Ask Alina: What Nut Is The Healthiest?

Q: Which nuts are the most nutritious? – Mary Lou Harrison 

A: First things first, all nuts and seeds are very nutritious so I wouldn’t worry too much about this! The goal is to eat them in the first place, just a handful, and also ensure they’re raw and unsalted. Roasting can ease digestion for some people, but it can also slightly damage the fatty acid profile or nuts and make them go rancid faster. I prefer to roast nuts at home, as opposed to getting roasted nuts at the store which are often mixed with vegetable oils, salt, and have been on the shelves for a long time.

But now to answer your question, the surprising answer is…*drumroll*…pecans! And next in line are walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and then almonds. (1) This hierarchy is based on antioxidant value, where the higher the antioxidant value, the more protective the nuts are against cellular damage and aging.

The one nut – which isn’t technically a nut, but a legume – that I would consider minimizing in your diet is peanuts. Unlike nuts like almonds or cashews that grow on trees, peanuts are grown underground; this makes them more susceptible to mold and fungus. Some other downsides to peanuts: they’re heavily sprayed with pesticides, are very high in Omega 6 (the pro-inflammatory fat, which isn’t bad on it’s own but we tend to have too much in our diet already), and contain a carcinogenic compound called aflatoxin. Phew!

If you’re feeling bummed about having to junk your peanut butter, don’t. I still eat it on occasion, but I make sure I’m eating organic peanut butter with no other ingredients like vegetable oils or sugar, and I eat it in moderation as compared to other nuts or seeds. Unless you have a digestive issue or chronic inflammation, you can have the occasional spoon of peanut butter!

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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