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If consumed raw and unsalted, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are all healthy. While nuts are good for you, they are high in calories.Didyk/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The question

Are all nuts healthy? Are there certain types I should avoid?

The answer
If you eat them raw or dry roasted and unsalted, all nuts are healthy

Providing you eat them raw or dry roasted – and unsalted – all types of nuts are good for you. There isn’t one type of nut you should avoid. (Contrary to popular belief, cashews and macadamia nuts are very nutritious.) All nuts are a good source of plant protein, contain no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat. In fact, the majority of the fat in nuts is unsaturated, a heart healthy type of fat.

Including nuts in your diet on a regular basis is linked with protection from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Studies have consistently shown that including almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts or pecans in the diet lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. In addition to their healthy fats, nuts also contain natural compounds called plant sterols, which are implicated in lowering cholesterol.

Adding nuts to your diet can also help keep your blood pressure in check. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, an eating plan scientifically proven to lower blood pressure in people with mild and moderate hypertension, includes a serving of nuts up to five times a week. The blood pressure-lowering effect of nuts is attributed to their protein, magnesium and arginine content. (Arginine is an amino acid that helps relax blood vessels.)

The nutrient profile of each type of nut is different. Almonds and hazelnuts are exceptional sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps keep brain cells healthy. Peanuts contain the most folate, a B vitamin that's needed to repair DNA in cells. And if you're looking to add a good source of monounsaturated fat to your diet, macadamia, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews and pecans are your best choices.

While nuts are good for you, they are high in calories. A one-ounce serving of nuts delivers anywhere from 160 and 200 calories. One ounce of nuts isn't that large – you'll need to count out 6 Brazil nuts, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 23 almonds or 28 peanuts to make sure you're eating only one serving.

Cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts: How healthy are they?

Calorie information for nuts per 1 ounce (28 grams) serving:

  • 23 almonds contain 163 calories. Almonds are noteworthy for containing monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium.
  • 6 Brazil nuts contain 186 calories. Brazil nuts are noteworthy for their magnesium, selenium, and copper.
  • 18 cashews contain 163 calories. Cashews are noteworthy for containing monounsaturated fat, magnesium, copper, and plant sterols.
  • 21 hazelnuts contain 178 calories. Hazelnuts are noteworthy for monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folate, copper, and manganese.
  • 10 to 12 macadamia nuts contain 200 calories and are noteworthy for having monounsaturated fat, manganese, and plant sterols.
  • 28 peanuts contain 170 caloies. Peabutes are noteworthy for containing magnesium, folate, niacin, and manganese.
  • 19 pecan halves contain 196 calories and are noteworthy for their levels of monounsaturated fat, copper, and manganese.
  • 49 pistachios contain 161 calories and contain vitamin B6, copper, manganese.
  • 14 walnut halves contain 185 calories and are noteworthy for copper, manganese, ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel'sDirect (

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