Health Benefits Of Eating Nuts


Eating nuts and seeds as part of a healthy diet may be good for your heart health. Nuts are a nutrient-rich food packed with different vitamins, proteins, minerals, and fibre. These micronutrients could help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.

However, the high calorie and fat content associated with nuts means that it is important to limit portions, especially if your nut of choice is high in saturated fat. Still, most nuts contain mainly unsaturated fat: either monounsaturated fats in almonds, pistachios, pecans, and hazelnuts, or polyunsaturated fats in walnuts and pine nuts, for example.1

Health benefits of eating nuts

Nuts aren’t just a convenient, inexpensive snack food used to substitute foods like crisps and biscuits for weight loss - eating nuts can provide you with a variety of essential heart-healthy substances:

  • Unsaturated fats: There are two types of ‘good’ unsaturated fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. They are considered beneficial fats as they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation and stabilise heart rhythms2
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Many nuts are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They have been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes and may play other protective roles in cancer and various conditions3 
  • Fibre: All nuts contain dietary fibre which helps lower cholesterol. Fibre also makes you feel fuller for longer, so you eat less.This explains how nuts aid in weight loss
  • Plant sterols: Some nuts contain plant sterols or phytosterols, a substance that can help lower cholesterol. Phytosterols are often added to products such as orange juice or margarine for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts
  • L-arginine: Nuts are also a source of L-arginine. Some research suggests that L-arginine may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and overall blood vessel health, helping people with conditions like angina4

It is the function of these components in nuts that provide them with a vast array of health benefits, some of the main ones being:

  1. Nuts are Antioxidant Powerhouses. Polyphenols in nuts are antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress by neutralising free radicals - these molecules can cause cell damage and increase the risk of disease. A study showed that walnuts have a greater capacity to fight free radicals than fatty fish5
  1. May lower Triglycerides and Cholesterol levels. Nut consumption can decrease the cholesterol levels in your blood. It is believed that this is because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid content
  1. Weight loss. Despite being a high-calorie food, research suggests that eating nuts is correlated with weight loss rather than weight gain. For example, in controlled studies, almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss6
  1. Beneficial for Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is a common disease that affects hundreds of millions of people globally. A higher consumption of nuts, in particular tree nuts, is associated with lower mortality rates of diabetes sufferers.7  Not to mention, nuts are low in carbs and so don't raise blood sugars by a lot
  1. Anti-inflammatory Properties. Long-term inflammation can increase disease risk through organ damage in certain individuals. Nuts may help reduce inflammation, especially in people with serious health conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes
  1. May reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Nuts help raise ‘good’ cholesterol levels, improve artery function, and have other various cardioprotective benefits

Most nuts are actually seeds. Seeds are small edible plants enclosed in a seed coat. There are several seeds you can eat as part of a healthy diet that will provide similar health benefits to the ones provided by nuts as listed above. Here are a few:

  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Nutrients we can get from eating nuts

Nuts are packed with nutrients. One portion (1 ounce or 28.35 grams) of mixed nuts contains:8

  • Calories: 172
  • Protein: 5.67 g
  • Fat: 15.3 g of which 8.08 g is healthy fat - monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Carbs: 5.95 g
  • Fibre: 1.98 g
  • Vitamin E: 2.22 mg, 14.8% of RDI9
  • Magnesium, Mg: 64.9 mg, 21.6% of the RDI for men and 24.0% for women10
  • Phosphorus, P: 129 mg, 23.5% of the RDI10
  • Copper, Cu: 0.257 mg, 21.4% of the RDI10
  • Manganese, Mn: 0.578 mg, 25.1% of the RDI for men and 32.1% for women11
  • Selenium, Se: 9.61 µg, 12.8% of the RDI for men and 16.0% for women10

Some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others, but in terms of fat and energy, they are all similar. 


Peanuts are excellent sources of phytosterols. These compounds block the absorption of cholesterol from the diet. A review that looked at peanuts as a functional food stated eating peanuts can help lower your total cholesterol and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, without affecting your HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels.12 


Walnuts are also high in phytosterols. A systematic review noted that if walnuts make up more than 10% of your daily energy intake, they can lower LDL cholesterol levels.13


Almonds have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which is a known risk factor for coronary heart disease. The consumption of almonds also helps maintain HDL cholesterol levels, as shown in many different studies.14 It is important to maintain HDL cholesterol levels as it is these proteins which absorb cholesterol in the blood and carry it back to the liver which then flushes it from the body.


