putting 1-2 tbsp. of ground almonds and 1/2-3/4 cup of water in a blender. Serve over cereal.
  • Make a peanut sauce to go with stir-fry. Add 1-2 tbsp of peanut butter to rice and vegetables.
  • Choose nuts as a snack item, over nutritionally inferior processed foods. Nuts can be eaten plain or roasted.

Stock up on an assortment of tasty nuts. You can benefit from the nutrition in nuts by eating a variety.

Warning: Those who have nut allergies should avoid food products that contain nuts and should consult with a health practitioner to address dietary concerns.

Why Not Grab a Handful?

The next time you grab a handful of nuts, remember, these tasty morsels actually provide a host of health benefits

Nuts, Part of a Healthful Diet

Making unsalted nuts a part of a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol can go a long way in supporting health. Nuts are high in protein which makes them a a good choice if you are looking to replace foods that are high in saturated fat.

If you've always like nuts, you can enjoy them with the knowledge that you are actually eating plant-based foods that are nutritional powerhouses. For those who eat very little meat or none, nuts can be a good protein alternative and an energy producing food.


1) International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation: Nutrition Research

2) Nuts--The Surprising Benefits

© 2009 Athlyn Green


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