Incorporating Nuts Into Your Diet

Nuts are often included as part of a healthy diet. They can help fight disease, and they provide many nutritional benefits, especially for those who are avoiding certain food groups such as meat or gluten. Christie Williams, a clinical dietetic specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, works with patients on weight management, women’s health and executive health. She explains what nuts can be best for your health and includes some nutritional benefits of the most popular nuts.


What type of nuts are we talking about?

Tree nuts are a popular family of nuts that are OK to include as part of a healthy diet.

What nuts are in this group?

Pistachios, almonds, cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts and pine nuts.

What are the benefits of these nuts?

These nuts are plant-based in nature and contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, plant sterols and antioxidants specific to each variety.

How can eating these nuts affect certain health conditions?

Nut consumption has been associated with decreased obesity and improvement of postprandial blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes. They also have cholesterol-lowering properties and are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

What serving amount is recommended for cardiovascular benefit?

The  U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a qualified health claim that says eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts per day or 2 tablespoons of nut butter in combination with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol that is controlled for calories can have cardiovascular benefits.

What nutrition benefits are provided from each type of nut?

Almonds: Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, fiber and phytosterol. California is one of the world’s largest producers of almonds.

Cashews: This nut contains about 10 percent starch, so it is used as a thickening agent in water-based dishes for many Indian and African meals. It is high in antioxidants, copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

Pecans: This nut is a good source of protein. It’s a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat-rich nut that’s high in antioxidants.

Pistachios: The pistachio plant is a desert plant that is native to the Middle East. It is grown primarily in Turkey, California and Iran. A mindful approach when consuming this nut is to eat it “in the shell.” It has numerous nutrient values, including two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin.

How do you use nuts in cooking?

These are some of my favorite websites for using nuts in cooking:

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }


Beth February 5, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Why aren't peanuts in the list?


Theresa Goodwyn-Harmon February 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Your comments on nuts- very hellpful-- I add them whenever I can. I am a kidney transplant and am trying to lose some weight. Is there a particular nut that is lower in calories than others? Any suggestions,greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Christie A. Williams February 6, 2014 at 8:38 am

Great question! The evidence based information tells us that including nuts can be helpful for weight loss as part of a calorie controlled diet. Most tree nuts have between 160-200 calories per serving. Be sure to check out the serving sizes because they are what vary the most for example 1 oz. of Brazil nuts is 6 nuts v.s. Pistachios is 49 nuts. So, any nut after transplant in specific calorie amounts can be included in your diet. One is not better than the other. The one thing that does stand out is salt however, most people still need to limit salt after tansplant. In general, consider using nuts with no salt or low sodium!


CFL February 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

When you say that a serving size of nuts is 1.5 ounces, is that in volume or weight?


Christie A. Williams February 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm

It is based on the weight. Weighing nuts is the most precise way to measure nuts yet many yummy American recipes are based on volume!


Linda February 5, 2014 at 9:41 am

Very interesting article for someone who does not consume alot of meat. I love nuts and the wonderful nutritional and healing properties they provide.

JHH Pastoral Care


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