The 7 Types of Nuts: Characteristics and Nutrients

In today's article, we're going to explain what types of nuts can be found and what their characteristics are on a nutritional level. We're talking about very beneficial foods.
The 7 Types of Nuts: Characteristics and Nutrients
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 17 January, 2023

There are numerous types of nuts, which are foods that are highly recommended by experts. They can be included on a regular basis in the diet, as they provide a significant amount of essential nutrients. Their intake helps to avoid deficits.

First of all, it’s important to note that nuts are foods with a high energy density. For this reason, you must respect the appropriate size of the portions you consume. Otherwise, there could be a caloric imbalance.

Types of nuts

Next, we’re going to mention the main types of nuts that can be found, as well as their most outstanding characteristics. In either case, it’s best to consume them toasted or raw. It’s essential that you avoid fried and salty nuts.

1. Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts stand out for providing omega 9 and vitamin E. This last nutrient acts as a powerful antioxidant. It’s capable of neutralizing the formation of free radicals and their subsequent accumulation in the body’s tissues, resulting in a lower risk of getting sick. This is evidenced by an investigation published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

At the same time, hazelnuts are a source of insoluble fiber. This substance is capable of improving digestive function, as it increases the volume of the fecal bolus.

Thanks to this effect, there’s greater stimulation of the mechanoreceptors of the digestive tract, which results in more intense peristaltic movements. In fact, insufficient fiber intake is postulated as one of the main reasons for constipation, according to a study published in Nature Reviews.

As far as lipid profile is concerned, hazelnuts contain more omega 9 than omega 3. We’re talking about monounsaturated fats that are related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease when introduced in the context of a balanced diet.

2. Almonds

Almonds have a good dose of essential minerals, among which magnesium and calcium stand out. The first is decisive when it comes to ensuring a proper night’s rest. Sometimes, supplementation or high intake may even be necessary to correct certain disorders associated with sleep, as stated by research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Calcium, on the other hand, is part of bone tissue. It’s important that it appears in the diet on a regular basis to avoid bone problems over the years. To ensure its correct absorption and fixation in the structures, it’s crucial that the levels of vitamin D in the body are optimal.

Likewise, almonds should be noted for their protein and omega-9 fatty acid content. We’ve already talked about the latter. As for proteins, they’re of low biological value, that is, they don’t have all the essential amino acids or a good digestibility score.

A bowl of almonds.
Almonds are a source of protein, magnesium, and calcium, but they must be part of a balanced diet.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts are the nuts with the highest content of fatty acids in the omega-3 series. These nutrients have proven to be very important in controlling inflammatory mechanisms, thus maintaining homeostasis. If the balance between the supply of omega 3 and omega 6 is lost, the risk of suffering from certain complex diseases could increase.

In fact, a high intake of omega 3 through the diet could be positive in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and facilitating the management of other health problems, such as joint pain.

They’re even especially decisive in athletes. They contribute to improving muscle recovery, in addition to reducing the risk of injury. If the contribution of these lipids is correct, lean tissue catabolism is less likely to occur.

At the same time, it should be noted that walnuts have a significant concentration of folic acid. This nutrient is important during pregnancy, as the requirements are increased and a deficit can affect the development of the neural tube of the fetus.

Brazil nuts

Among the types of nuts that can be found on the market, Brazil nuts stand out due to their high selenium content. This mineral acts as a powerful antioxidant, as stated by research published in the journal Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine . Therefore, their intake in adequate doses reduces the risk of getting sick.

The contribution of antioxidants becomes essential in order to delay the signs of aging and to ensure the good function of the immune system.

Macadamia nuts

It’s also possible to find other types of nuts that have a higher fat content, such as macadamia nuts.

In this case, lipids account for 75% of the total calories in the food, with omega-9 acids standing out above the rest. Their regular intake is related to an improvement in the body’s lipid profile.

4. Cashews

Cashews stand out for their protein content. Although these are of low biological value, they serve to complete the daily requirements.

Also, these nuts provide more carbohydrates than other foods in the same group. They’re recommended in the context of sports diets, as they’re energetic and nutritious.

However, compared to the previous types of nuts, cashews have a lower concentration of fat. Lipids alone make up 40% of total energy. Even so, these nuts are a source of certain essential micronutrients, such as magnesium, vitamin E, and iron.

5. Peanuts

Among the many types of nuts, peanuts may be the most widely consumed in the world. They’re found in different forms in supermarkets, with the consumption of butters or creams made with them becoming more and more common. They’re healthy foods that are characterized by their fat content. In fact, from a botanical point of view, they’re legumes.

Now, just like other types of nuts, peanuts contain proteins and fiber, as well as folic acid and isoflavones.

These last compounds are especially beneficial for women, as their intake on a regular basis can dampen the symptoms of menopause. This is evidenced by research published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Of course, when consuming peanut butter, you have to take certain precautions. Its calorie content is high, making it easy to overdo it. It’s best for this product to appear in the diet in moderation, especially in the case of sedentary people.

6. Chestnuts

Chestnuts are the nuts with the highest carbohydrate content, accounting for 40% of their composition. However, they’re low in fat and low in protein. Likewise, they don’t stand out for their mineral contribution.

Chestnuts are a fairly energetic food that’s easily digested, which can serve to cushion the symptoms of gastritis and other digestive ailments. Of course, their inclusion in the diet should be moderate.

7. Pistachios

Pistachios are the nuts with the highest content of phytosterols, which is why they help to guarantee homeostasis in the internal environment, especially in the case of women. They contain protein, fiber, and potassium, the latter being a determining mineral when it comes to ensuring that blood pressure remains in optimal ranges.

These products are recommended in the diet to improve the lipid profile. However, you have to be careful. Their fiber content could act as an antinutrient, thus causing the body to make less use of minerals such as iron.

Pistachios have phytosterols.
Pistachio phytosterols are related to some interference in the hormonal variables of women.

Can you consume nuts on a daily basis?

A very recurrent question in nutrition has to do with the possibility of including nuts on a daily basis in the diet. The truth is that these foods can appear recurrently in the diet, although always in moderate amounts. It’s best to eat a handful of them a day.

Keep in mind that when consuming different types of nuts, it’s always better to opt for roasted ones or those that are sold raw. The roasting processes inactivate certain substances that act as antinutrients, allowing for a greater use of vitamins and minerals.

There’s also the option of purchasing nut creams or butters. Now, in these cases, you have to make sure that they’re made 100% from nuts. The inclusion of sugars or additives among the ingredients isn’t beneficial.

Nuts are very beneficial

Nuts are beneficial foods that can be included in the diet on a regular basis. They’re capable of providing high-quality fats and proteins, the latter serving to complete the daily requirements. They’re also a source of fiber and contain essential minerals.

Either way, remember that in order to maintain good health, it’s crucial to combine a proper diet with other habits, such as regular physical exercise.

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