14 Most Nutritious Nuts & Seeds (Plus One To Avoid)

most nutritious nuts

Back in 2016 I wrote a post 5 Best Nuts & Seeds To Eat For Good Health but have learnt loads more since then, so thought it was time for a tweaked and extended update!

These 14 most nutritious nuts and seeds are the creme-de-la-creme of their food group, jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.  Because they’re super-concentrated packets of nutrients, you don’t need more than a handful of them in a day.  This makes them a fab element of any balanced, healthy diet and also an economical snack food.

If you get a good mix of these most nutritious nuts and seeds in your diet, you’ll be well on your way to healing yourself with a whole range of powerful antioxidant compounds and phytonutrients…

7 Most Nutritious Nuts

1 Almonds

Almonds really are some of the most nutritious nuts you can eat.  They have high levels of manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, unsaturated fats and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

They’re also super-high in a type of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol, a free radical-fighting antioxidant.  This makes almonds particularly good for your skin, heart and brain, supporting healthy digestion, reducing your hunger AND lowering cholesterol levels.

Top tip: if you have time it’s totally worth roasting almonds as this significantly increases their antioxidant content. [1]

2 Walnuts

Walnuts contain another important antioxidant called ellagic acid, as well as the polyunsaturated fatty acids linoleate and linolenate.  They’re high in the amino acid arginine, vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), plus various tannins and polyphenols [2].  They also contain good levels of the minerals manganese, copper, magnesium and phosphorous.

The ALA’s (healthy fats) in walnuts are brain-boosting nutrients! They support mood and fight depression, improve cognitive function and memory.  Protecting against degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

3 Pecans

Another one of the most nutritious nuts, pecans, are high in manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous.  You’ll also find the amino acid thiamine, vitamin B6 and various antioxidant phenols.

Pecans are excellent anti-inflammatory foods and the manganese they contain has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS [3].  Their phenolic compounds also give them a significant anti-hyperglycaemic effect, making them great for diabetics [3a].

4 Brazils

Brazil nuts are my most favourite of all nuts, fat and super-satisfying to eat.  They’re the most nutritious nuts in terms of selenium content.  And in fact brazils are the highest food source of selenium on the whole planet! With just half a dozen brazils containing about 550mcg of selenium.

Selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function as well as regulating mood.  It’s also a cofactor in the production of glutathione, the master antioxidant.

5 Cashews

Cashews are a low-fat nut, with a good amount of oleic acid (the same one as in olive oil).  They’re also an excellent source of copper, with about 750mg in a ¼ cup serving.  And also vitamin K, which makes them fab for supporting bone health.

Take advantage of new products like cashew flour, cashew milk and cashew nut butter to maximise your cashew intake.

6 Pine Nuts

These tiny, tasty nuts are a wonderful cholesterol-lowering food and support healthy cardiovascular function [6].  They also contain enough magnesium to give you about 18% of your daily recommended intake.  And are a good source of the two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to support eye health.

7 Macadamias

Macadamias are one of the most nutritious nuts for manganese, which is needed to support your bone health, enzyme production and antioxidant formation.  It also contains magnesium, copper and iron, as well as good levels of vitamin B1 (thiamine).

Macadamias are also awesome for satisfying your hunger, because they contain complex carbs like lignans, amylopectins and hemicellulose.

7 Most Nutritious Seeds

1  Flax Seeds – Flax seeds are a fibre-rich superfood, easily on a par with any of the most nutritious nuts.  They’re the richest plant source of lignans in the world, (which is a hugely beneficial polyphenol to health).  And are also full of mixed fatty acids, vitamin E, proteins and minerals [8][8a].

2  Hemp Seeds – Hemp is now being recognised as a superfood with anti-cancer benefits, being a great source of bioactive and protective antioxidant compounds such as lignanamides.

3  Chia Seeds – Chia is full of healthy omega-3 fats.  In fact about 65% of its total oil content consists of alpha-linolenic acid.  It’s also packed with healing antioxidant compounds, including caffeic acid, kaempferol and the very powerful quercetin [10].

4  Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are also full of many healthy omega-3s like oleic, linoleic, stearic and gadoleic fatty acids.  They have good tocopherol and carotenoid content which means their antioxidant benefits are high [11].

5  Sunflower Seeds – These humble little seeds contain plenty of phytonutrients, selenium, copper, vitamins E and B9 (folate).  As well as high levels of nourishing oils and proteins.
Always eat whole sunflower seeds, rather than commercial sunflower oil, which can be highly processed, oxidised and bleached.

6  Sesame Seeds – Healing compounds in sesame includes lignans and tocapherols, which have a powerful synergistic healing effect within the body.  They provide particularly good anti-aging, liver-protective and blood pressure-lowering benefits, as well as immune-regulation and anti-cancer activity [13][13a].

7  Apricot Seeds (Kernels) – The seeds inside apricots contain vitamin B17 (aka amygdalin) which has been shown to have important cancer-fighting properties [14].

The 1 Nut To Avoid

The number one nut to steer clear of is the peanut!  Now I appreciate that this is probably heart-breaking to many, as the peanut is one of our most favourite snacking foods. But truth be told, peanuts are NOT one of the most nutritious nuts because they’re actually legumes.

Because of this they’re much more likely to contain harmful aflatoxins (chemicals produced by moulds which grow on their surface) and sadly can be high in glyphosate and pesticides from their intensive farming practice [15].

So what are your experiences with nuts and seeds?  What are you favourites varieties and what recipes can you recommend?  Get in touch in the comments, or drop me a message x

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