The 5 Healthiest Nuts You Can Eat

Updated: Mar. 03, 2021

Nuts are great sources of healthy fats, and the healthiest nuts contain nutrients that may help lower cholesterol and more.

Walnuts with and without shells (filling the picture). Background of fresh walnuts.


It’s been said that walnuts are the oldest known tree food, dating back 10,000 years. Walnuts appear to have a wide variety of health benefits, plus they’re rich in certain phytochemicals—especially phenols, phytates, and phytosterols—making them the top nut of all the healthiest nuts. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to anti-inflammatory benefits. Specifically, walnuts are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid associated with improved bone health and prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A year-long walnut-rich diet improved total and LDL cholesterol in obese women, as noted in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Walnuts may have more cardiac benefits, too. With powerful antioxidant qualities, proteins in walnuts fight colon and breast cancer cells, shown in a study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Find out more about the health benefits of walnuts.

Peeled almonds closeup
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Most of the world’s almonds come from California, and interestingly, they hail from the peach family. They’ve been around since Biblical times and have been touted as one of the healthiest nuts (and foods in general) for nearly as long. And with good reason. The Journal of Nutrition published research showing reduction in body weight, abdominal fat, and blood pressure in obese individuals after eating 15 percent of their calories from almonds for 12 weeks. Additionally, a 2017 study done in India showed better glucose control, improved levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, and reduced waist size in adults with diabetes eating almonds for just three weeks. Almonds are also great sources of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and folate. Snack on them as is, or get the health benefits of almonds through almond butter, almond flour, and almond milk.

lots of pistachios


Americans consume an estimated 45,000 tons of pistachios each year, the majority of which come from Iran. A study published in Metabolism showed significant improvement in cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetic adults who ate pistachios every day for a month. Another group of researchers found that eating pistachios for four months improved blood sugar control in adults with pre-diabetes. Pistachios contain resveratrol, an antioxidant associated with better glucose levels in people with diabetes. As reported in Diabetes Care, the people with pre-diabetes had improved insulin resistance and inflammatory markers as well. The anti-inflammatory benefits may come from pistachios’ phytochemicals, such as phenols, proanthocyanidins, and flavonoids. Here are 15 more of the healthiest foods for people with diabetes.

Close up Macadamia nuts on white wooden background , superfood and healthy food concept , overhead or top view shot with vintage color tone

Macadamia nuts

Nicknamed the “Queen of Nuts,” macadamia nuts are native to Australia. Research has found links between macadamia nut consumption and lower risk of heart disease. In fact, a 2015 review of six clinical trials concluded that incorporating macadamia nuts into the diet helped lower total and LDL cholesterol. Macadamia nuts are good sources of thiamine and manganese, too. In short: Macadamia nuts appear to have cardiovascular benefits, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make them part of your daily diet. Don’t miss these other healthy foods that are more nutritious than you thought.

cashew nuts full frame
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Cashews are a popular snack nut—and they’re just as healthy as they are delicious. Cashews contain phytates with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the essential minerals phosphorous, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Recent research reveals that men and women with moderately elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol who consumed between 16 and 36 cashews daily, experienced a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol after one month. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the only published study to date linking cashews to improved blood lipids. Have you ever asked yourself, “How do cashews grow?” (Hint: it’s weird)