A literature review found that in 6 out of the 9 studies they covered, LDL cholesterol levels dropped and HDL cholesterol levels increased for participants when pistachio nuts were introduced as part of their usual diet.15

Cashew nuts

Incorporating cashew nuts into your diet has been proven to decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.16

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nut consumption was found to decrease total cholesterol levels by 3.0%, LDL cholesterol levels by 5.3% and increase HDL cholesterol levels by 7.9% in a study carried out on hypercholesterolemic men.17

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a type of tree nut. A significantly positive relationship was found between eating these nuts and the selenium blood concentration levels of participants in a 2022 meta-analysis.18 

Ways to include nuts in our diet

As healthy and plant-based eating patterns are becoming increasingly popular in the general population, nuts are becoming more available. You can source your nuts from a range of products, such as nut butter, nut oils, nut milk, and whole nuts.

Here are some ways to add healthy nut fats into your diet:

  • Substituting regular milk for nut milk in your cereal or porridge
  • Sprinkling nuts on top of your yoghurt
  • Replacing croutons with nuts in salads and soups
  • Adding nuts into bread, pancakes, muffins, and waffles when baking
  • Add to steamed vegetables for that extra flavour
  • Substituting regular cooking oils like olive and sunflower for nut oils

How much is enough?

Nuts do contain fat. If you eat too many, the calories will add up. Therefore, nuts should be eaten in moderation. 

As part of a healthy diet, adults should aim to eat between 4 to 6 servings of unsalted nuts per week. One serving of whole nuts is equal to a small handful (about 1 ounce), and for nut butters like peanut butter, 2 tablespoons. Choosing raw or dry-roasted nuts instead of those cooked in oil is the healthier option.


Nuts are becoming an increasingly popular snack. They provide us with heart-healthy substances and nutrients that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The majority of nuts reduce this risk by lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, whilst maintaining or increasing HDL levels. Whilst most of the fats found in nuts are the healthy kind, they are still a high-calorie food and so to avoid weight gain, should be eaten in moderation.


  1. I’m confused – are nuts a healthy snack? [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 20]. Available from: 
  2. Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Types of fat [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2014 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  3. [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from:
  4. How do nuts help your heart health? [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  5. Hudthagosol C, Haddad E, Jongsuwat R. Antioxidant activity comparison of walnuts and fatty fish. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Jun;95 Suppl 6:S179-188. [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  6. Wien MA, Sabaté JM, Iklé DN, Cole SE, Kandeel FR. Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Nov;27(11):1365–72. [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  7. Liu G, Guasch-Ferré M, Hu Y, Li Y, Hu FB, Rimm EB, et al. Nut consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality among patients with diabetes mellitus. Circ Res [Internet]. 2019 Mar 15 [cited 2023 Feb 21];124(6):920–9. Available from:
  8. Fooddata central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  9. The Nutrition Source. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  10. Vitamins and minerals - Others [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from: 
  11. Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Manganese [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 21]. Available from:
  12. Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S. Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2016 Jan [cited 2023 Feb 22];53(1):31–41. Available from: 
  13. Guasch-Ferré M, Li J, Hu FB, Salas-Salvadó J, Tobias DK. Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: an updated meta-analysis and systematic review of controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2018 Jul [cited 2023 Feb 22];108(1):174–87. Available from: 
  14. Kalita S, Khandelwal S, Madan J, Pandya H, Sesikeran B, Krishnaswamy K. Almonds and cardiovascular health: a review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Apr 11 [cited 2023 Feb 22];10(4):468. Available from:
  15. Lippi G, Cervellin G, Mattiuzzi C. More pistachio nuts for improving the blood lipid profile. Systematic review of epidemiological evidence. Acta Biomed. 2016 May 6;87(1):5–12. [cited 2023 Feb 22]. Available from:
  16. Mah E, Schulz JA, Kaden VN, Lawless AL, Rotor J, Mantilla LB, et al. Cashew consumption reduces total and LDL cholesterol: a randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;105(5):1070–8. [cited 2023 Feb 22]. Available from: 
  17. Garg ML, Blake RJ, Wills RBH. Macadamia nut consumption lowers plasma total and ldl cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic men. The Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2003 Apr 1 [cited 2023 Feb 22];133(4):1060–3. Available from: 
  18. Godos J, Giampieri F, Micek A, Battino M, Forbes-Hernández TY, Quiles JL, et al. Effect of brazil nuts on selenium status, blood lipids, and biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Feb 16;11(2):403. [cited 2023 Feb 22] Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ruby Petrovic

Bachelors of Science - Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science,Liverpool John Moores University (with industrial experience)

Hi! My name is Ruby and I am a currently doing a BSc in Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science with a year in industry. I have a growing passion for medical writing, and truly enjoy being able to communicate a vast array of scientific knowledge in different therapeutic areas, in such a way that those with non-scientific backgrounds can greater understand and better their own health. I hope reading this article has helped answer any questions you may have had!

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